This is interesting. Apparently Dick Cheney and his pals have been spreading rumors that Iran is arming the Taliban in Afghanistan. Iran arming Al Qaeda type groups doesn't make sense. Last week Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeil, finally denied the allegations. Kudos to Gates and McNeil - I respect honesty. I love a country where Generals and Defense Secretaries are free to contradict the Vice President. Saddam Hussein would have had his General's arms broken, or worse.
Cheney’s Iran-Arms-to-Taliban Gambit Rebuffed
by Gareth Porter
WASHINGTON - A media campaign portraying Iran as supplying arms to the Taliban guerrillas fighting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, orchestrated by advocates of a more confrontational stance toward Iran in the George W. Bush administration, appears to have backfired last week when Defence Secretary Robert Gates and the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Dan McNeil, issued unusually strong denials.
The allegation that Iran has reversed a decade-long policy and is now supporting the Taliban, conveyed in a series of press articles quoting “senior officials” in recent weeks, is related to a broader effort by officials aligned with Vice President Dick Cheney to portray Iran as supporting Sunni insurgents, including al Qaeda, to defeat the United States in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
An article in the Guardian published May 22 quoted an anonymous U.S. official as predicting an “Iranian-orchestrated summer offensive in Iraq, linking al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents to Tehran’s Shia militia allies” and as referring to the alleged “Iran-al Qaeda linkup” as “very sinister”.
That article and subsequent reports on CNN May 30, in the Washington Post Jun. 3 and on ABC news Jun. 6 all included an assertion by an unnamed U.S. official or a “senior coalition official” that Iran is following a deliberate policy of supplying the Taliban’s campaign against U.S., British and other NATO forces.
In the most dramatic version of the story, ABC reported “NATO officials” as saying they had “caught Iran red-handed, shipping heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs to the Taliban for use against NATO forces.”
Far from showing that Iran had been “caught red-handed”, however, the report quoted from an analysis which cited only the interception in Afghanistan of a total of four vehicles coming from Iran with arms and munitions of Iranian origin. The report failed to refer to any evidence of Iranian government involvement.
Both Gates and McNeill denied flatly last week that there is any evidence linking Iranian authorities to those arms. Gates told a press conference on Jun. 4, “We do not have any information about whether the government of Iran is supporting this, is behind it, or whether it’s smuggling, or exactly what is behind it.” Gates said that “some” of the arms in question might be going to Afghan drug smugglers.
The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. McNeill, implied that the arms trafficking from Iran is being carried out by private interests. “[W]hen you say weapons being provided by Iran, that would suggest there is some more formal entity involved in getting these weapons here,” he told Jim Loney of Reuters June 5. “That’s not my view at all.”