Friday, February 16, 2007

Quds Force?

In the now infamous Saturday Baghdad briefing, anonymous U.S. military men explained to the press that the Quds Force was responsible for the explosively formed penetrator or EFP attacks on US troops. One briefer went on to argue that the Quds Force reports directly to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and that as a result, "the activities that the IRGC Quds Force are conducting in Iraq, we assess, are coming from the highest levels of the Iranian government.” This accusation was reiterated by White House spokesman Tony Snow who said, "The Quds Force is, in fact, an official arm of the Iranian government and, as such, the government bears responsibility and accountability for its actions."

President Bush also brought up the Quds Force in his recent news conference, but he fell short of accusing the Iranian government:
"What we do know is that the Quds Force was instrumental in providing these deadly IEDs to networks inside of Iraq. We know that. And we also know that the Quds Force is a part of the Iranian government. That's a known. What we don't know is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds Force to do what they did."
So now the U.S. has a new enemy in Iraq, but just who are they? Newsweek has published a fairly extensive report on the Quds Force, demonstrating that the evidence against the group is fairly questionable and that some of the Iraqi politicians the US relies on the most, including President Talabani, have close ties with the Quds Force.

An excerpt:
...while the American military is blaming the Quds Force and IRGC for all sorts of misdeeds, the highest officials in the U.S.-backed Iraqi government appear to be buying weapons from them and asking for their help on security issues.

Yet even if elements of the Quds Force are involved in weapons trafficking, it is unclear if they are being directed by Tehran or if they are freelancing. After the war in Bosnia in the '90s, some former Quds Force members were known to engage in smuggling, apparently without the knowledge of their central command.

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