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Reader Says:
“EC is Wrong; Iran is not Helping the US in Iraq.”

Jared Israel replies

[Posted 6 April 2003]

For more articles arguing that the Iraq invasion will inevitably strengthen the Iranian regime, go to


[ ]

Dear Emperor’s Clothes,

Regarding your article, “Iran Works with the US in Iraq,” at

It seems to me you have missed the obvious. Iran is not supporting the US attack. Revolutionary Iran has always been a victim of the U.S. Isn’t that obvious? Patrick Seale told the simple truth when he wrote:

“… Iran may have an interest in weakening the U.S. forces as much as they can so as not to be the next targets of an American attack.”[1]

Not helping the US. Weakening it.

T. Hillbut,

San Francisco, California


Jared Israel Replies


Dear Mr. Hillbut,

Alas, the truth is not simple.

I read Mr. Seale’s article in the Gulf News and also several similar pieces, such as Gwynne Dyer's article, in the Toronto Star, entitled, "Shia militants await their turn."[2]

Mr. Dyer agrees with you. He wrote:

[Start Toronto Star excerpt]

"Iran's Islamist government is split between the moderate reformers around President Mohammad Khatami and the radical mullahs around Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but it is the mullahs who control the army and foreign policy.

They are terrified by the imminent arrival of the U.S. army on Iran's western frontier, only a couple of hours' drive from the country's biggest oil fields, especially since President George Bush has put Iran on his "axis of evil" hit list. So the more trouble the United States has in Iraq, the better."

[End Toronto Star excerpt]

The evidence given to support such assertions is that US and Iranian leaders have recently made some negative statements about each other.

But such statements can be deceptive.  For one thing, these officials are playing to different audiences, and their respective audiences want and expect them to verbally attack each other.

Moreover, Iran and the U.S. have been trading the same hostile statements for years. Indeed, the mutual attacks seem to get hottest precisely when Iran and the US are working together on some covert project. Perhaps this is intended to divert us, just as members of a gang of pickpockets may stage a loud argument and then, while the onlookers are absorbed watching the show, steal their wallets.

In upcoming articles I will show how this worked during the US-coordinated, Iranian and Saudi terrorist campaign in Bosnia during the early 1990s.

But for now, let us take up your argument, as expounded by Mr. Dyer, the illustrious writer for the Toronto Star and writer-producer for the BBC and CBC.

Dyer says, the "radical mullahs" who "control the army and foreign policy" are shaking with terror "since President George Bush has put Iran on his 'axis of evil' hit list. So the more trouble the United States has in Iraq, the better."

Nicely put. But is it true? This question is important because if Mr. Dyer is wrong, that is, if I am right in saying that Iran welcomes this war because it will inevitably increase Iran's power, and if the ayatollahs are taking concrete steps on the ground to support this war, then the implications are enormous. To start with, if the Iranians are helping the US, there would have to be an understanding between them. Everything points to this conclusion (as we shall see in this and future articles).

And, if so, what does that mean? That the whole US stance - that this war is intended to weaken terrorist forces - is exposed as preposterous. Because whatever one thinks of the US establishment or Saddam Hussein, it is clear that the Iranian regime is one of the strongest supporters of Islamic fundamentalist terror.


The facts on the ground show Iran wants to help the US-led war.


Going by existing news reports (and, of course, such reports may be inaccurate or incomplete) Mr. Dyer is quite wrong. 

The Iranians, it appears, are actually quite anxious to help the US side.

For example, consider the following from The Australian. The important part is in the fourth paragraph (emphasis mine).[3]

[Start excerpt from The Australian]

Saddam Hussein's personal coterie of suicide bombers and a new generation of fundamentalist Islamic terrorists pose a serious threat to coalition forces, including Australian navy sailors and divers, patrolling Iraq's southern waterways.

Chief of navy Vice-Admiral Chris Ritchie said yesterday the transport ship HMAS Kanimbla and frigates HMAS Anzac and HMAS Darwin had been on alert since the discovery of Iraqi boats packed with explosives.

Meanwhile, a leading Australian defence analyst warned that so-called Islamic fundamentalist "volunteer" fighters from Syria, Russia, Iran and Indonesia could join Iraqi terrorist groups in launching attacks on coalition forces.

