The Mix

Spooks offer the best Iran scoops

I just learned a lot about U.S. covert ops in Iran, but it feels like I got a briefing from a tricksy Langley man.
Oh, Asia Times. What to do with you? Your stories are so useful, so good. You've got that broad international perspective, historical background, facts I haven't seen anywhere else. But the stench of Langley hovers over it all. You reek of old -- retired? -- CIA guys. It's G-man journalism. That said, where else am I going to find a story like this? It gives a history of all the skirmishing going on, all sewn together. Here's what we learn:

--A former Iranian ambassador and Islamic Republic insider says that the covert ops troops are not Americans.
They "'were originally Iranians and not Americans'" possibly recruited in the United States or through US embassies in Dubai and Ankara."
--A UPI correspondent named Richard Sale goes on record about the USA's involvement with the terrorist group MEK, that has so many folks worried. He says it's true, "[b]ut it is being done on such a small scale - a series of pinpricks - it would seem to have no strategic value at all."
--It looks like someone is funding unrest in some of Iran's provinces: "There has been a marked spike in unrest in Kurdistan, Khuzestan and Balochistan, three of Iran's provinces with a high concentration of ethnic Kurdish, Arab and Balochi minorities respectively."
-- And a fascinating rundown on strange events on Iran's borders that have happened this year: "In early January, a military airplane belonging to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards went down close to the Iraqi border. The plane was carrying 11 of the Guard's top commanders, including General Ahmad Kazemi, the commander of the IRGC's ground forces, and Brigadier-General Nabiollah Shahmoradi, who was deputy commander for intelligence. Although a spokesman blamed bad weather and dilapidated engines for the crash, the private intelligence company Stratfor noted that there are several reasons to suspect foul play, not least of which was that any aircraft carrying so many of Iran's elite military luminaries would undergo 'thorough tests for technical issues before flight.' Later, Iran's defense minister accused Britain and the US of bringing the plane down through 'electronic jamming.' ... And in mid-February, another airplane crashed just inside Iraq after taking off from Azerbaijan and transiting Iranian airspace. The Iranian Mehr news agency reported that the 'passengers on board were possibly of Israeli origin.' It added that US troops have restricted access to the site to Iraqi Kurdish officials and that Western media were reporting the passengers aboard as having been German."

There you have it. Murky as hell, interesting, tainted by way too much intel expertise to be written purely to inform. But an airplane goes down in Iraq after travelling over Iran; Iran speculates that the passengers were Israelis, the Western media reports that they were Germans, US troops restricted access of the crash site to local Kurds ("Sure you have sovereignty; you just can't come anywhere near the plane wreck.") This coming a month after it appears that the US and Britain jammed a plane loaded with some of the top commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
Jan Frel is an AlterNet staff writer.
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