Bush Team Opts for More Diplomacy with Iran

On May 1, US President George W. Bush landed on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln opposite the San Diego coast of California and declared, “Combat operations in Iraq have ended.” Thirty days later, US Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, commander of American mili8tary forces on the ground Iraq, said: “The war has not ended.” Speaking after five GIs were killed in Iraqi hostile ambushes in a week, he said: “Decisive combat operations against military formations have ended, but these contacts we’re having right now are in a combat zone – and it is war”.
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The confusion is understandable. The way wars normally ended in the past was for one belligerent to concede defeat and surrender to the victor. That however is not the way military confrontations seem to end in the 21st century. The two wars led by the Bush administration ended in the conquest of most or all of enemy territory, an American declaration of victory or termination of belligerence – but no concessions of defeat from enemy leaders. Quite the contrary, Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar and even Saddam Hussein & Sons declare they will fight on. For them, being deposed does not equal defeat.
Yasser Arafat and the ruling ayatollahs of Tehran are finding these precedents extraordinarly encouraging when they look at their own future.
Prior to the May 12 suicide bombing attacks on three residential compounds in Riyadh – in which nine Americans were killed according to official figure and scores injured – the government in Washington knew a lot about the preparations in progress for the strike; they were also informed that its al Qaeda perpetrators were heading for the target zone through Iran and northern Iraq. debkafile and DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported more than once that Iran, with active assistance from China and North Korea, had exploited America’s absorption in putting together the Iraqi conflict to race ahead with its nuclear bomb program. US intelligence was fully aware that Iran would have its own bomb arsenal by 2005 together with nuclear-capable missiles.
All this was scheduled to come before a crucial White House consultation led by the president on Thursday May 29, after it was postponed from Tuesday May 27. On the agenda was a decision whether or not to come to grips by dint of direct, open and conclusive action with Iran’s nuclear program and the al Qaeda bases on its soil.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly No. 111revealed on May 30 that the following additional information was to have been put before the conference:
Saif al-Adil, one of the planners of the May 12 bombings at Riyadh’s elite housing compounds, is not the only senior al Qaeda operative sheltered by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. With him too are Abu Musaab al Zarqawi, the Jordanian bio-chemical warfare expert who plotted large-scale terror campaigns for Europe and the Middle East from a base in northern Iraq, and Mahfuz Ould Waleed, known as Abu Hafs, a dangerous operations expert from Mauritania.
In its protest to Tehran straight after the attacks in Riyadh, Washington handed over all three names, together with those of their followers and taped recordings of telephone conversations proving the fugitives were in Iran.
It now transpires that immediately after receiving the American protest, Iranian Revolutionary Guards intelligence agents flew the al Qaeda rank and file – but not their commanders – out of the country to Armenia and thence to the Pankisi Gorge, the lawless Georgian-Chechen frontier region. This is the first substantial intelligence data reaching the Americans that prove the Revolutionary Guards and Saudi al Qaeda fighting strength in both Saudi Arabia and Chechnya maintain active intelligence and operational interchanges.
Also to be put before the White House conference is a report about a Turkish radical Islamic terror group called Bayaatal Al-Imam (“Those Who Obey the Imam”), whose members are employed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as couriers. They ply the routes between al Qaeda cells in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and northern Iraq, as well as the Hizballah in Lebanon, carrying messages, funds, arms and explosives. Like the al Qaeda commanders, these Turkish radicals are to be found in Iran under the Revolutionary Guards’ wing. This is the first time the United States has specific intelligence evidence of the operational partnership between al Qaeda and the Lebanese Hizballah. Thus far the DEBKA-Net-Weekly report.
According to debkafile‘s Washington sources, President Bush and his advisers, by calling off their consultation, decided not to decide. The administration will go on as before with the secret diplomatic dialogue it has conducted since the beginning of this year with representatives of the hard line Iranian regime, in the belief that it will yield at least four returns.
1. Iran will continue to hold back from meddling in Iraq and among the Shiite community.
2. After transferring the al Qaeda rank and file to Chechnya, Iran will be able to secretly surrender to the US the senior commanders. In the framework of a handover deal, the Iranians may even give up al Qaeda operatives hiding in Lebanon under Syrian and Hizballah protection.
3. Iran will decommission Hizballah’s heavy weapons, including its missiles, and guarantee that the Lebanese terror group desist from terrorist activity against Israel.
4. A US-Iranian deal is possible for stripping Tehran’s nuclear program of all its military applications.
This article will be continued later Saturday

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