A story that didn't seem to catch much attention in The Times, from a couple of weeks back, is the subject of my attention today.
Its an interesting little piece of propaganda, because of the way it piles assertion on assertion and connects apparently unrelated issues into a larger framework. Its also full of crap, but because its the Times, and not some rag like the Mail, it is of a higher quality than you normally see.
First off we have the eternal bogeyman of the 21st century, Al-Qaeda, planning attacks with the help of "supporters of Iran".
Yep, its that time of year again. Lets claim, with little assertion, that [insert Axis of Evil State here] is helping Al-Qaeda. Haven't we heard this tune somewhere before?
Now, you'd probably say I was using previous conduct, not logical argument, to prove my point here and that this is a not very honest form of debate. And you'd be right.
However, consider this. The world's best intelligence services still cannot fathom the precise relationship between Iran and Hezbollah. One of the best known terrorist/state sponsor connections that is about (and has been for a while) and not Mossad, the CIA, MI6, the NSA or anyone else can figure out if Iran merely promotes an international climate in which Hezbollah can flourish, provides material support, trains its members or indeed controls it.
Yet somehow we are meant to accept that Al-Qaeda, a group that was affiliated with the Taliban ( who nearly went to war with Iran in 1999), a group that have shunned state connections except in the most failed and ostracized of societies, is now making deals with a stable international power.
I'll be fair, this report is better than most because it draws a line between Al-Qaeda Core, who are mostly in Pakistan and Al-Qaeda in Iraq, who despite various links are separate. Sort of in the same way the UK and USA are separate countries, they just happen to work together 90% of the time.
However, Al-Qaeda in Iraq was led by the notorious Shi'ite hating Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and founded by members of various Jihad factions he had trained while in Afghanistan or recruited when back in the Middle East. His position was certainly not one of cooperation with any Shi'ite group or faction at all. Yet we are meant to believe his predecessors have made plans with the natural leader of Shi'ite communities all over the world? This reasoning sounds suspiciously familiar to some of the things said about Saddam...
No doubt there are "links". However, links are being used here as a neutral term. For example, if a French intelligence agent met with an informant in an Al-Qaeda cell, that would be a "link" between French intelligence and Al-Qaeda. It does not necessarily imply collusion of any sort. Al-Qaeda core did have links with Iran and from what can be gleaned, even from the 9/11 Commission whitewash, is that this took the form of a neutrality pact, of sorts. Iran did not impede the movement of Al-Qaeda operatives and in return Al-Qaeda did not unleash a barrage of attacks on Tehran.
And it would seem even that agreement has fallen apart, since many Al-Qaeda members have been detained in Iran since the fall of the Taliban, presumably for use as bargaining chips either with AQ itself or with the USA. In the civil war in Iraq, Iran is far more interested in using its influence over the Mahdi Army and Iraqi security services than having to deal with quite frankly insane elements of AQ in Iraq.
I also noted the nice use of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in the report. Implicitly referencing Iran's nuclear program? It seems possible. May as well hype that threat while we are in the general region, after all.
Consider the wider context of this, as well. As noted by Another Day in the Empire, similar spectres of Al-Qaeda attacks have also been raised in France by Sarkozy and his cronies. Never mind that its in fact the same bunch of thuggish idiots they were before, who merely took the Al-Qaeda name for media and possible funding benefits (though you do have to wonder if the Saudi backers of Al-Qaeda are getting wise to this scam now).
Two countries. Two changes of leadership. Two threats. Nothing like the fear of attack to make people cleave closely to a new leader, especially if they are somewhat unpopular or divisive. And it costs next to nothing to do, while playing into a larger geo-political goal concerning a certain state and nuclear energy.