Iranian Arms Smuggled Into Iraq

From the November 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

A truck filled with high-tech explosives was stopped early August at a checkpoint on Iraq’s border with Iran. The fact that shipments of weapons are being smuggled into Iraq from Iran sparked concern at the Pentagon. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reacted to the news soberly: “It’s a problem for the Iraqi government,” he said. “It’s a problem for the coalition forces. It’s a problem for the international community. And ultimately it’s a problem for Iran” (bbc News, August 9).

Though the Iranian government quickly denied being involved, U.S. officials believe the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is responsible for the smuggling. Of course, the leading mullahs fully support the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which was created by decree from the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.

While acknowledging that it is unclear who exactly acquired and transported the weapons cache into Iraq, Rumsfeld said, “What you do know … is the Iranians did not stop it from coming in” (cnn, August 10). He specifically referred to Iran’s failure to stop weapons smuggling as being “unhelpful.”

There are several points of interest in this revelation.

First, Iran has been stoking the Iraqi insurgency. Now, this may appear contrary to conventional wisdom—since the insurgency is primarily fueled by Sunni Muslims, and Iran is Shiite. But consider what is happening on the ground in Iraq.

Insurgents are making life very difficult for the American-led coalition forces. Their objective is not to win on the battlefield—in that realm they are clearly outmatched. All they have to do is outlast their opponents; they seek merely to make the costs of America’s presence in Iraq outweigh the benefits, and thus expedite America’s inevitable retreat (clearly the U.S. won’t remain in Iraq forever; the insurgents just want to speed up the timetable). In this objective, it appears they are beginning to succeed: Grappling with a rising death count and no let-up in violence in the streets, the U.S. is now talking about pulling out a significant number of its troops sometime next year.

Does Iran benefit from this development? Absolutely.

Tehran wants nothing more than an expanded influence within Iraq. This is perhaps the most important immediate stepping-stone to the mullahs’ goal of regional supremacy. America’s presence in Iraq is an obvious hindrance to achieving that objective. Certainly a U.S. pullout would open Iraq to greater influence by Iran.

Thus, there is a perverse logic in supplying arms to the Sunni insurgency, even though it is making life harder on the fledgling Shiite government. The important function of the insurgency, as far as Iran is concerned, is that it turns the screws on the U.S., forcing Washington to think seriously of shrinking its presence in Iraq. So is it possible, even probable, that the news is true? We at the Trumpet believe it is.

But perhaps even more interesting than the fact that Iran could very well be arming Iraq-based terrorists is the sheer mildness of Washington’s response.

Iran holds enormous influence in Iraq and therefore plays a critical role in the U.S.’s plan to stabilize the nation. Without secure borders, coalition forces will never be able to stem the insurgency and bring security to Iraq.

Evidence of Iran directly supplying terrorists with arms—even armor-piercing shaped charges specifically designed and constructed to target American soldiers—is just the latest in a mountain of proof that Iran is the greatest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

“Unhelpful” is feeble language employed by a “superpower” with no credible intention of forcefully dealing with the brazen threat emerging from Iran.