Peace Like A River

It was a wide river, mistakable for a lake or even an ocean unless you'd been wading and knew its current. Somehow I'd crossed it... Now I saw the stream regrouped below, flowing on through what might've been vineyards, pastures, orhards... It flowed between and alongside the rivers of people; from here it was no more than a silver wire winding toward the city. - Leif Enger, Peace Like A River

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Doing deals with the devil is risky business

First, a note of caution. You and I don't really have the means to judge the accuracy of this report. But, some interesting news, if true, in the Telegraph today...

Iran is secretly training Chechen rebels in sophisticated terror techniques to enable them to carry out more effective attacks against Russian forces, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

Teams of Chechen fighters are being trained at the Revolutionary Guards' Imam Ali training camp, located close to Tajrish Square in Teheran, according to Western intelligence reports.

In addition to receiving training in the latest terror techniques, the Chechen volunteers undergo ideological and political instruction by hardline Iranian mullahs at Qom.

The disclosure that Iran is training Chechen rebels will not go down well in Moscow, which regards itself as a close ally of the Iranian regime.

Russia has sided with Iran in the diplomatic stand-off over Teheran's controversial nuclear programme.

Some have said that Russia's assistance to Iran came with an understanding that Iran would not involve itself in the Caucasus.

Would Iran be so bold/foolish/stupid as to jeopardize an ally on the UN Security Council, one that could help forestall UN sanctions?

If this story is true, I think one or more of the following possibilities are true.

* Iran feels that Russia's usefulness is nearing an end, and can afford to resume its role as chief sponsor of terrorism. Perhaps this is an indication that Iran's nuclear program is closer to completion than anyone realizes.

* Iran has merely been using Russia to hold off the West. Iran senses Russia's inherent weaknesses, and knows that Russia's nuclear weapons and its seat on the Security Council are the only reasons Russia enjoys the prominence it does on the world stage. Russia uses those to maintain the world's attention. Iran has skillfully manipulated those weaknesses to its own end. (You may recall from an earlier post, Russia has roughly the same GDP as the Netherlands. You don't see the Netherlands brokering deals like this in the UN, do you? No, and why not? The Netherlands doesn't have nukes, and isn't one of the five permanent Security Council members.)

* Iran let slip this news, whether true or not, to force Russia into giving up its proposal that Russia retain control of waste generated in Iran's reactors. Iran needs that waste for its nuclear weapons program. (The trade being, you let us keep the waste, and this time we really will stop sponsoring terrorism in the Caucasus. Really. Trust us this time.)

* Iran has wanted to do more to get involved in the Caucasus. There has been a strong Wahabbi influence among the Chechen terrorists. Perhaps Iran used its diplomatic dance with Russia to open the door to Chechnya and become more of a player in that region. Russia looked the other way, either willfully or out of ignorance, thinking it was using Iran to bolster its world position, until it was too late.

Regardless of the truth in this particular story, it would be a deadly mistake to underestimate the willingness of the regime in Iran to use terrorism to further its goals. And if and when Iran has nuclear weapons, how much bolder do you think Iran will be in supporting terrorism, knowing it has a 20-kiloton club in its back pocket with which to beat anyone who tries to confront Iran?

Tick tick tick...


  • At Sun Nov 27, 08:51:00 PM, hammerswing75 said…


    I think it is best to withdraw the troops from Iraq immediately. This friendly gesture will surely convince the Iranians that we like them. It's kind of like a nice Valentine's Day card.

    More seriously, the administration has been incredibly weak on this one. Faster please.

  • At Sun Nov 27, 09:20:00 PM, Jeff said…

    Speaking of faster please, Michael Ledeen has long advocated that one of the most effective things the US could be doing is strongly supporting the dissenters and protestors in Iran, to foster regime change from within. The US hasn't even been doing that. Why? No idea.

  • At Mon Nov 28, 01:55:00 AM, Anonymous said…

    clinton tried some initiatives 'from within'. many in iran see/saw those as just being cia stooge/pawns. given their entwined history, many folk there look askance at our efforts with suscpicion. easy to say on paper, difficult to implement.
    history; iran looks at much territory north of it as its 'historical empire' and its right and just to rule and influence it. it mainly lost it to russia in relatively recent centuries past.
    the news is accurate; radical militant elements of iranian govt has/was/is/will continue to support terror groups like chechyans. (they tried and mostly failed when they sent goons into bosnia/kosovo in the 90s, many were sent packing or deepsixed)
    the remainder of your analysis is probably accurate.


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