Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Perspective: Iraq's Iranian Links Fall Under Scrutiny

In Iraq, the ties to neighboring Iran are as apparent as the desert sun. They reach back to Islam's earliest days, and before.

But the "Iran connection" this week took on a darker, murkier look. Questions, contradictions and discrepancies swirled around a U.S. report that officials at the highest levels in Iran were ordering arms flows into the Iraqi conflict.

Experts aren't surprised by the American claims. Iran's Shiite Muslim government supported Iraq's underground Shiite opposition in the 1980s and 1990s, when Saddam Hussein's Baathists, mostly from the rival Sunni sect, ruled in Baghdad.

"Logically" -- now that those Shiites are in power -- "the Iranians would keep up their involvement, their support," said retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, former U.S. Middle East commander.

But both Zinni and Joost Hiltermann, a respected Mideast political analyst, see a new "dangerous game" under way involving the weapons.

Read the rest at the Washington Post