Felicity Arbuthnot: Iran – Upping the Ante

By Felicity Arbuthnot

Can the United States and British governments really be at it again? Can they really expect the public to believe a mirror image of their barrage of lies on Iraq, now applying to Iran? Well, it is all there. Iran is “sponsoring terrorism”. (Was that not Iraq, before the invasion, when there was no known link to terrorism. There is now and the US and UK imported it on the backs of their tanks and with their puppet “government’s” militias.)

Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, was reviving its nuclear industry, could launch WMDs “within forty five minutes”, threatening the West. And Iraq was buying uranium from Niger.

On 10th March, Anne Penketh in The Independent writes than an Iranian General, Ali Rezi Asgari “appears to have defected to the West with vital documents …” The former Iranian Deputy Defence Minister “has documents and maps detailing the relationship between the elite Revolutionary Guards and Islamic groups such as Hizbollah and Islamic Jihad …”; also “Iran’s links” to groups in Iraq including the radical cleric Muqtada al Sadr’s Mehdi Army and the Badr Brigade. Indeed also SCIRI (The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq) all who also came in with the American troops, openly courted by the US Administration. Perhaps they did not notice that many spoke Farsi and not Arabic. (Since even in the Green Zone for one period there was reportedly just one interpreter for one thousand US employees, perhaps they didn’t know the difference. If this was not a prefix for another people’s decimation and ram raid for oil, it would be, well, far-s-ical.) Abdul Aziz al Hakim, who heads SCIRI., was recently addressed by George W. Bush, at a meeting at the White House, as “Your Eminence”.

“We talked about the need to give the government of Iraq more capability, as quickly as possible, so that the elected government of Iraq can do that which the Iraqi people want, which is to secure their country from the extremists and murderers… I told His Eminence … that we want to continue to work with the sovereign government of Iraq (“sovereign”? Debatable) a free country which will serve as an ally in the war against the extremists and radicals and terrorists”, said Bush, arguably debating with one many accuse of being just that.

Iranian officials claim that General Asgaro was kidnapped after checking in to the Ceyhan International Hotel in Istanbul, on February 7th., having arrived there from the Syrian capitol Damascus. Iran points his disappearance to either the US or Israel. His family, still in Iran, say defection was inconceiveable. Who knows? On the one hand, heaven forbid that the two “rogue states”, Iran and Syria were having high level meetings. That might have rattled Israel’s partner state, the US. On the other hand, the Iran Liberation Fund (remember the Iraq one?) might tempt some to tell the US what they want to hear. The Iraq one paid convicted embezzler, Ahmed Chalabi, handsomely for his Alice in Wonderland WMD stories, Ayad Allawi for his input – and remember Khidir Hamza? “Iraq’s bomb maker” who wrote a book to prove his point, which was worthy of the Nobel Prize for Fiction?

Hans Blix, former Head of the Weapons Inspectors in Iraq told Sky News (12th March 2007) that the British government has deliberately embellished the intelligence in order to build a case for war. “… since there weren’t any weapons, we’d have come with that answer: there are no weapons at all the sites that you have given us”, he asserted, concluding that the invasion was “clearly illegal”.

There was also, of course the Washington attempt to prove Iraq was buying weapons grade uranium from Niger. When Joseph Wilson, a former US Ambassador went to Niger to investigate, he found there was no such evidence and revealed all in the New York Times (July 6th 2003.) He also said that George W. Bush had nevertheless used the Niger story in his State of the Union address, to justify the war with Iraq, concluding: “If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand. If the information was ignored because it did not fit certain pre-conceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war on false pretences.”

Further, the boundless US/UK duplicity was disclosed by Imad Khadduri,* a top Iraqi scientist in the former Iraq weapons programme. He told this writer that after the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988) Iraq had determined to survey to see if they were self sufficient in uranium. He headed a team of fifty experts to drill for deposits and they found many. However: “The largest were in the north of the country”. They also found that others had been there before them, rusting, abandoned drilling equipment abounding.

When they asked local villagers about this activity, they replied consistently that the British had been drilling there during their last occupation of Iraq, during the 1950’s. A never asked question, is did the Ministry of Defence think to tell Prime Minister Blair, Q.C.? If so, did he simply keep stum on the fact that there was hardly any need to buy from Niger when there were abundant stocks within their own borders?

Joseph Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was exposed as a CIA agent, seemingly a payback for Wilson’s truthful report on the non-Niger-Iraq uranium deal. On the 6th March, “…former (Vice President Dick) Cheney Chief of Staff, I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby, was convicted by a Federal Grand Jury on multiple counts of perjury and obstruction of justice in relation to the Niger ‘yellow cake’ operation.”

