Iran: I know you are but what am I?

Over the weekend, I finally had a chance to watch Frontline‘s recent show on Iran, and I found some of the extended comments by the new Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohammad Jafari to be very interesting. He said: FRONTLINE The problem with the U.S. intelligence system is that it receives its intelligence about Iran ...

598437_jafarip_05.jpg
598437_jafarip_05.jpg

Over the weekend, I finally had a chance to watch Frontline's recent show on Iran, and I found some of the extended comments by the new Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohammad Jafari to be very interesting. He said:

FRONTLINE

The problem with the U.S. intelligence system is that it receives its intelligence about Iran from Iran's enemies. This may prompt the American government to make some mistakes. And you can be sure that this is the case, too, with respect to Iraq. ...

Over the weekend, I finally had a chance to watch Frontline‘s recent show on Iran, and I found some of the extended comments by the new Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohammad Jafari to be very interesting. He said:

FRONTLINE

The problem with the U.S. intelligence system is that it receives its intelligence about Iran from Iran’s enemies. This may prompt the American government to make some mistakes. And you can be sure that this is the case, too, with respect to Iraq. …

The United States gets its intelligence [about Iran] from two sources in Iraq. One is the Mujahideen-e Khalq [MEK]; the other is the Mukhabarat intelligence [agency].

The Mukhabarat organization, created by the Americans and still not under the control of the Iraqis but under the control of Americans, is made up entirely of Baath Party officials, Saddam’s old spies, who were active in spying on Iran. Outside these two sources, no one provides the intelligence they have on Iran.

So these are America’s intelligence sources. It’s natural — what kind of information do they provide to the U.S. on Iran? Do they provide good intelligence about Iran to the United States, or will they try to exacerbate existing conflicts between Iran and the U.S. to further their own interests?

Facing escalating drumbeats from the United States, Iran has launched what appears to be a coordinated public diplomacy campaign. In addition to Jafari, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the interior minister, and other Iranian officials have begun explicitly charging the United States with supporting and/or sponsoring anti-Iranian “terrorism” in Iraq and Afghanistan. They darkly cite U.S. inaction regarding the PKK showdown with Turkey and alleged coddling of the MEK, which the U.S. State Department has designated as a terrorist organization, as evidence that the United States supports terrorism. There have been scattered stories from reporters like Seymour Hersh hinting that the United States is secretly using such groups to gather intelligence and “‘encourage ethnic tensions'” and undermine the regime,” but I am extremely skeptical that anything beyond intelligence collection is going on. I would expect we’d see a campaign of leaks in major newspapers if the United States truly were, say, backing the PJAK, Kurdish guerrillas affiliated with the PKK who are attacking Iran, or Baluchi terrorists operating out of western Pakistan. It’s hard to keep something like that secret these days.

Still, Jafari’s complaints do raise questions about the quality of the intelligence the U.S. military is getting on Iranian involvement in Iraq and feeding to reporters. In his interview, Jafari was evasive when asked specific questions about the role of the Quds Force and the alleged Iranian supplying of so-called “explosively formed penetrator” bombs in Iraq. If he had been forthright in answering those questions, his protestations might come across as more credible.

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