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Wednesday May 23, 2007

Promoting Region-Wide Sectarian Violence

ABC News' The Blotter yesterday broke the news that Bush has given secret authorization to "mount a covert 'black' operation to destabilize the Iranian government."

And on CNN International, Seymour Hersh re-broke his overlooked New Yorker scoop from March, regarding Fatah al-Islam, the Palestinian group exchanging fire with the Lebanese army. From his interview by Hala Gorani:

HERSH: What I was writing about was a sort of a private agreement that was made between the White House, we're talking about Dick Cheney and Elliott Abrams, who is one of the key aides in the White House with [Saudi national security adviser Prince Bandar bin Sultan].

And the idea was to get support, covert support, money, from the Saudis to support various hard-line jihadists, Sunni groups, particularly in Lebanon, who would be seen -- in case of an actual confrontation with Hezbollah, the Shia group in the southern Lebanon -- would be seen as an asset, as simple as that.

GORANI: So, the Sinora government [of Lebanon], in order to counter the influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon, would be covertly, according to your reporting, funding groups like Fatah al-Islam that they're having issues with right now?

HERSH: Unintended consequences once again, yes.


GORANI: Why would it be in the best interest of the United States of America right now to indirectly, even if it is indirect, empower these jihadi movements that are extremists, that fight to the death, in these Palestinian camps? Doesn't it go against the interests not only of the Sinora government, but also of America and Lebanon right now?

HERSH: The enemy of our enemy is our friend. The jihadist groups in Lebanon were also there to go after Nasrallah [leader of] Hezbollah. ... Look, the American role is very simple right now. Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, has been very articulate about it.

We're in the business now of supporting the Sunnis anywhere we can against the Shia, against the Shia in Iran, against the Shia in Lebanon, that is Nasrallah, et cetera against -- so the game is really, as you could call it, almost -- the Arabic word is Fitna, civil war.

We're in a business right now of creating in some places, Lebanon in particular, a sectarian violence.

What Hersh is talking about in Lebanon is parallel to what's going on Iran. The ABC report included the following:

As earlier reported on the Blotter on, the United States has supported and encouraged an Iranian militant group, Jundullah, that has conducted deadly raids inside Iran from bases on the rugged Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan "tri-border region."

U.S. officials deny any "direct funding" of Jundullah groups but say the leader of Jundullah was in regular contact with U.S. officials.

American intelligence sources say Jundullah has received money and weapons through the Afghanistan and Pakistan military and Pakistan's intelligence service.

Like Fatah al-Islam, Jundallah is a militant Sunni organization.

(Iran even accuses it of being linked to Al Qaeda, though that may be akin to accusing the Fort Dix Six or the Seeds of Liberty with Al Qaeda ties.)

In both cases, the Bush administration is supporting Sunni terrorist outfits with the goal of fostering sectarian violence -- a strategy that undermines any claim to promoting freedom and stability abroad.

Posted by Bill Scher on May 23, 2007 email post email Spotlight / / You are in Foreign Policy/ Iran/ Israel-Palestine
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