The alert came after Iranian gunboats intercepted an Iraqi speedboat packed with 500kg of explosives at the mouth of the Shatt-al-Arab River, the border between the two countries. Three other boats got away.

Vice-Admiral Ritchie said yesterday that all ships in the Gulf were on alert for the speedboats.

He said it was believed a suicide speedboat had been responsible for the October 2000 attack on USS Cole in Yemen, which killed 17 US sailors.

[End excerpt from The Australian]

Does this report suggest that the Iranian Mullahs, who, Mr. Dyer informs us, control the military, are doing everything they can to make things harder for the U.S. side?

In this instance, the Iranians wouldn't have needed to do anything to make things a lot worse for the US side. The Iranian coastal patrol could simply have failed to notice the Iraqi suicide boats.  Or the Iranian patrol could have seen them too late and fired after they were out of range. And missed.

If one of those speedboats had hit the HMAS Kanimbla - a transport ship - and killed a lot of Australian troops, it would have been a disaster for the U.S. side.

Note also that according to the article, Australian ships have gone "on alert since the discovery of Iraqi boats packed with explosives."

"The discovery"?

But this "discovery" was not made by the Australians.

It was made by the Iranians.

The Australians would not have known they needed to go on alert unless the Iranian military had contacted them and told them they had intercepted the suicide boats.

Doesn’t this suggest that the Iranian and Australian navies are in close contact, with a previous agreement that the Iranians would patrol these (for them) familiar coastal waters to protect Australian ships from suicide attacks?

I could not find any mention of this important incident in the British or American media.  Why not?  Why doesn't the media want us to know that the Iranians saved the day - indeed, heroically saved the day. (Remember, these were suicide boats, loaded with explosives…)

Even The Australian downplayed the incident. Thus, rather than put it on Page 1, where it belonged, they put it on page 2. And instead of giving the article a logical headline, such as:

"Iranian Navy Saves Australians from Suicide Boat!"

they gave it the innocuous title:

"Navy frigates on alert for suicide speedboats - War On Iraq: Day Eight"

And the article did not mention the most newsworthy item - namely, that it was the Iranians who saved the day for the US-led coalition - until the fourth paragraph.

Most people don't read more than the headline of an article. Among the minority that do read past the headline, most drop away before the fourth paragraph. So even among the small group who noticed this article, the great majority never learned about the Iranian role.

But at least The Australian did report this remarkable incident.  Which is more than can be said for the rest of the English-speaking media.


US and Iran cooperate to destroy a former Iranian ally.


Here is another example.

According to the March 31st Australian Financial Review, the US and Iran have been coordinating actions in northern Iraq where Iran has, reportedly, sacrificed an old ally, the better to cozy up to the Great Satan.[4]

[Start excerpt from Australian Financial Review]

The weekend capture of the Ansar al-Islam enclave in northern Iraq shows the eve-of-war agreement between Washington and Tehran is holding despite major differences between the two over issues such as Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program.

"Ansar al-Islam is an extremist group with suspect objectives, and there is no link between this group and Iran," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said last week in Tehran.

Yet Iran had been quietly backing Ansar for two years, right up to the outbreak of war.

Tehran was rewarded for its abandonment of Ansar with a grudging aside from US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"Thus far Iran has not done things that are making our life more difficult in Iraq," he said…

Washington and the PUK …say that until recently Iran allowed Ansar to cross its border freely, including trips to take munitions into Iraq.

This stopped after the opening US attack on Ansar, the March 21 cruise missile strike on its enclave.

At a Geneva meeting on March16, Zalmay Khalilzad, US President George Bush's envoy to the Iraqi opposition, reportedly obtained agreement from Iranian officials that US pilots shot down over Iran would be handed back to Washington.

Iran also agreed not to send any military forces across the border including those of the Iran-based Arab Shia opposition group, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

This was an easy thing for Tehran to agree to. Some months back, with the consent of the PUK, it had already established a reported 5000 soldiers of the Badr Brigade, SCIRI's armed wing, in an enclave in Iraqi Kurdistan in the same region as the Ansar enclave.

But if the Geneva deal suited Washington at least in the short term it seems Iran is also benefiting under its terms.

Just as Tehran has for decades hosted SCIRI, Baghdad has hosted a countervailing Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq.

