"Only weeks before Halliburton made headlines by announcing it was pulling out of Iran—a nation George W. Bush has labeled part of the “axis of evil”—the Texas-based oil services firm quietly signed a major new business deal to help develop Tehran’s natural gas fields. Halliburton’s new Iran contract, moreover, appears to suggest a far closer connection with the country’s hard-line government than the firm has ever acknowledged."
~ Newsweek, February 16, 2005.
~ Newsweek, February 16, 2005.
There's an interesting article from Der Spiegel on the new Iraq strategy. It mentions the Congressional grillings given last week, not only to Condoleeza Rice, but also to the new Defense Secretary, Robert Gates. However, if anyone doubts the influence of a certain American think-tank on the situation in the Middle East, take a look at this:
Some 4,000 soldiers are to move into Anbar province, a Sunni stronghold, in the coming months. And an additional 17,500 US troops will aim to turn all of the capital Baghdad into a secure "Green Zone."
Bush's original concept for the war in Iraq was deceptively simple: topple Saddam Hussein and hand the country over to the Iraqis. His latest plan has at least moved closer to reality. The strategy paper put together by US Deputy National Security Advisor Jack Crouch lists the most pressing tasks: disarming militias, fighting al-Qaida, battling widespread unemployment, improving electricity supplies, finding a lasting reconciliation between Iraq's major ethnic and sectarian divisions, and rolling back Iran's growing influence.
It appears Bush has been sold on deploying more troops -- which is even viewed skeptically by the Pentagon -- by a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. The neoconservative think tank already played a key role in the run-up to the Iraq war. Fred Kagan, a 36-year-old military historian, has been drumming up support for the so-called "surge" deployment of more troops for months. "It is time for America to go to war and win," he wrote in his recent AEI position paper titled "Choosing Victory."
Remember the name of that think-tank: American Enterprise Institute (AEI). It is the ideological whorehouse of the American government.
There's another "expert" affiliated with AEI, who is as influential with the current administration as he is wrong, and that's Michael Ledeen. At the beginning of January, it was Ledeen whose report of Khamenei's death were exaggerated. It is Ledeen who is pressing for an American military adventure in Iran.
Which Iranian is most closely linked to Ledeen? Manucher Ghorbanifar, the central Iranian player in the Iran-Contra scandal. The Raw Story reported in April, 2006, that:
The Department of Defense and Vice President Dick Cheney have retained the services of Iran-Contra arms dealer and discredited intelligence asset Manucher Ghorbanifar as their “man on the ground,” in order to report on any interaction and attempts at negotiations between Iranian officials and US ambassador to Iraq, Zelmay Khalilzad, current and former intelligence officials say.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, three intelligence sources identified the Iran-Contra middleman as having been put back on the payroll, acting as a human intelligence asset and monitoring any movement in discussions about Iran’s alleged burgeoning nuclear weapons program.
“Khalilzad has been authorized to enter into discussions with the Iranians over the issue of stability inside Iraq,” one former intelligence source said.
Was Ghorbanifar the "intelligence" source behind the American raid on the Iranian consulate in Hewlêr last week?
Ghorbanifar is so illegitimate an intelligence asset that the CIA "issued an unusual `burn notice' on Ghorbanifar, instructing its personnel not to deal with him and warning that he was known to spread false information to advance his own interests." More on that from Laura Rozen, at War and Piece, quoting a transcript from a 2005 edition of Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: One of the legitimate issues raised about Iraq, however, was: Was the information given to us about weapons of mass destruction credible and accurate? The American Prospect, a liberal magazine, has been reading your book and analyzing it and talking to people. "The Prospect has learned that the true identity of `Ali' is Fereidoun Mahdavi, formerly the shah's minister of commerce and, more importantly, the close friend and business partner of Ghorbanifar, legendary arms dealer, infamous intelligence fabricator, and central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal that almost brought down the Reagan administration. It was `Gorba,' as he was known back then to Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, the rogue National Security Council officer, who lured the Reagan administration into secretly selling U.S. missiles to the Islamic regime in exchange for the release of Western hostages.
