Bush prepares the masses for war


Richard Moore

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US Admits Iranian Arrests Mistake    €


    Bush Threatens to Confront Iran Over Alleged Support for Iraqi Insurgents

    By Ed Pilkington
    The Guardian UK
    Wednesday 29 August 2007

US president accuses Tehran of arming militants. Speech aimed at shoring up 
support for "surge."

George Bush yesterday ramped up the war of words between the US and Iran, 
accusing Tehran of threatening to place the Middle East under the shadow of a 
nuclear holocaust and revealing that he had authorised US military commanders in
Iraq to "confront Tehran's murderous activities."

In a speech designed to shore up US public opinion behind his unpopular strategy
in Iraq, the president reserved his strongest words for the regime of Mahmoud 
Ahmadinejad, which he accused of openly supporting violent forces within Iraq. 
Iran, he said, was responsible for training extremist Shia factions in Iraq, 
supplying them with weapons, including sophisticated roadside bombs. Iran has 
denied all these accusations.

Mr Bush referred specifically to 240mm rockets which he said were made in Iran 
this year and smuggled into Iraq.

"Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region," he said." Iran's active 
pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a 
region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear 

The blunt terms in which Mr Bush portrayed the Iranian threat, and his threat of
military confrontation with Tehran involving US troops based in Iraq, elevated 
the tense standoff between Washington and Tehran to a new level.

The speech also contained the implicit desire on Mr Bush's part for regime 
change, calling for "an Iran whose government is accountable to its people, 
instead of to leaders who promote terror and pursue the technology that could be
used to develop nuclear weapons."

Equally menacing words emanated from Tehran yesterday, where Mr Ahmadinejad said
US influence in the region was collapsing so fast that a power vacuum would soon
be created. "Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap," he said.

Though the Iranian president said he backed the leadership of the Iraqi prime 
minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and welcomed the involvement of Saudi Arabia, his 
offer to occupy the space the Americans might leave behind is unlikely to cool 
emotions in Washington.

He went on to deride the possibility of the US pursuing military action in Iran,
saying it was in no position to do so and claimed that Iran had already acquired
enriched nuclear fuels, though they would only be used for peaceful purposes.

In a further cause of tension, Mr Bush accused the Quds force within Iran's 
revolutionary guards of leading the supply chain to Iraqi extremist groups. As 
the Guardian revealed earlier this month, the Bush administration is preparing 
to declare the 125,000-strong Revolutionary Guard Corps a "global terrorist 
organisation" - a move that would be seen as provocative within Tehran.

According to reports from Baghdad last night, a group of Iranians were detained 
last night in a raid by US troops on a hotel in the city. Of 10 people arrested,
seven were said to be Iranian, including an employee of the Iranian embassy and 
six members of Iran's electricity ministry in Iraq to discuss contracts for 
electric power stations. It was not immediately clear why the men had been 
arrested, or where they had been taken. The US military would only say the 
action was part of an on-going operation.

Mr Bush's bullish talk of his determination to "take the fight to the enemy" in 
the carefully choreographed setting of a veterans' convention in Reno, Nevada, 
was the second of a two-part appeal by him to shore up public support for his 
flagging strategy on Iraq. In the first speech, made last week, he invoked 
Vietnam to argue that quitting Iraq now could put the lives of millions of 
innocent civilians at risk.

Mr Bush yesterday vowed to persevere with his controversial military policy in 
Iraq, insisting that political and security progress was being made, despite a 
rising tide of dissent even from high up within his Republican party.

"Our strategy is this: every day we work to protect the American people. We will
fight them over there so that we don't have to fight them in the United States 
of America," he said.

The twin speeches were intended as preparation for a crucial series of debates 
on Iraq that will dominate Washington for the next few weeks.

In a fortnight the senior general in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and American 
ambassador in Iraq, Ryan Crocker, will give two days of testimony in which they 
are likely to argue that the troop "surge" is having some beneficial impact on 
security levels, though political progress lags behind.

Under the current policy, US troop numbers in Iraq have risen by 30,000 to about

As the climax of these intense hearings, Mr Bush himself will present his latest

Yesterday's speech was the latest clear indication that he will resist any 
attempt to change course in the prosecution of the war.

Mr Bush's latest attempt to reassure the American people that the war is moving 
in the right direction came on another tumultuous day in Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims attending a Shia festival in Kerbala, 68 miles
south-west of Baghdad, were ordered to leave the city after intense fighting 
broke out, reportedly between warring Shia factions. At least 52 people have 
been killed since Monday, mostly police officers engaging in the battle.

    Go to Original
    US Admits Iranian Arrests Mistake
    BBC News
    Wednesday 29 August 2007

The US military has admitted to what it called a "regrettable incident" after it
arrested a group of eight Iranians in Baghdad.

The Iranians were held at a checkpoint and detained overnight. They were freed 
after the Iraqi government intervened.

Iran says the men were in the city at the invitation of Iraq's government, and 
that the US action was unjustified.

An aide to the top US commander in Iraq later said the US accepted that the 
Iranians were on official business.

Dr Saadi Othman, adviser to Gen David Petraeus, told BBC News that the incident 
had "nothing to do" with US President George W Bush's speech on Tuesday, in 
which he strongly criticised Iran for its alleged interference in Iraq.


The Iranians were detained after they had been stopped in the company of seven 
Iraqis carrying unauthorised weapons on Tuesday night, the US military said.

It said an AK-47 assault rifle and two pistols were confiscated from the Iraqis.
The group was then taken to the Sheraton Ishtar Hotel, where US troops searched 
the Iranians' rooms, seizing a computer, mobile phones and a briefcase full of 

The men were also taken away for questioning, with video footage showing 
soldiers leading them out blindfolded and in handcuffs.

    All the Iranians were later handed over to the Iraqi government.

It later emerged that the men were energy experts and were in the Iraqi capital 
to help rebuild the local electricity system. Two of them were found to have 
diplomatic credentials.

    Iran has said it is preparing a formal protest to Iraq.
    "Murderous Activities"

The arrests followed President Bush's speech, in which he criticised Iranian 
interference in Iraq.

Tensions between the US and Iran are running high, with the US accusing Iran of 
providing arms, money and military training to Shia militias in Iraq.

President Bush stated that he had authorised his military commanders in Iraq to 
confront what he called Iran's "murderous activities" in the country.

"Iran's actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. We will confront 
this danger before it is too late," Mr Bush said.

The president also said the entire region would be under the shadow of a 
"nuclear holocaust" if Iran developed nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its 
nuclear programme is peaceful.

Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said US power in Iraq 
was on the verge of collapse and this would lead to "a huge vacuum" which Iran 
would be willing to fill.

In January, five Iranians - who the US said were linked to Iran's Revolutionary 
Guard and were training militants in Iraq - were captured in the northern city 
of Irbil. They remain in US custody.

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