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Iran: America Goes on the Offensive
   Next Article → COUNTER-TERRORISM: Pakistan Feels the Heat
January 17, 2007: In the last month, Iran has become aware that the U.S. is deliberately hunting down Iranian agents inside Iraq. For most of the last year, Iran believed that it's high ranking contacts in the Iraqi government gave its men immunity. Certainly the Iraqi police would not touch them (the head of the national police, and Interior Ministry, was a pro-Iranian Iraqi Shia). But the Americans simply brush aside any Iraqi troops or police who get in the way, and grab Iranians. This is being done without much publicity at all. It's as if the Americans were just collecting evidence and building a case. A case for what?

January 1 6, 2007: The government claimed it shot down an American UAV, but offered no evidence. The U.S. says it has not lost any UAVs lately. It's no secret that American UAVs regularly monitor the Iranian side of the Iran-Iraq border. 

Russia announced that it had delivered another shipment of Tor-M1 short range anti-aircraft missiles to Iran. These systems have a maximum range of 12 kilometers, and a max altitude of about 20,000 feet. They are used to defend specific targets, like nuclear research facilities and air bases. About a dozen Tor-M1 systems have been delivered so far, with another 17 to come. 

January 15, 2007: The U.S. is sending another Patriot missile battalion to the Persian Gulf. The only thing this battalion could be used for, is stopping Iranian warplanes and missiles. The U.S. confirmed that this was the idea. 

January 14, 2007: Iran admitted that it's nuclear program was behind schedule, and that its centrifuge effort, needed to produce radioactive material for power plants (or bombs) was encountering problems. Even with that, Iran appears to have no real obstacles to having nuclear weapons within five years. At that point, the reasoning goes, the Iranians can bully the Gulf Arabs without fear of American interference. 

January 12, 2007: A British soldier, of Iranian descent, was arrested and charged with spying for Iran. The accused worked in Afghanistan as a translator for the British commander. 

January 11, 2007: After a rather blunt threat from Iran, the UAE ( United Arab Emirates) said it would not cooperate with the U.S. in spying on Iran. The UAE knows that Iran's main targets in the area are Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The smaller states along the west coast of the Persian Gulf have long survived by being nice to the local bullies and being an inconspicuous as possible. The smaller states hope that Iran and Saudi Arabia will fight it out, and, as has been the case for centuries, leave the little guys alone.

Meanwhile, in northern Iraq, American troops raided the Iranian "liaison office" (that was to become a consulate), arrested six people and seized documents and computers. The Kurds protested, but the U.S. apparently had evidence that Iran was running many Iraq operations out of this office. The Iranians protested that diplomatic immunity has been violated. But since Iranians took over the U.S. embassy in 1979, and took American diplomats hostage, the U.S. has considered Iran outlaws when it comes to the sanctity of embassies.

Along the Iraqi border, in south Iran, three explosions were heard. The government said the explosions were not near any oil facilities, and others said it was all about destroying minefields left over from the 1980-88 war.  

January 10, 2007: The UN sanctions imposed last December were considered pretty weak. However, they are having a chilling effect on foreign investment in Iran. That's because, combined with the more vigorous moves by the U.S. against Iranian use of the international banking system, and the threat of more sanctions, or even war, foreign investors are backing away from Iran. In response, the Iranian government is trying to reassure potential investors. But this is difficult when Iranian president Ahmadinejad, and other hard liners, keep spouting off about destruction and making war.

 

Next Article → COUNTER-TERRORISM: Pakistan Feels the Heat