Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bill Roggio scoops the media; paints a picture of Iranian involvement in Iraq

If this story appeared in a major newspaper, or ran on a broadcast news report, it'd be called a bombshell. According to Mr. Roggio Iran isn't honoring the agreement to keep it's nose out of the violence in Iraq:

The Ramazan Corps is based out of the Ramazan Command Center in Tehran, but information obtained by The Long War Journal indicates significant elements have forward deployed to Mehran on the border to coordinate activities.The Ramazan Corps is split into three separate commands – Nasr, Zafar, and Fajr – each covering a roughly geographical area in Iraq.

The Long War Journal confirmed this information with a spokesman at Multinational Forces Iraq, which was hesitant to provide additional information on the Ramazan Corps. "At this particular time MNF-I is only prepared to confirm the names of the three commands that are subordinate to Ramazan Corps and that [Mahmudi] Farhadi is the Commander of the Zafr Command," said Lieutenant Commander Kevin S. Anderson.

The Nasr Command is based in Marivan in the Iranian north and deals with operations in the Kurdish regions and portions of Diyala province. The Zafar Command is based in Mehran in central Iran, and deals with operations in central Iraq, including Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Babil, Wasit, and portions of Diyala province.

The Fajr Command is based in Ahvaz in the south, although information obtained by The Long War Journal indicated command elements have moved forward to bases in Khorramshahr and Shalamcheh to direct operations.

The Fajr Command directs operations in Basrah, Dhi Qhar, Maysan, and Muthanna.Inside Iraq, the city of Amarah in Maysan province serves as a Qods Force / Ramazan Corps command and control center as well as one of the major distribution points for weapons in southern Iraq. ...

Since the surge began, Coalition and Iraqi forces have made significant efforts to target the Qods Force-backed Special Groups operating in Iraq. Raids on Special Groups and rogue Mahdi Army cells skyrocketed since the surge began in January, while border crossings have been reinforced with Iraqi and Coalition forces.

In Wasit province, Multinational Division Central deployed a Georgian Army brigade along the border to specifically intercept the Iranian ratlines flowing from Badrah to Al Kut and Baghdad.

While several senior Iraqi officials and US military commanders have stated Iran has cooperated in reducing the flow of weapons and fighters into Iraq, some US combat commanders engaged in fighting the Special Groups disagree.

On November 15, Major General James Simmons, the Deputy Commander for Multinational Forces Iraq said the reduction in Iranian-inspired attacks along with a lack of evidence that weapons were crossing the border indicate Iran has agreed to a pledge to reduce violence in Iraq. "We believe that this indicates the commitments Iran has made appear to be holding up," Simmons said.

Iraqi spokesman Ali al Dabbagh agreed. "Iran is showing more restraint in sending people and weapons to destabilize Iraq," said Dabbagh on November 18. "[Prime Minister Maliki] spoke very frankly with the supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] in Mashad. He said Iran had to choose whether to support the [Iraqi] government or any other party. ... Everything gives the feeling that Iran is making good on its pledge. The freezing of the Mahdi Army is evidence of its good intentions. Iran played a role in this.”

But three US commanders directly in the fight against the Special Groups in three of the most active theaters for the Ramazan Corps -- Baghdad, central provinces, and along the Iranian border -- disagree.

Colonel Don Farris, the commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division based in the heart of Sadr City in Baghdad, stated the Special Groups still pose a major threat. "While the violence is down, I remain very concerned in our sector about these special groups," Farris said. "They're very lethal, they're organized, they're sophisticated and I have not seen that their operations have declined or diminished in any way, shape or form here in the last several months. We have not seen any slowing down or any indicators that these special groups are going to curtail their activities or quit receiving this support that's coming from outside the country."

Major General Rick Lynch, the Commander of Multinational Division Central, whose area of operations includes Wasit, Karbala, Babil, and southern Baghdad provinces, is not certain Iran has reduced the flow of aid to the Shia terror groups. "I don't know what this Iranian pledge is, but the number of munitions has increased," Lynch said on November 11. "It could be that we are finding them more. But it is still troublesome. I have no idea when these EFP munitions came ... before or after the pledge. I don't know."

On November 22, Lynch stated his forces are still finding Iranian munitions "that are traceable back to Iran," and the Special Groups are still active. "They're still operating in our battlespace," he said. "But I can't say whether or not this is an increased problem or a flatline problem or a decreasing problem."

Colonel Mark Mueller, the commander of the border transition team in Wasit province, stated on November 20 that weapons are still moving across the border. "We do know that explosively formed penetrators are getting across the border, we do know that ... rockets are coming across the border, so of course it's a concern," Mueller said.

Go read the whole thing, and click on the image at the top of the page. It's a flash media piece that shows the "ratlines" the Iranians are using. NIE or no NIE, it's time Congress grew a set, and formally recognized that Iran is now a player in this war, and that our troops should have the ability to engage them. Additionally, the president needs to warn Iran that if they don't stop, there will be repercussions, and the first targets should be their nuclear facilities. Enough is enough, and the mullahs in Tehran need to be taught a lesson. No more carrots. No more words.

Publius II


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