Tuesday, April 3, 2007
No Quid Pro Quo?
Patrick Cockburn claims, in The Independent, that Iran targeted "highly vulnerable Navy search parties in the Gulf", eventually leading to the capture and detention of the 15 British sailors now held in Tehran, as a result of an incident that took place this past January in the Iraqi Kurdistan city of Irbil (Arbil).
At that time, American forces raided an Iranian liaison office and detained five Iranian nationals. Iran, the Kurds and the Iraqi government formally protested, claiming the detained men were diplomats and the building a soon-to-be consulate. The US claimed the men were intelligence agents involved in targeting Coalition forces in Iraq.
Oddly enough, Cockburn fails to mention that just after the raid, American forces were engaged in a tense standoff with Kurdish Peshmerga forces as they tried to detain more people at the Irbil airport. He does, however, identify the targets of the two raids:
The two senior Iranian officers the US sought to capture were Mohammed Jafari, the powerful deputy head of the Iranian National Security Council, and General Minojahar Frouzanda, the chief of intelligence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, according to Kurdish officials.
The two men were in Kurdistan on an official visit during which they met the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, and later saw Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), at his mountain headquarters overlooking Arbil.
It's obviously impossible to know for sure if Cockburn's right. But in an interesting development, another Iranian diplomat who was "seized" two months ago by uniformed Iraqi soldiers considered to be under the direction of Coalition forces was just released.