As everybody’s favorite Holocaust denier, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, arrives in New York, two recent articles about Iranian activities deserve more attention than they’ve been getting.
This article reports on a convoy captured by NATO forces on September 6 in the western Afghan province of Farah, which borders Iran. The convoy was full of bombs of the kind that Iran has also been supplying to insurgents in Iraq. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. As the Washington Post account notes: “International forces captured two smaller shipments of sophisticated roadside bombs believed to be from Iran in April and May in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, a stronghold of the Taliban insurgency and one of the most violent areas in the country.”
Then there’s this more recent article, which quotes an American military spokesman in Baghdad, Admiral Mark Fox, saying that U.S. troops are finding that Iran is smuggling into Iraq not only explosively formed projectiles (the potent land mines that can punch a hole in any armor in the U.S. arsenal), but also the advanced RPG-29 (much more potent than the RPG-7, or rocket propelled grenade, which is already available to the insurgents), 240 mm. rockets (which have been landing on the Green Zone), and, most ominously of all, man-portable surface-to-air missiles such as the infrared-guided Misagh 1.
The Misagh 1 is said by the CIA to be modeled on the Chinese-made QW-1, which was unveiled in 1994, and which was “claimed to surpass the US Stinger in maximum effective range, target seeker tracking capability, warhead power and other indicators.”
Thus the Iranian action in supplying these weapons to Iraqi insurgents is reminiscent of what the U.S. did in the 1980’s when the Reagan administration decided to escalate our proxy war with the Soviet Union by supplying Stinger missiles to the mujahideen guerrillas in Afghanistan. This was widely seen as a turning point in the conflict, since, to some extent, it negated the Russian advantage in airpower.
Put together, these reports suggest that Iran is now escalating its war against the U.S. and our democratic allies. And the Bush administration approach—of combining loud threats with economic sanctions—isn’t doing much to dissuade the Iranians from their warlike course. But perhaps Columbia University’s students and faculty can convince Ahmadinejad of the error of his ways when he shows up to speak at their campus.