First it was Iraq, now Iran. We speak with Middle East expert Dilip Hiro as Washington sets its sights on the second member of the so-called axis-of-evil.
Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned Iran yesterday the US will “aggressively put down” any attempt to install a theocratic regime in Iraq.
The warning reflects Washington’s concern that some Shia Muslim clerics in Iraq with political and religious ties to Iran, will help to fill the vacuum left by the fall of Saddam Hussein.
In recent weeks, Washington has taken a more hard-line stance towards Iran, one of the members of the so-called “axis-of-evil.”
The Washington Post reported the Bush administration appears set to call for the destablization of the Iranian government. The Pentagon is urging President Bush to approve public and private actions that could lead to the toppling of the government.
The Pentagon plan may involve the Iraq-based armed opposition movement Mojahedin Khalq, even though it is designated a terrorist group by the State Department.
On Monday, the Iranian opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said that it had evidence of two previously undisclosed uranium enrichment facilities west of Tehran.
This comes as the Bush Administration tries to build international support for the International Atomic Energy Agency to look further into Iran’s nuclear program.
The U.S. also cancelled diplomatic talks with Iran and accused the country of failing to take action against members of the al-Qaeda network. An unnamed Bush administration official told the LA Times that last weekend’s talks in Geneva were scrapped because the US has information linking the attacks in Saudi Arabia to operatives in Iran.
The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, said he believed Iran would cooperate with any request for the extradition of suspected Saudi members of al-Qaeda wanted in connection with the bombings.
Accounts in the Arab press report that Saad bin Laden, the son of al-Qaeda’s founder operates out of Iran. The US also believes the new head of al-Qaeda’s military operations Saif Al-Adel is living in Iran near the Afghan border.
- Dilip Hiro, journalist and author of 24 books including Iraq: In the Eye of the Storm and Neighbors, Not Friends: Iraq and Iran after the Gulf Wars.