The Independent on Sunday
has some disturbing reports on Iran linked here
The first is headlined and begins as follows:
Iran trains 'thousands' of Iraqi insurgents
By Phil Sands in Baghdad
Published: 15 April 2007
Thousands of Iraqi Shias are being trained in advanced guerrilla warfare tactics at a secret camp near the Iranian capital, according to militants who say they have spent time there.
The second linked article contains this telling paragraph that mitigates the first headline but makes the conclusions no less complicated or consequences and decisions less difficult:
Although the vast majority of American casualties have been inflicted by Sunni insurgents, the US military views the Mahdi Army as the most dangerous faction in Iraq's sectarian war. It has frequently battled against British and US forces in Iraq, most recently in Diwaniyah, and has also been blamed for carrying out death squad killings of Sunnis and political assassinations. In recent months hundreds of its members have been arrested.These moves have prompted many Sadrists to believe they are on the brink of an all-out confrontation with the US Army. Peter Harling, an Iraq analyst at the International Crisis Group who is considered a leading authority on al-Sadr, said he had his own information that Mahdi Army fighters were now being trained in Iran. This "in no way implied" the operation was sponsored by the Iranian authorities, he added, although he suggested they were aware of it and chose to turn a blind eye.
In the Sunday Telegraph
conversely we have the apparently mainly mercenary Shadow Foreign Secretary, William Hague writing about Iran, linked here
the first three paragraphs of which he devotes to concerns about two pathetic articles by junior naval ratings in the tabloid press, then gets round to a more substantial point - the circumstances surrounding the capture of the aforesaid ratings before moving along to what should be major concerns about the Iranian nuclear programme, solutions to which he offers the following:
"This pressure should include a wider assets freeze on Iranians associated with the country's nuclear programme, an explicit travel ban on these individuals, and a formal ban on the export of arms to Iran, in place of the current restrictions, which merely call for states to exercise "vigilance" in selling weapons to Teheran.
And our Government should be putting the case for all EU countries to adopt measures similar to those put in place by the US - denying Iranian access to the international banking system, ending European export credits to Iran, and stopping investment in her oil and gas fields. Such a combination of UN and EU measures would be a serious blow to Iran. If nuclear proliferation is to be averted, the intensification of pressure - multilateral, legitimate and peaceful in nature - is both urgent and necessary."
AND YET not one word on the fact that British forces are engaged in a bloody shooting war in Iraq apparently with fighters being trained in Iran as reported by the IoS
Abu Rafed estimated a total of almost 4,000 Iraqi Shias, including "many important Mahdi Army leaders", had received training there last month alone, living at the camp for weeks at a time. He said the number of Iraqi Shias arriving there had increased significantly since the start of the "surge" in February.
Abu Amer said: "The training was done by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. I saw Iraqi fighters from Missan, Basra, Diwaniyah and Nasiriyah [areas of southern Iraq]. They were mainly Mahdi Army, but not all of them." More Iraqi Shias had sought military instruction, he added, after the 2006 bombing of the Samarra shrine, the event widely blamed for triggering widespread sectarian war between Iraq's Sunnis and Shias.
Whether child law expert Des Browne (read here
) remains as Defense Secretary seems irrelevant, as it appears there is nobody of sufficient stature to be an effective Defense Minister on either front bench, let alone Foreign Secretary. And Miliband for PM as pressed here
by past Defense Minister Portillo ????? -Heaven help us!!!!!