Eh, it’s pretty thin and not much of a scoop, really. Does anyone not expect pushback when all the surge troops are finally in place? Our enemies know the election cycle, they know the country has turned against the war, and they know Petraeus is due to report on the progress of the security plan in September. That’s why it’s not a big deal that the Dems relented on the timetable today: after all, there already is a timetable. And naturally jihadists are going to use it to calculate their attacks for maximum political effect.
[A senior U.S. official in Baghdad] said US commanders were bracing for a nationwide, Iranian-orchestrated summer offensive, linking al-Qaida and Sunni insurgents to Tehran’s Shia militia allies, that Iran hoped would trigger a political mutiny in Washington and a US retreat…
US officials now say they have firm evidence that Tehran has switched tack as it senses a chance of victory in Iraq. In a parallel development, they say they also have proof that Iran has reversed its previous policy in Afghanistan and is now supporting and supplying the Taliban’s campaign against US, British and other Nato forces.
Tehran’s strategy to discredit the US surge and foment a decisive congressional revolt against Mr Bush is national in scope and not confined to the Shia south, its traditional sphere of influence, the senior official in Baghdad said. It included stepped-up coordination with Shia militias such as Moqtada al-Sadr’s Jaish al-Mahdi as well as Syrian-backed Sunni Arab groups and al-Qaida in Mesopotamia, he added. Iran was also expanding contacts across the board with paramilitary forces and political groups, including Kurdish parties such as the PUK, a US ally.
Yeah, I don’t know. Seems too convenient and needlessly complicated. AQ and Iran don’t need to conspire to make life difficult for us over the summer; if anything, it’ll just slow them down, as there’s bound to be friction and logistical headaches. They’ll do perfectly well launching their own independent offensives. If the mullahs are keen to set things off they can just unleash the militias, especially in the south where it’ll force a U.S. troop diversion from the north to reinforce the British. That’ll leave AQ and the Sunnis with extra room to run in Baghdad and Diyala. This reads more like an attempt to lay at Iran’s feet anything bad that happens from now on, whether it’s caused by Sunni or Shia fanatics. Not sure why it would be leaked to a notoriously left-wing foreign paper either, unless the source is trying to trade on the Guardian’s progressive bona fides to lend the story extra credibility for American leftist consumption.
On the other hand, Sadr’s new Sunni outreach program is decidedly odd. A grand, Iran-backed bargain to push out the occupier would help make sense of it.