Elliot Abrams Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the U.S. military spokesman, gave his weekly press briefing, and flogged the EFP story, charging Iran with manufacturing these explosive devices. Of course, the assumption has to be that, if Iran is aiding any insurgents, it would be aiding the Shiites. But unfortunately for the U.S. theory, many EFP attacks have occurred in Sunni controlled areas, and caches and even EFP factories have been found in Sunni areas.
Not a problem for General Caldwell/Elliot Abrams shop: this time they come back with a different and exceedingly implausible twist: based on information from “detainees,” (no word as to whether or not they were tortured) that Iran was providing EFPs and other weapons, as well as training and intelligence TO SUNNI INSURGENTS IN IRAQ. The NY Times recognized the contradiction, and made it the headline of the story:
U.S. Suspects That Iran Aids Both Sunni and Shiite Militias
BAGHDAD: American military officials say weapons that appear to have been manufactured in Iran as recently as last year have turned up in the past week in a predominantly Sunni area.
The chief spokesman for the American military command in Iraq, Major-General William Caldwell, said that prisoners in US custody had said Iranian intelligence agents were supporting Sunni insurgents, and that surrogates for the Iranian intelligence service also were training Shiite extremists in Iran.
“We have in fact found some cases recently where Iranian intelligence sources have provided to Sunni insurgent groups some support,” said General Caldwell, who sat near a table covered with arms that he said were largely of Iranian manufacture. They were found in a mostly Sunni neighbourhood in Baghdad, he said.
Credit to the NY Times reporter Alissa J. Rubin for providing a balanced account of the press conference, as opposed to the pitiful Bush stenographer Michael Gordon, who usually swallows the military “intelligence” hook, line and sinker.
The Bush-friendly ABC story completed omitted the implausible claims about Iran/Shiites aiding Sunnis from its coverage of the news conference, but repeated the generic charges.
Juan Cole once again debunks this idea:
Iran is closely allied with the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and its Badr Corps paramilitary, the leaders of which have repeatedly been targeted by Sunni guerrillas. That Iran is trying to kill its own guys in Iraq is flatly implausible. Caldwell can come out and say it every day, and I will come out here and say it is implausible every day. Anti-Iranian sentiments are a key characteristic of the Sunni Arab guerrillas.
Iranian arms may be being smuggled into Iraq, but it is unlikely that the government is doing the smuggling, or that they are more important than all the other arms that are being smuggled into Iraq from a variety of neighbors. So the US military might well find Sunni guerrillas with Iranian arms.
We also know that some Sunni guerrillas want to foment a war between the US and Iran. So captured Sunni guerrillas may be feeding interrogators this line that they are getting help from Iran, to make trouble. That is, whatever the US military is finding in the way of evidence for this absurd allegation can be explained in some other plausible way, so as to avoid our having to come to conclusions that make no sense whatsoever. I am hoping that journalists covering the war will treat these allegations with the profound skepticism they deserve.
In other important news, Iran is pressing for release of 5 of its people, “detained” by the US after the middle of the night invasion of a building in the Kurdish city of Arbil, which Iran was, at the invitation of Iraq, developing a consulate. This issue may torpedo the upcoming sequel to the Iraq “Neighbors’ Meeting. I’m sure that would suit Elliot Abrams just fine.
One Iranian who has been released shows clear signs of torture:
Jalal Sharafi’s psychiatrist says the diplomat is constantly reliving the trauma of his torture, including mock executions by his US and Iraqi captors.
Doctors treating the second secretary of Iran’s embassy in Baghdad Jalal Sharafi say the psychological and physical damage the Iranian diplomat endured are “overwhelming.”
Reports have emerged that former Iraqi intelligent operatives had been involved in Sharafi’s torture under the aegis of CIA.
According to Hosseini, a thorough medical examination shows scars and deep wounds on Sharafi’s head, nose, ear, and dark bruises on his back which are clear indicators that he was severely beaten in those areas.
According to Sharafi’s personal physician, the sudden weight loss the Iranian diplomat experienced is a sign that his body was under constant and severe pressure.
Doctor Hosseini revealed that Sharafi suffered from intestinal bleeding as a result of the severe blows he suffered on his sides and stomach.
Meanwhile, Sharafi’s psychiatrist stated that his patient is a true victim of “intense psychological torture.”
According to Doctor Ali Sharifi, unlike a normal prisoner who knows the identity of his captors and what he is up against, the Iranian diplomat was never charged with any crime and was completely left in the dark regarding his fate which all mounts up to psychological torture.
Throughout the 57 days Sharafi endured these excruciating circumstances most of which was spent in solitary confinement without light, sound or anything to read, the diplomat is partly deprived of his senses, his psychiatrist said.
The experience has left a damaging effect on Sharafi, who is continually reliving the trauma of his torture and sleep deprivations, solitary confinements and mock executions, causing problems in seeing and hearing for the official, the psychologist said.
The second secretary at Iran’s Baghdad embassy gave a detailed account of beatings and interrogations, including being whipped on his feet with cables, gagged and threatened with his life.
A frail looking Sharafi who was brought to the press conference in a wheelchair said, “They tied my feet and hands and lashed my soles hundreds of times with cables and kicked and punched me.”
The Iranian official who went missing in Baghdad more than two months back also showed traces of slash marks on his back.
Sharafi has repeatedly said that a U.S. official had been present when holes were drilled into his feet. The 40-year old diplomat stated that “The American began with a soft attitude at first but turned harsh “when he could not get what he wanted from me.”
Jalal Sharafi, was released nine days ago, more than two months after armed gunmen wearing uniforms of the elite Iraqi Commando Battalion abducted the diplomat in central Baghdad where he was carrying a gift for his daughter.
Meanwhile, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation, Peter Stocker, visited Sharafi at an Iranian hospital, where he has been treated for injuries he sustained while in US custody in Iraq.
Stocker, who had personally examined Sharafi, told an AP correspondent that the Iranian official’s wounds “happened during his detention,” in Iraq.
Elliot Abrams must be proud. I do not share that feeling.