Friday, June 08, 2007

Perry: U.S. eyed Iran attack after bombing, but Al-Qaida was the likely perpetrator--United Press International - Security & Terrorism - Briefing

United Press International - Security & Terrorism - Briefing

Perry: U.S. eyed Iran attack after bombing

Published: June 6, 2007 at 4:25 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 6 (UPI) -- A former U.S. defense secretary says he now believes al-Qaida rather than Iran was behind a 1996 truck bombing at an American military base.
Former Defense Secretary William Perry said he had a contingency plan to attack Iran if the link had been proven, but evidence was not to either his nor President Bill Clinton's satisfaction.
The attack would have struck "at a number of their military facilities that would have weakened -- substantially weakened ... the Iranian navy and air force," he said in New York Tuesday during a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations.
The Khobar Towers bombing at a U.S. air base in Saudi Arabia is often referred to by the Bush administration as one of the first salvos in the war with terrorism. It killed 19 service members. The Sept. 11 commission suggested a connection between al-Qaida and the attack, the first time the group has been linked to the bombing.
"I believe that the Khobar Tower bombing was probably masterminded by Osama bin Laden," Perry said. "I can't be sure of that, but in retrospect, that's what I believe. At the time, he was not a suspect. At the time ... all of the evidence was pointing to Iran."
He said al-Qaida did not emerge as a major threat until Clinton's second term.
"We probably should have been more concerned about it at the time than we were but in the first term we did not see Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida as a major factor, or one that we were concerned with," he said.
In 2001, the U.S. Justice Department announced a 46-count indictment against 13 Saudis and one Lebanese man in the bombing. All were allegedly connected to Hezbollah, a terrorist group the United States believes is linked to Iran.
Perry said the FBI strongly believed at the time the bombing was ordered by Iran, but Saudi officials tried to discourage that theory.
"They feared what action we would take. They rightly feared it. In fact, I had a contingency plan for a strike on Iran, if it had been if it had been clearly established. But it was never clearly established, and so we never did that," Perry said. Digg it RSS
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The Great Satan spars with the Islamic Republic - Deccan Herald - Internet Edition

The Great Satan spars with the Islamic Republic - Deccan Herald - Internet Edition

The Great Satan spars with the Islamic Republic
From Michael Jansen
Washington’s backing for the Shah, the presence of US forces and firms, the granting by the shah of extra-territorial status to US citizens, soldiers has transformed Iran into a US client state.

The confrontation between Washington and Teheran over Iran’s nuclear programme can be expected to continue because neither side can afford to back down without losing face. However, this confrontation is unlikely to escalate into a full blown crisis. The parties themselves, the countries trying to mediate between them, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) striving to defuse tensions seek to avoid this possibility. The US, beleaguered by the insurgency in Iraq, cannot court a fresh disaster in neighbouring Iran by taking military action. Teheran would like to end its international isolation and attract foreign investment. Germany, France and Britain are trying to secure Iran's agreement to halt its efforts to enrich uranium in order to avert further US adventurism. India, which, apparently, has also attempted to calm the situation, has close ties with Iran and is improving relations with the US and does not want to be forced to choose between them. Teheran’s refusal to suspend the conversion of raw uranium into gas, the first step in developing an independent fuel cycle, means that Iran is unlikely to resume negotiations with the three European states before the meeting of the IAEA's 35-member board in November. During this gathering the US, the Islamic Republic’s inveterate antagonist, plans to press for Iran to be brought before the UN Security Council. However, China and Russia, which is building Iran’s Bushehr reactor, do not favour referral to the Council and could use their vetoes if the US tables a resolution calling for the imposition of sanctions on Tehran.
Washington argues that Tehran must not be permitted to develop the nuclear fuel cycle which could transform Iran into an independent nuclear power capable of manufacturing atomic weapons. Therefore, Iran must abandon its programme and accept that any nuclear power plants it builds will acquire fuel from established nuclear powers and undergo close IAEA monitoring. This view has been accepted by Britain, Washington’s closest ally, and the rest of the Europeans and, to a certain extent, by the Agency, which is, after all, governed by a board where the US is the most powerful and influential member. Iran argues that the US is trying to deprive it of its rights under the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and is not prepared to capitulate. Its view was spelt out by former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, who now heads the powerful Expediency Council. “Iran is ready to negotiate but not when preconditions are attached.” Iranians call Washington's attempts to dictate to others “power-mongering.” The more the US attempts to tell Teheran what to do, the more determined it is to resist bullying. The more Iran resists, the greater becomes the US desire to tame Teheran. The deep antagonism between these two countries developed in 1979 when the mullahs overthrew Washington’s loyal ally the shah. US scholar William O Beeman writing in his book The ‘‘Great Satan’’ vs the "Mad Mullahs:" How the United States and Iran Demonise Each Other, says the defining event was the seizure by radical students of the US embassy in Teheran and the holding of 50 diplomats based there for 444 days. Iranians saw the saga of the “hostages” as payback for years of US domination but Americans were humiliated and infuriated by their government’s inability to secure the release of the diplomats. Since the two countries did not pose a direct political and military threat to one another until the US occupied Iraq in 2003, Beeman says that the conflict was more contrived than real. Thus, he writes, “...both nations construct the 'other' to fit an idealised picture of an enemy.” The constructs they produced – the “Great Satan” and the "Mad Mullahs" – were for home consumption rather than used for name-calling. The “Great Satan” is a religious and cultural symbol for Iranians. The term was applied to Britain at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century when it was intervening in Iranian politics. Beeman says that after the revolution this image was adopted to show Iranians that the "United States and all it supported (in Iran), principally Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi, was a force alien to Iran and its civilisation – a force that was attempting to corrupt the Iranian people." Washington’s backing for the shah, the presence of US forces and firms in the country, and the granting by the shah of extraterritorial status to US citizens, soldiers and companies transformed proud Iran into a US client state. The clerical regime adopted a confrontational stance in order to curry to popular sentiment. Angered by the ouster of one of its major political and economic assets in West Asia and stung by Teheran's rejection, Washington, which refuses to accept that Iranians could object to its pre-revolutionary policies, argued that Iran's clerical rulers were irrational and mentally unstable, that is "Mad Mullahs." Washington was doubly insulted when Teheran conditioned a resumption of relations on a demand for dialogue on the basis of "equality." The US expects other countries to bow to its demands and accept inferiority and subservience. Now that US troops are in Iraq, the two countries do pose a threat to each other. The US can use its military assets against Iran while Iran can exploit for political gain its close ties with Islamic Dawa and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the dominant parties in the government which are determined to transform that country into an Islamic state. This means that "Great Satan," which has, so far, rejected dialogue with Iran, will have to come to terms with the "Mad Mullahs" to avoid payback in Iraq if, as seems likely, their Shia allies secure control of the full-term parliament in the December poll. An authoritative source in Dubai told The Deccan Herald that Teheran is not worried about Washington's threat of sanctions because the Iran is cooperating with the US in Afghanistan and Iraq. US bluster and bullying and Iran's defiance are meant to camouflage the cooperation between the Great Satan and the Mad Mullahs. This hoax is essential if the two governments are to maintain the current climate of tension and sustain the campaigns of demonisation which both regimes find useful.