Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards, or IRG, is using Iran’s Baghdad embassy as its headquarters for secret military operations against coalition forces in Iraq, according to an Iranian opposition group.
Mohammad Mohadessin, spokesman for the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, the parliament-in-exile of the Iranian Resistance, said in a statement that the IRG had transformed the embassy “into the most important center for coordinating its terrorist and intelligence activities against coalition forces.”
IRG officers hold top positions throughout the Iranian government – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for example – so it is not surprising the embassy is under its control. Mohadessin identified four “diplomats” as senior Guards officers, including Ambassador Kazemi Qomi. “They are directly responsible for supervising the transfer of shipments of weapons and ammunition … from Iran to [the Guard's] proxy forces in Iraq,” he said.
Although Tehran denies it, the U.S. has ample proof the Iranians are behind much of the killing of American soldiers in Iraq, from supplying sophisticated bomb-making material for the IEDs that have caused hundreds of casualties in recent months to infiltrating fighters.
Ironically, in his first state visit to Iran in early September, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki asked his host, President Ahmadinejad, for his support in quelling the violence that threatens to destroy Iraq. Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying, ”Iran will give its assistance to establish complete security in Iraq, because Iraq’s security is Iran’s security.” It was not reported whether Ahmadinejad was smiling when he said that, but evidently Maliki needed reassurance. Just a few weeks later, when both leaders were attending the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, they met again at the Blue Mosque in Queens, New York, following Ahmadinejad’s speech at Columbia University.
Last week, the U.S. imposed sweeping new sanctions against the IRG, because of Tehran’s support for terrorism and nuclear weapons ambitions. The ban targeted three of Iran’s largest banks and eight individuals Washington said were engaged in trading missiles and supporting terrorist groups throughout the Middle East. This is the first time the U.S. has put a military force of a sovereign government in the same category as al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards is a select force of some 200,000 members that is separate from the country’s regular military. It has its own ground, naval and air divisions. Guards members in southern Iraq are training Shiite militias to use mortars and rockets, according to U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of U.S. forces south of Baghdad. He noted that rocket attacks were becoming “more accurate and more effective” due to the Iranians.
Mohadessin also said the IRG had taken over some of Iran’s most lucrative companies and is profiting from trade with the European Union. “Over the years the [IRG] has created financial sources which do not fall under the control of the government,” he said. “A major portion of the $40 billion in [non-petroleum] EU trade is now done with [the IRG], its affiliates, and its front companies.”
This would seem to be a good place for Europe to apply pressure and help stop Tehran’s march toward manufacturing nuclear weapons. But that would be expecting too much, even of countries within range of Iran’s ballistic missiles. Christiane Hohmann, spokeswoman for the EU External Relations Commission, said the 27-nation bloc had not yet imposed sanctions on Iran. “There is no economic embargo against Iran in place and no economic sanctions; there are export restrictions in place with regard to dual-use goods,” she said.
Doesn’t the word appeasement mean anything to the Europeans after World War II? Iran is less a theological regime than a military dictatorship, and the IRG dominates political, economic and cultural life, while protecting the ayatollahs and Ahmadinejad from opposition at home. Besides being Iran’s top imam, Supreme Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is commander in chief of the armed forces, and has exploited his control over the IRG to fortify his rule.