The second Gulf War and the Geneva deal appear to have spelt the end for the Mujahedin, a longstanding thorn in Tehran's side.

As early as February, a Mujahedin delegation was touring Europe seeking a refuge for their leader, Masud Rajavi, should a US invasion drive him out of Iraq, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported. And late last week, Iranian officials said the US had attacked and destroyed Mujahedin bases in eastern Iraq.

The departure of the Mujahedin from the scene is a tangible benefit to Iran of co-operating with the US.

But the Geneva deal also included a commitment by Tehran to cut off support for Ansar. According to the leader of another Kurdish faction that has its own enclave nearby, Ansar cadres wounded in the initial US strikes who sought refuge across the border were turned away by the Iranians.

"They went inside one kilometre, but then the Iranians made them go back," said Muhammad Hagi Mahmud, head of the Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party…

[End excerpt from Australian Financial Review]

And finally, consider the following letter, which we received a few days ago, regarding an interview in the German publication, Junge Welt.

It appears that Junge Welt, originally the main Communist youth publication in the GDR (East Germany) is ideologically inclined to portray Iran as part of some uniform Muslim opposition to the war, despite the evidence of their own interview. But here is the letter, so you may judge for yourself:

Dear EC,

Today the ex-communist Junge Welt has published an interview with Safaa Mahmoud, representative of the Iranian controlled Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq or SCIRI, in Vienna. As you know, SCIRI is comprised of Iraqi Shi'ites exiled from the Hussein regime.  It is said that they are armed and trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, that is, by the regime in Iran.

The headline is "Why don't Shiites support the US?"

But the content of the interview however is quite the opposite [i.e. it suggests that the Shiites are supporting the US]. Mahmoud contradicts the rumours of about 6000 pro-Iraqi volunteers being enrolled by Hussein's government; he openly ridicules the call to jihad issued by Saddam Hussein.

I will translate some of it for you:

[Start excerpt from Junge Welt article]

"'Iraqis do not accept that call. It's ridiculous. After the liberation of the big Iraqi provinces and cities like Basra and Nasiriya you will see the gladness in the faces of ordinary Iraqis on TV. The Iraqis will greet the US and British troops as liberators, and the world will change its opinion on this war.'"

[End excerpt from Junge Welt article]

Your readers may read the original at:

Best regards and please continue your work.

A reader in Germany


I find the Junge Welt interview remarkable.  In the past, the US and Iran maintained a front of extreme hostility even when (indeed, especially when) they were engaged in the closest covert cooperation. This was true during the Iran-Contra affair and during the US-Iranian collaboration in Bosnia; the public statements they made about each other were uniformly hostile.

These days, Iran and the US are also trading insults. But, in addition, spokesmen for SCIRI, the Iraqi exile group, sometimes say positive things about the American invasion. SCIRI, as our reader correctly states, is armed and trained and financed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, that is, by Mr. Dyer's mullahs. So, these positive statements about the American war, made by SCIRI, represent Iranian policy.

Are Mr. Dyer and other commentators simply mistaken when they say Iran wishes to hinder the US invasion? Or are they deliberately misinforming us? It appears that at least one newspaper, the Washington Post, has indeed lied to give readers the impression that Iran is fiercely opposing the US in Iraq.

I will present the evidence for this charge in my next article, entitled, reasonably enough, "Washington Post Apparently Lies to Create Impression of Iranian-US Hostility."

Jared Israel
Emperor's Clothes


[Footnotes Follow The Appeal]


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Footnotes and Further Reading


[1] Mr. Hillbut is quoting from the following article:
Headline: Imperial America’s Dangerous Adventure; Byline: Patrick Seale; Gulf News; April 4, 2003; Copyright 2003 Al Nisr Publishing Llc

[2] Toronto Star; April 4, 2003 Friday Ontario Edition; Section: Opinion; Pg. A25; Headline: Shia Militants; Await Their Turn; Byline: Gwynne Dyer

[3] The Australian; March 28, 2003 Friday Tc Edition; Section: World; Pg. 2; Headline: Navy Frigates On Alert  For Suicide Speedboats - War On Iraq: Day Eight; Source: Matp; Byline: John Kerin

[4] Australian Financial Review; March 31, 2003 Monday; Section: News; International News; Pg. 11; Headline: Iran Comes In From The Cold; Byline: Nick Hordern.

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