One of Josh Marshall's astute readers made an interesting point recently, namely that US officials have started using the term "al Qaeda" to refer to people and groups that have been heretofore considered "insurgents" or "Sunni/Shia" groups involved in Iraq's civil war.
Iraq and al Qaeda, the lie that just won't die. Now that the drums of war are sounding ever louder for Iran, Bush administration officials are pushing the ludicrous idea that Iranian Shiites are supporting and arming al Qaeda Sunnis. Marshall points us to some remarks from Gen. Petraeus via Andy Sullivan:
They are trained in Iran, equipped with Iranian (weapons), and advised by Iran. The Iranian involvement here we have found to be much, much more significant that we thought before. They have since about the summer of 2004 played a very, very important role in training in Iran, funding, arming. This is lethal stuff, like EFPs (explosively-formed penetrators), mortars, and rockets that are used against Basra Palace (the main British base in Basra).
One of the many things the American occupation of Iraq has shown us is that even with US forces as a common enemy, Sunnis and Shiites will still manage to find the time and energy to fight one another. For quite some time our government has tried to portray every single Arab as a particular brand of extremist depending on the enemy du jour: Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq,
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Lebanon, the Palestinians - peoples with radically different languages, histories, religious beliefs and even ethnicities.
Iraq is lost, Bush, Cheney and Petraeus know that. Petraeus was built up as a Golden Child, a messiah-like figure. But his reputation isn't really going to be wasted on something like trying to win in Iraq. Rather, his reputation was built up, this surge was put into place in order to "find" evidence that Iran is "training. . .funding [and] arming" every Iraqi with any type of weapon, no matter how much that particular Iraqi might hate Iran from either the brutal war between the two countries or the centuries of hostilities between Sunnis and Shiites.
The nonsense coming from Petraeus about Iran - as if we haven't already heard about Iranian-produced weapons only to find it a lie - shows not only how close to war with Iran we are, but also undermines the overly-optimistic reporting about the Rice-Cheney conflict in the White House, especially the idea that Sec. State Rice actually has the upper hand right now. The State Department has been used since day one as merely a convenient cover for the Bush administration's real goals, and a loyal lackey like Condoleezza Rice isn't going to offer even the tepid level of dissent Colin Powell managed to dredge up.
Feel free to use the comments to offer your predictions for the date our war with Iran publicly begins.