... Mahdavi says that he has this network in Iran that he gets information from,' says Akbar Etemad [a former minister in the shah's government.] `Each time, he says his information will come true in two months' time. But all that information is fake. Ghorbanifar and Mahdavi work very closely together. Ghorbanifar is unreliable. In that sense, he might be dangerous. The CIA shares that harsh assessment of Ghorbanifar. If the intelligence community had any clue to Mahdavi's association with Ghorbanifar, it is scarcely surprising that its officials rebuffed Weldon's overtures on behalf of `Ali.' Many years ago, the CIA issued an unusual `burn notice' on Ghorbanifar, instructing its personnel not to deal with him and warning that he was known to spread false information to advance his own interests."
In another article by Laura Rozen in The American Prospect, Fereidoun Mahdavi aka "Ali" admits:
The former minister continued: “I am well-known in Tehran. How can I call Tehran? But Ghorbanifar is something else. He has all the contacts within Iran. Nobody has so many information and contacts that he has. Now if he is using that information through me to try to buy power indirectly, that is his business. I do it because I have known him for many years.”
What is happening here? Ledeen's long-time pal, Ghorbanifar, is the source of information that is being dispersed through any number of individuals, but he is the single source of it all. Are Ledeen's "sources" in Iran all getting their information from the one unreliable source? It certainly sounds that way.
In the July/August 2006 issue of Mother Jones, Laura Rozen connects three key persons in one location, at the same time, to plan a war against Iran. Those three are Larry Franklin, of Lockheed Martin fame (see Saturday's post), Michael Ledeen, and Manucher Ghorbanifar. Get it? In December, 2001, one of Lockheed Martin's old directors for strategic planning, an AEI Freedom Scholar, and a discredited Iranian arms dealer were planning a war on Iran.
If, as Der Spiegel notes, AEI thinkers are behind the current change in Iraq strategy, can the machinations of Franklin, Ledeen, and Ghorbanifar be far removed? How many of their fantasies, passed off as "intelligence," is feeding the current frenzy? And why, after so many disasters like the Iran-Contra scandal, or the domination of US foreign policy by Lockheed Martin, are people like this Franklin, Ledeen, and Ghorbanifar still deemed as credible by anyone?
For more schemers and liars behind the push for an Iran war, there's another reference from Mother Jones. Included in the MJ list are Abram Shulsky, Elizabeth Cheney (yes, that's the daughter of the vice-president), David Wurmser, Elliot Abrams, Michael Ledeen, and Manucher Ghorbanifar. Also listed are the Iran Policy Committee and Foundation for Democracy in Iran, and the Committee for the Present Danger--any danger. Pick whichever danger you want and these schemers and liars will manage to turn a buck on it.
Note that the Iran Policy Committee is a big backer of the MEK, proving that one man's terrorist is the same man's freedom fighter as long as it's all about corporate interests. In fact, you can get an idea of what a professional CIA propagandist can churn out when the bucks hang in the balance, by checking this apologia pro-MEK. Keep in mind that MEK was backed by Saddam and interfered with the Kurdish uprising in 1991.
As much as I'd love to see the mullahs get their just desserts (and East Kurdistan get its moment of chaos to break free from the brutality of the Iranians), the idea that likes of Ledeen, Ghorbanifar, Lockheed Martin, and the AEI are manufacturing the "intelligence" against Iran is more than enough to discredit any plan that they might propose; additionally, it would be extreme folly for the PKK and PJAK to assist these vermin with their goals in Iran, just as it will be extreme folly for the KRG to assist these vermin with their goals in Baghdad. After all, their bottom line is not democracy, their concern is not human rights, and their interests are not Kurdish interests.
They are, in a word, haraam.