"It's a question of intelligence versus evidence," Labouchere's commander, Brig. James Everard of Britain's 20th Armored Brigade, said last month at his base in the southern region's capital, Basra. "One hears word of mouth, but one has to see it with one's own eyes. These are serious consequences, aren't they?"The British have intercepted a small amount of weapons being smuggled into Iraq by the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq, but David Axe of World Politics Watch explains that this does not indicate that Iran is smuggling massive quantities of weapons into Iraq. I don't want to go into it here, but Axe makes a very convincing argument.
Yesterday, the LA Times revived this issue in a very interesting investigative report.
"During a recent sweep through a stronghold of Sunni insurgents here, a single Iranian machine gun turned up among dozens of arms caches U.S. troops uncovered. British officials have similarly accused Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs, but say they have not found Iranian-made weapons in areas they patrol."As Peter Felstead, editor of Jane's Defense Weekly, explains a lot of rather sophisticated weapons have actually been smuggled in by Syria, not Iran.
The Bush administration is not alone in its accusations that Iran is sending weapons into Iraq. In the interest of balance, I would like to point out a report published by the Jamestown Foundation and written by Mounir Elkhamri, a Middle East Military Analyst for the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth. In this report, Elkhamri provides compelling evidence that Iran is actively contributing to the civil war by arming militias.
I would argue that perhaps both sides have merit; Iranian weapons and other materials are being smuggled into Iraq, but the weapons are not being supplied to the militias currently engaged in the civil war. This would be consistent with reports that Iranian efforts are directed towards building an infrastructure in Iraq that could be activated in the event of a US attack on Iran, and that these weapons and capabilities are not being used in the current conflict.