OpinionIran in the World PressIran continues to meddle

Iran continues to meddle

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Washington Times: A recent report by Gen. Dan McNeill, NATO commander in Afghanistan, details the interception of a shipment of high-tech roadside bombs that clearly originated in Iran. Gen. McNeill stated that the discovery of more than 50 sophisticated roadside bombs and timers in lorries crossing the border from Iran on Sept. 5 proves that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force are actively supporting the Taliban. The Washington Times

James Lyons

A recent report by Gen. Dan McNeill, NATO commander in Afghanistan, details the interception of a shipment of high-tech roadside bombs that clearly originated in Iran. Gen. McNeill stated that the discovery of more than 50 sophisticated roadside bombs and timers in lorries crossing the border from Iran on Sept. 5 proves that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force are actively supporting the Taliban. Subsequently, at the request of U.S. forces, 350 British troops in Iraq have been deployed to the Iranian border to stop the westward flow of similar weapons.

Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie said in a recent interview that Iran has significantly escalated its involvement in Iraq at all levels, including supplying more sophisticated weapons to be used against U.S. forces. Despite the documented charges, Iran has repeatedly denied providing weapons support to insurgents, or to Sunni and Shia militias in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Even so, Mr. al-Rubaie insists that Iran’s top officials, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have approved these shipments.

What is disturbing is that up to this point, the United States has given Iran no reason to change its policy. In fact, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expanded Tehran’s efforts to undercut U.S. objectives. Worse, Iran is actually being supported in these efforts by the World Bank.

What is wrong here? Iran is awash in petrodollars, yet continues to receive buckets of cash from the World Bank. The current World Bank portfolio for Iran consists of six active programs totaling $791 million. Incredibly, part of this stipend is funded by the U.S. Congress — your and my tax dollars at work. In part, the World Bank justifies its actions as a way to reform Iran’s oversized, inefficient and untargeted subsidies system and reach its objectives of “growth and social justice.” How comforting.

Yet Iran can afford to give Bolivia a $1 billion line of credit, and Mr. Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have signed economic and energy agreements totaling roughly $17 billion. Iran also provides funding to Hezbollah and Hamas as well as continuing support of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. How much of Iran’s terrorist funding, one wonders, is subsidized indirectly by the World Bank?

The United States, its allies, and our military have made a tremendous commitment to bring democracy to the Middle East and in particular to Iraq. We have put our forces on the front line. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. One might expect that the Iraqis would appreciate what our military has accomplished, as well as show some gratitude for the hundreds of billions of dollars we have spent to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure.

Indeed, one might even assume that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would be grateful to our forces and the support Iraq has received from the U.S. One might think it, indeed. But one would be wrong. Instead of gratitude, America is getting a slap in the face. According to the Iraqi electricity minister, Iraq has agreed to award $1.1 billion in contracts to Iranian and Chinese companies to build a pair of enormous power plants. To add insult to injury, they would be built in Sadr City, the Shia enclave in Baghdad controlled by the militias of radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

These projects must not go forward. They would give Iran control over a key element in Iraqi reconstruction and provide a commercial vehicle for Tehran’s further infiltration of Iraq at all levels. Worse, it is a betrayal of the blood U.S. forces have shed for Iraqi independence.

How many times do we have to relearn the lessons of history? You can’t appease dictators — or in this case, a corrupt radical fundamentalist regime with an agenda that poses a direct threat to western democracies. The carrot-and-stick approach advocated by members of the European Union and embraced by our State Department will not work. Sanctions will have no impact on getting Iran to change its behavior. Tehran has gotten away with murder — literally and figuratively — for almost 28 years. The only way to get positive results is to cause the regime to collapse. Actions are needed, not words. Indeed, actions are the only way to get Tehran’s attention, because the mullahs know at the end of the day we can do it, and do it quickly.

James Lyons, U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, and deputy chief of naval operations, where he was principal adviser on all Joint Chiefs of Staff matters.

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