By Ismail Salami – Tehran
In what seems to be nothing but US-style barefaced arrogance, President Barack Obama has demanded the return of a spy drone which violated the airspace of the Islamic Republic but which was to the humiliation of the US officials downed by the Iranian army.
The top-secret RQ-170 Sentinel drone, which was used by Washington as part of the covert operations the US officials have already vowed to conduct inside Iran, was hunted down by an electronic ambush and landed with a minimal degree of damage over the city of Kashmar about 140 miles inside Iran.
Consciously blind to the realities of Washington’s abysmal policies, the Western media treated the report with a predilection for suspicion and disbelief and used the somewhat innocuous-sounding term ‘reconnaissance drone’. However, when Pentagon later acknowledged the “mysterious loss of a surveillance drone”, they had no choice but to face the truth.
What strikes as bizarrely ridiculous is the fact that Washington has demanded the return of the drone which they have confessed was sent on a secret mission for gathering information.
”We have asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Mr. Obama has said.
Nonetheless, Iran says that it has no intention of returning the drone and that Washington should compensate Tehran for violating the country’s airspace.
Brushing aside the possibility of returning the drone, Chairman of Iran’s Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Tuesday that the White House must face the consequences of violating Iran’s airspace.
Washington’s insistence on having the drone returned springs from some secret concern over the nature of what the Iranians would glean technologically from the spy drone.
Iranian military experts are reportedly in the final stage of extracting information from the drone. The extracted information will be used to sue the United States, an Iranian official says.
When asked at a White House news conference if he was concerned that Iran could weaken US national security by obtaining intelligence from the downed drone, Obama said, “I’m not going to comment on intelligence matters that are classified."
Without directly referring to the spy drone, Obama had earlier repeated the same old threat that ‘all options are on the table in dealing with Iran’, saying, “Today Iran is isolated, and the world is unified in applying the toughest sanctions that Iran has ever experienced. They can break that isolation by acting responsibly and forswearing the development of nuclear weapons . . . or they can continue to operate in a fashion that isolates them from the entire world.”
Obama’s threatening words against Iran evidently reek of the literature of his predecessor George W. Bush. In fact, he is following in the footsteps of Bush and has metaphorically metamorphosed into the belligerent personality of the latter.
It is manifest that Washington has recently ramped up its espionage activities in Iran.
On May 21, 2011, Iran’s Intelligence Ministry arrested an espionage network comprising of 30 individuals who were working for the CIA and another 42 CIA operatives who had links with the network. The CIA-linked network deceived citizens into spying for the agency under the pretext of issuing visas, assisting with US permanent residency, and offering job and study opportunities in American universities.
According to Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, the disbanded network was chiefly focused on targeting the country’s nuclear plants, energy fields, and sensitive oil and gas centers with the main purpose of sabotaging these areas.
Iranian intelligence officials have learned that the CIA agents had gathered information from universities and scientific research centers in the field of aerospace, defense and biotechnology industries.
Also, on November 24, 2011, Iran arrested another 12 CIA agents who were working with Israel’s Mossad and targeted the country’s military and nuclear program. Member of the Iranian Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Parviz Sorouri said that the CIA and Mossad espionage apparatuses were making efforts to damage Iran both from inside and outside and deal a heavy blow with the help of regional intelligence services.
“Fortunately, with the swift reaction of the Iranian intelligence department, their attempts proved abortive,” Sorouri said.
If truth be told, the downing of the spy drone has surely delivered a heavy blow to the intelligence apparatus of the CIA and rustled many feathers in Washington. In an atrociously antagonistic manner, former US Vice President Dick Cheney unleashed his anger on President Barack Obama, saying that he should have doubled down on being caught spying with an overt attack on Iran.
“The right response would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down,” Cheney said.
Confusing Iran with Iraq and Afghanistan, he suggested that this could have been done either with a land invasion to recover the lost drone or by bombing the area until the drone was destroyed.
“The right response to that would have been to go in immediately after it had gone down and destroy it. You can do that from the air. You can do that with a quick airstrike, and in effect make it impossible for them to benefit from having captured that drone. I was told that the president had three options on his desk. He rejected all of them. They all involved sending somebody in to try to recover it, or if you can’t do that, admittedly that would be a difficult operation, you certainly could have gone in and destroyed it on the ground with an airstrike. But he didn’t take any of the options. He asked for them to return it. And they aren’t going to do that.”
The fury of poor Mr. Cheney is quite perceptible and pathetic and the predicament of President Obama is not hard to imagine.
However, it would be better if the US officials confessed to the military prowess of Iran instead of attributing the desperate loss of their drone to their President’s ineptitude.
The downing of the spy drone is a sign that Iran is militarily powerful and efficient. However, the secret mission of the drone, which is purported to have been the collection of secret data on the Iranian nuclear sites, consolidates the idea that Washington is more than ever bent on carrying out secret black operations inside Iran and that it is harboring a malicious plan to orchestrate an attack on the Iranian nuclear sites if not an Armageddon in the region.
– Dr. Ismail Salami is an Iranian author and political analyst. A prolific writer, he has written numerous books and articles on the Middle East. His articles have been translated into a number of languages. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.