Ironically, on the same day, Professor Fortunat Lumu, Head of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Atomic Energy Commission, was arrested “for allegedly smuggling of uranium 238” out of the Congo to Iran.

However, writes Chossudovsky: “There was no mention of Iran in the official
communiqué. In fact quite the opposite: the government was pointing its finger at an Anglo-South African conglomerate. According to Le Phare (newspaper) the arrest of Fortunat Lumu bears a relationship to the dealings of Brinkley Mining, which had been granted exclusive rights over DRC uranium exploration and extraction.” Further, the DRC “…authorities refer to illegal sales to companies registered in Britain, South Africa and the Seychelles.”

“While the Western media have underscored an alleged ‘Iranian connection’, the undercover network described by the DRC authorities refers to illegal sales to ‘companies registered in Britain, South Africa and the Seychelles’ (emphasis added). Brinkley Mining is registered in the UK with subsidiaries in South Africa and the Seychelles.”

Given these extraordinary parallels between the baseless claims which have
resulted in the destruction of Iraq and entire Iraqi society and remembering yesterday’s lies, it is worth revisiting them.

In Iraq’s ancient city of Mosul, where the Prophet Jonah – who contended with a fair amount of tribulation – is believed buried, on 5th February 2003, the employees of a small cornice-side hotel, were huddled over the television, watching General Colin Powell’s lies of the century – or maybe centuries – to the United Nations. “Will they really bomb us again?” “Do they really believe we have these weapons?” They asked. The answer to the first was “Yes” and to the second “No” – even then. It haunts me still, but in Iraq, you do not lie.

They bought me glasses of sweet minted tea, to thank me for honesty and as destruction loomed we watched the birds in their great colonies, swooping over the water and they headed for home, silhouetted against the apricot sky and the dipping sun.

Powell’s speech was billed: “Denial and Deception”. Indeed. What irony. There was a “sinister nexus”, between Iraq and Al Qaeda, said Powell. Whatever may be said about Saddam Hussein, fundamentalism was an anathema to the regime. Secular was paramount – as the status of women, broadly half the work force at every level.

“Resolution 1441 was not dealing with an innocent party, but a convicted one over the years …” said Powell. “… Iraq has gone out of its way to conceal (weapons.)” Then there is a dodgy tape with Iraqi,’s talking in pure American-speak about concealing weapons with “OK, OK”, “understood” littered about. Straight out of Hollywood baddie A-rab script.

An Iraqi would have said “Nam” (Yes) for starters.

“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources … what we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on scientific example … numerous human sources tell us that Iraqis are moving not just documents, but weapons of mass destruction .. (citing an example) this is about a weapons munition facility .. at a place called Taji ..one of about sixty five such utilities … here you see fifteen munitions bunkers in yellow and red outlines; the red represent active munitions bunkers.”

In the “next example” Powell describes a “ballistic missile facility … five large cargo trucks … house cleaning at near to thirty sites.” This historic drivel re-asserts even the ancient mega-lie that Iraq “forced out the weapons inspectors”, who were, of course, withdrawn by Richard Butler, then heading them, in 1998, who scurried out hours before the illegal Christmas bombing by the US and UK.

Ironically, Powell also refers to the “exquisite detail” of the first UK dodgy dossier to be unleashed on the world. He also states that Iraqi scientists had been made to sign documents stating that they may be punished, by even death, if they divulged anything to the weapons inspectors. Imad Khadduri (whose assertions have proved impeccable) and others, are adamant they were made to sign documents threatening them if they did not disclose anything to the weapons inspectors. Unlike the US and UK, all Iraqis were utterly war weary.

“Ladies and gentlemen, these are not assertions, these are facts, collaborated by many sources”, said Powell.

There is a last parallell between Iraq and Iran (apart from that they both have vast oilfields). In 2000, Saddam Hussein switched out of the $US for oil sales and into the Euro. He sealed his fate. President Ahmadinejad in Iran is planning to open his own oil bourse and do the same and switch his trading currency out of the dollar and “further east”. South America’s oil producing countries, led by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela are making similar plans. The Bush baby’s military adventures have cost over three trillion US dollars. Oh, and the acronym for the planned attack on Iran is TYRANNT In which padded cells are those who think up these found?

It’s about oil and the dollar stupid. Remember the Wall Street Crash. And don’t ever forget yesterday’s lies.

*Iraq’s Nuclear Mirage – Memoirs and Delusions by Imad Khadduri (available Amazon) and http://www.abutamam.blogspot.com

-Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist and activist who has visited the Arab and Muslim world on numerous occasions. She has written and broadcast on Iraq, her coverage of which was nominated for several awards. She was also senior researcher for John Pilger’s award-winning documentary "Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq", and author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of “Baghdad” in the “Great Cities” series, for World Almanac Books (2006.)

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