23 Dec 2007

More Evidence of US-Iranian Deal

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This AFP story quoting the State department’s David Satterfield and an unidentified official presumably from the CIA provides further support for the theory of a private agreement between the US and Iran, producing a halt to Iranian-sponsored attacks in Iraq by Shiite surrogates in return for the US refraining from escalating pressure against Iran’s nuclear development program.

A senior US diplomat said Iran has reined in Shiite militias in Iraq, causing a sharp drop in roadside bomb attacks in recent months, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The Iranian leadership “at the most senior levels” has moved to restrain the Shiite militias it supports in neighboring Iraq, David Satterfield, Iraq coordinator and senior adviser to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, told the Post.

While the flow of weapons from Iran may not have stopped, the decline in overall attacks “has to be attributed to an Iranian policy decision,” Satterfield said in an interview.

The US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, said that Iran’s decision, “should (Tehran) choose to corroborate (sic) it in a direct fashion,” would be “a good beginning” for a fourth round of talks between US and Iranian officials in Baghdad.

A scheduled mid-December US-Iran meeting on Iraq was postponed, but Crocker said he expects that the two sides will convene “in the next couple of weeks.”

One unnamed US official told the paper the view of the senior American diplomats in Iraq was generally in keeping with the thrust of intelligence analyses on Iraq.

Iran “would definitely like to maintain some degree of influence over the militias” and other players in Iraq, the same official said.

Rather than scaling back its influence in Iraq, Iran has chosen “a creative shift in tactics” as violent militias have sparked resentment among many Iraqis, including Shiites, the official added.

Satterfield also said Iran was not acting out of “altruism” but “alarm at what was being done by the groups they were backing in terms of their own long-term interests.”

The fact that the existence of this agreement, and its terms, are not being made public suggests that those terms would be embarrassing to the current Administration.

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