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Thursday, August 11, 2005

Iran seems to have aborted the negotiation process in regards to its nuclear programme and now on to this:
Britain formally protested to Iran yesterday over its growing interference in Iraq's internal affairs, citing the smuggling of sophisticated explosives that threaten to send coalition casualties soaring.
The move came after British and American intelligence officials said they uncovered evidence that Iran's Revolutionary Guard was providing deadly "shaped" charges to Iraq's insurgents.
A statement by the Foreign Office said: "Any Iranian link to armed groups in Iraq outside the political process, either through supply of weapons, training or funding are unacceptable and undermine Iran's long-term interest to secure a stable and democratic Iraq."
. . .
The development also raises the possibility that Iran's newly-installed hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has decided to provoke the coalition in response to the huge international pressure he is facing to end Iran's nuclear programme.
Coalition casualties have been rising in recent weeks, in part it is believed because of new and more sophisticated explosives. In one incident last month, three British troops died in a roadside bomb attack in Amarah, north of Basra. In another last week, 14 US marines were killed by one of the new devices near Haditha.
A British intelligence source said there were indications that the devices are "increasingly being designed and built in neighbouring Iran and then transported to Iraq".
American and British officers say the new bombs are similar to those used by Hizbollah fighters against the Israelis in southern Lebanon.
Unsurprisingly Iran denies this of course. However given Iran’s hardliners past behaviour, it would not be surprising if they chose to confront the junior coalition leader first rather than take the US head on; that way hoping to create splits in the alliance and weaken it politically. As an Iran wargame in last November suggested, in the event that Iran felt it could be considered for attack it would probably move in first to prevent such action by massively destabilising Iraq. The wargame was also deeply pessimistic about any military solution to the conflict, conluding that only an all-out war of regime change would suffice. Given the difficulties in Iraq a rather unlikely option, to say the least. I have real doubts that barring any major emergency, there will be any public support for serious action. Which of course is a problem in itself, because as long as the military option can not be put on the negotiating table, all talk about bringing Iran before the UN etc are pretty worthless.
Unless somebody can come up with some genius new military approach, the only option I can see at the moment is that the West follows down the existing diplomatic track and hopes that more international support for a tough line, might convince the new regime in Iran that it will suffer seriously in economic-technological terms if it doesn’t cooperate.
Still, best option still remains an Iranian revolution that removes the exiting system. Here’s hoping.

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