14 February 2007

Maybe they should ask creationists for a new theory...

The Bush administration did not have a good week. Their case for attacking Iran is evaporating. The nuclear build-up clearly was already judged insufficient, possibly because of comparison with the Iraq build-up--even Bush knows the "Fool me, can't get fooled again" line.

A concerted push to paint Iran as an anti-US agressor in Iraq failed--not only was the report questioned on factual information, but even General Pace found the claim problematic, not once, but twice. Even the New York Times is questioning its own zeal in reporting the story.

Speaker Pelosi asserted "No more blank checks for the President" policy. Whether this bark has any bite remains to be seen, but it's been a long time that either chamber stood up to the White House in such clear terms.

And now another rug has been pulled from under the administration. Yesterday, a car bomb blew up a bus that belonged to Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Initial report from the IRNA (official Iranian news agency) put the toll at 18 lives, although later reports from other sources have lowered to figure to 11 dead (and 30+ wounded). IRNA has now also reduced the casualty count. The bomb was stationary, detonated remotely, but there are mixed reports about other circumstances. Some accounts reported two gunmen on motorcycles who opened fire on the bus making it stop next to the rigged car. The Reuters version has four men jumping out of an apparently broken down car, then leaving on motorcycles after the explosion. Four or five men have been picked up in connection with the bombing, although, of course, there is no way to ascertain if these are the same men. IRNA claims that two were arrested immediately after the attack, carrying a camera (!) and grenades.

If I were one of Iranian leaders, I would blame the US for trying to destabilize the country--no evidence is needed for such broad rhetorical statements. Of course, such claims would not have much effect on anyone, other than the zealous Iranian "students" calling for the heads of Americans. On the other hand, Zahedan, which is near the triple point of Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan border, has been stewing for a while. A specific Sunni cell has claimed responsibility here. This has led to some interesting observations, including this lede in the Guadian:
Sunni rebels allegedly linked to al-Qaida were blamed for a deadly car bomb attack which destroyed a bus and killed at least 11 Revolutionary Guards today in the latest outbreak of violence to strike one of Iran's most unstable provinces.
Not exactly a major deviation, but it does have that curious phrase--"linked to al-Qaida". I guess, this rules out any attempt to link Iran with al-Qaeda. It might have been an impossible task even before these reports appeared, but, one would hope, following the revelation, the press should be able to shoot down any such attempt in short order.

Iran and al-Qaeda--a fundamentalist Sunni enterprise--have no love lost for each other. Let's also not forget that Iran offered US help in eradicating the Taliban--an offer that was ill-advisedly rejected in public, although Iranian intelligence likely was used in Afghanistan. Now we learn that this is a two-way street and Taliban-like units on the Afghanistan border are ready to do damage to Iran as well.

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