Ahmadinejad stormtroopers in Iraq

While the MSM and Democrats are too busy gazing at their navels to figure out the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, things are moving very fast in Iraq. The famous "surge" started in December, a month before it was announced in public, and it is having concrete results. A battle has taken place in Baghdad's infamous Haifa Street, which used to be bandit territory. The challenge is to hold that territory.

El Sadr's Mahdi Army is offering a cease fire and negotiations for fear of an American-Iraq Army assault. The challenge is how to tie Muqtada el Sadr's hands by a combination of political/economic incentives and the threat of total destruction if he goes back to the armed option. Al Qaida is said to have retreated from Baghdad tactically, and is reported reported to be fighting in isolation from Sunni and Shiite death squads.  All this is good news; but the challenge is to hold, hold, hold. That is up to the Iraq Army, stiffened by American soldiers and political resolve.

The most significant new development is the arrest in Iraq of the operational director of Ahmadinejad's storm trooper (Al Quds) brigade.

If the MSM were doing its job, this would be big headline news. First, the Al Quds brigade is Ahmadinejad's own unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, which he helped grow in order to conduct terrorist operations abroad, in Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and even Mecca.

They are the SS stormtroopers of the Islamic revolution.

The idea that a top officer of the Quds brigade would be caught with his pants down in Iraq is simply astonishing. It tears the veil from all the Iranian denials of direct involvement in arming and funding Iraqi death squads.

Recent documents also show that the Iranians have been aiding both the Sunni and Shiite sides against the government in Baghdad. The enemy of my enemy is my friend - for now.

Second, it is extremely peculiar that the Al Quds operations director would be personally involved in Iraq. He could easily direct Iranian subversion from a hundred miles away in Iran. This is therefore either a major blunder, or it may be a sign that the Iranians are having problems controlling their Iraqi puppet groups and their "rat lines," supplying IEDs and personnel into Baghdad. 

Alternatively, it may be a sign of barefaced arrogance. The Quds command may have counted on the protection of the Al Maliki government. But the Americans shocked everyone by acting fast on high-value information, arresting the Iranian storm troopers regardless of the political waves it would make. This is very different from our previous compliance with Al Maliki's efforts to protect Shiite militants. The Americans are getting mad.

At this point secular Iraqis want American troops to protect them, and to keep the government honest. It's the question of what will happen after the Americans draw down that has the Iraqis covering their bets.

That is why the non-binding Senate resolution against the "surge" comes at precisely the wrong time, scaring our allies and giving hope to the bad guys. US politicians are in CYA mode, undermining the entire effort in Iraq and Iran.

Meanwhile, back in Tehran, which is one place this war will be decided, Ahmadinejad is finally arousing public opposition from "pragmatic reactionaries" like Rafsanjani and "quietist reactionaries" like Montazeri. The Americans' arrest of Ahmadinejad's good friends of the Al Quds brigade was bound to ring loud alarm bells in Tehran. The pragmatists are worried that Ahmadinejad's militant fist-shaking threats will lead to a further tightening of the economic screws on Iran, and a joint Israeli-American series of strikes against known nuclear sites, possibly along with an embargo and other economic ratcheting of the screws. The United States wore down Saddam's military over ten years of relentless quiet warfare under the UN sanctions.

Tehran must remember that.

The Saudis and Gulf states sound ready to back up Iraq's Sunnis by funding them, and more important, by persuading them that in the short term, Sunni support of American policy in Baghdad is in their best interests. The alternative is a mounting threat of  Shiite imperialism coming from Tehran.

So Tehran's pragmatists are arguing for a more moderate short-term policy. They still want their nukes, but they might be willing to wait a couple of years longer. Ahmadinejad seems to have a private timeline for Armageddon. But Rafsanjani didn't become the richest man in Iran by pursuing personal martyrdom. Because Ahmadinejad is a single-minded fanatic, he will be hard to stop.

So we are in the midst of dubious battle. If the United States remains strong and smart, we can have a good outcome. If we are weak, ambivalent and stupid, or if the Democrats gain power in 2008, we can lose this one. And be faced with an Islamofascist Iran armed with nukes, an Iraq that cannot counterbalance Tehran and might even become its colony, and an Arabian oil supply right across the Gulf that is easily threatened by Khomeinist expansionism.

American firmness of purpose will make all the difference. It's do or die.

James Lewis is the nom de plume of a frequent contributor to American Thinker. He blogs at www.dangeroustimes.wordpress.com 
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