One correct course of action being embraced by President Bush in his most recent Iraq strategy is the public pursuit – and prosecution – of Iranians caught in action fighting against the coalition, and against the government, in Iraq.
Regional interest in post-invasion Iraq has been clear from the outset. At the time of the initial invasion, American special operators took on the mission of line-of-communication interdiction, guarding the main transportation routes from Iran and Syria into the country. However, there has been little public response since, by the American or Iraqi governments, to the proliferation of men, money, and materiel across the Iraqi borders.
That appears to be changing. The first account of Iranians being apprehended in Iraq came on Christmas day, when the New York Times reported that four men from that country – including senior military officials suspected of being members of the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which has been responsible for training members of Hezbollah and other terrorist groups – had been taken into custody during raids “conducted against groups suspected of carrying out attacks on Iraqi security forces and civilians.”
Only days ago, US military leaders in Baghdad acknowledged that five more Iranian Revolutionary Guard members had been arrested in northern Iraq on suspicion of funding and arming insurgents.
National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has been using his recent media appearances to explain the change in tactics, saying, "We know there are jihadists moving from Syria into Iraq. ...We know also that Iran is supplying elements in Iraq that are attacking Iraqis and attacking our forces. We are going to need to deal with what Iran is doing inside Iraq.”
“Iranians in Iraq are doing things that are putting are people at risk, of course we have the authority to go after them and protect our people,” he added.
America cannot stop the insurgents alone, though; the support of the elected Iraqi government is a necessary factor in our ability to succeed in securing the nation and stemming the tide of foreign fighters and weapons crossing the border.
“The Iraqis have to seize this opportunity to sort out with the Iranians just what kind of behavior they are going to tolerate,” said a senior military official. “They are going to have to confront the evidence that the Iranians are deeply involved in some of the acts of violence.”
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