Hersh describes a “sea change” in American foreign policy

Seymour Hersh authored a major piece in the New Yorker dated Mar 4/07 and titled Redirection.

[..] To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. [..]

[See also US or Israel will attack Iran by March, and Showdown and The new Quartet: China, Saudi Arabia, US and Israel]

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said. [..]

The key players behind the redirection are Vice-President Dick Cheney, the deputy national-security adviser Elliott Abrams, the departing Ambassador to Iraq (and nominee for United Nations Ambassador), Zalmay Khalilzad, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national-security adviser. While Rice has been deeply involved in shaping the public policy, former and current officials said that the clandestine side has been guided by Cheney. (Cheney’s office and the White House declined to comment for this story; the Pentagon did not respond to specific queries but said, “The United States is not planning to go to war with Iran.”)

The policy shift has brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace, largely because both countries see Iran as an existential threat. They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.

The new strategy “is a major shift in American policy—it’s a sea change,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. The Sunni states “were petrified of a Shiite resurgence, and there was growing resentment with our gambling on the moderate Shiites in Iraq,” he said. “We cannot reverse the Shiite gain in Iraq, but we can contain it.”

“It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals,” Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has written widely on Shiites, Iran, and Iraq, told me. “The Saudis and some in the Administration have been arguing that the biggest threat is Iran and the Sunni radicals are the lesser enemies. This is a victory for the Saudi line.” CONTINUE

[All this is discussed in an Asia Times article, A bombshell that nobody heard.]

[..] Since Hersh published “Plan B” in The New Yorker in June 2004 in which he claimed that the Israelis were “running covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria”, he has been on the other side of this story.

In “The coming wars” in January 2005, he first reported that the Bush administration, like the Israelis, had been “conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since” the summer of 2004. Last April in “The Iran plans”, he reported that the administration was eager to put the “nuclear option” on the table in any future air assault on Iranian nuclear facilities (and that some in the Pentagon, fiercely opposed, had at least temporarily thwarted planning for the possible use of nuclear bunker-busters in Iran).

He also reported that US combat units were “on the ground” in Iran, marking targets for any future air attack, and quoted an unnamed source as claiming that they were also “working with minority groups in Iran, including the Azeris, in the north, the Balochis, in the southeast, and the Kurds, in the northeast. ‘The troops are studying the terrain, and giving away walking-around money to ethnic tribes, and recruiting scouts from local tribes and shepherds,’ the consultant said. One goal is to get ‘eyes on the ground’ … The broader aim, the consultant said, is to ‘encourage ethnic tensions’ and undermine the regime.”

[..] In his Democracy Now! radio interview, he added: “We have been deeply involved with Azeris and Balochis and Iranian Kurds in terror activities inside the country … and, of course, the Israelis have been involved in a lot of that through Kurdistan … Iran has been having sort of a series of back-door fights, the Iranian government, because … they have a significant minority population. Not everybody there is a Persian. If you add up the Azeris and Balochis and Kurds, you’re really 30-some [%], maybe even 40% of the country.”

In addition, he reported that “a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the president, within 24 hours” and that its “new assignment” was to identify not just nuclear facilities and possible regime-change targets, but “targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq”. [..]

March 20, 2007 | 3 Comments »

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3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. It doesn’t take a genius or a conspiratorial mindset to recognize that over the last five years (at least) US policy in the ME has been driven (sorry, Mssrs Walt and Mearsheimer) not by the “Israel Lobby” but largely by the Saudis. From Bush’s call for a Palestinian state in 2002 to the various percs provided to the Saudis like membership in WTO, development contracts in Iraq, 10,000 student visas, tacit acceptance of their propaganda arm in America — CAIR — and (unbelievably in the face of record oil profits) financial aid, the US has kowtowed to the whims, wishes and long-term strategic objectives of the House of Saud. As the primary financiers and inspiration behind Sunni violence, the Saudis have been given a complete pass in the bogus WoT.

    Although it would obviously also benefit Israel, an American-launched war against Iran would come primarily at the behest and accedance of the Saudis.

    There has been no “sea change” in American foreign policy, just new marching orders from Riyadh.

  2. I posted Ken Timmerman’s piece on the Intelligence War in Iran for a reason. Timmerman’s Iran sources are far more redliable than the raving specualtions of Sy Hersh and even Tom Englehardt. Moreover, the U.S. with the aid of possibly Israeli Intelligence and others may have scored an intelligence coup with the arrest of Iranian Quods intelligence operatives in Iraq and the defection of two Iranian Revolutionary Guards generals with info on Iranian weapons development of terrorism programs in Iraq, Lebanon and Gaza.

    Do, I think that black ops are going on in Iran? You betcha. We’d be dumb if we didn’t support irridentist groups like the Azeris, Beluchis, Kurds and even truculent Arabs. But we’ve been dumb not addressing things vis a vis destablizing the Mullahs nad terrorist President Ahmadinejad, Khamanei and the ruling Supreme Council Mullahs. I medan look at the laughable Farsi language VOA service [Iranians get better feed in Farsi out of the Israeli service] and the skimpy virtually non-existent support of in country opposition, students and labor union groups to build a Solidarity type organization to eject the mad Mullahs oppressing their own people to say nothiong of stealing the bread out of their mouth, drug addling their childfren and packing thousands of young girls via humantrafficking into prostitution.

    Do, I think that a Saudi U.S. cabal is afoot to possibly destabilize Iran akin to ‘Charley’s War – the $8 billion secret war rung through the Pakistani S.I.S. and CIA covert ops into Afghanistan that created the mujahideen, Bin Laden and al Qaeda? A bit far fetched.

    Besides, with a tenth of that we could push out the Mullahs by supporting opposition and nailing the Rev Guards Qods forces via special ops, as reported by Timmerman and others.

    Could we be so stupid as to do that again after not only Iran Contra, “Charley’s War” in Afghanistan routing the Soviet 40th Army with our Saudi money and Paki S.I.S. ‘buddies’ and the lingering effects of the CIA orchestrated coup against the Mossadegh government in 1953 that saved the late Shah and the peacock throne and begat the Islamic revolution of 1979? Possibly. Is this the back door ravings of the conspiracy theorists on the left desperate to ‘halt’ any U.S. actions to forestall Iranian nuclear weapon and missile delivery system aspirations and rein in the Mad Mahdust Shia in Tehran and Shialand in Iraq? Likely.

    Is this all aimed at boxing in Israel with its faltering incompetent political leadership to accept the thin gruel of a Saudi peace plan via Mecca with the wily Palestinians and their U.S., U.K. anmd E.U. PR offensive? Most likely.

    Forgive me but all of the over the top conspiratorial brew is putting me to sleep.

  3. Assuming this is correct, the “peace process” in Israel is not going anywhere. There will be no further withdrawal. Perhaps with everyone’s agreement the IDF, will invade Gaza and deal a significant blow to Hamas.

    They have been involved in direct talks, and the Saudis, who believe that greater stability in Israel and Palestine will give Iran less leverage in the region, have become more involved in Arab-Israeli negotiations.

    Perhaps the Mecca Accords are intended to stabilize the conflict but not to settle it. Its a smoke screen to argue that the settlement of the Palestinian/Israeli issues are core to solving the ME. On the contrary, everyone is focusing on containing Iran and possibly regime change.

    It is not logical that Saudi Arabia would care about the Palestinian issue when they have Iran to worry about.

    Once again, the US is getting in bed with Sunni extremists to defeat an enemy.

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