USA kill or capture strategy in Iraq
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In January 2007 the Bush administration authorized the U.S. military to kill or capture Iranian military and intelligence operatives inside Iraq as part of a strategy to weaken Iran's influence in Iraq and compel the government to end its nuclear program.
This new policy replaced the previous "catch and release" policy which had been in place for more than a year, whereby U.S. forces would secretly detain suspected Iranian agents, and hold them for a few days. That policy was intended to intimidate Iranian emissaries without escalating tensions with Iran. U.S. forces would take DNA samples or retina scans from the Iranians, fingerprint and photograph them before letting them go.
Senior administration officials said the new policy is based on the theory that Iran will back down from its nuclear ambitions if the United States hits it hard in Iraq and elsewhere, creating a sense of vulnerability among Iranian leaders. The policy does not extend to Iranian civilians or diplomats. However, on December 21, 2006, the US military detained two Iranian diplomats in Baghdad for alleged weapons smuggling and released them on December 29, 2006.
The head of the Iranian parliament's foreign policy and security commission said he hoped the report is "wrong as such an order is a clear terrorist act and against all internationally acknowledged norms." The Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki blamed United States President George W. Bush for the order, saying in a press conference, "As far as Iraq is concerned, Iran is not a problem but part of solving it. The U.S. should not blame others for the failure of its policies and always look for scapegoats."
Constructive or destructive
There are differences of opinion as to whether the successful toppling of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein was constructive or destructive. In a press conference in 2007 in Iran, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem stated that Iran and Syria's shared borders with Iraq is an undeniable geographical fact, and stressed that the constructive role of these two countries in assisting Iraq to restore security and stability is undeniable. He described those who have come to Iraq from remote continents as intruders of Iraq's domestic affairs, and viewed Bush's new Iraq strategy as wrong.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is defending the U.S.-backed Iraqi government and warns against attempts to undermine it. Trying to weaken the Iraqi government is tantamount to "treason for the Iraqi people and Islamic nation," Ahmadinejad said in a telephone conversation with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in January 2007.
On January 20, 2007, Mohammad Jaafari, a member of the Iran's Supreme National Security Council, declared: "The United States seeks to justify its failure in Iraq and blame the situation on Iran."
On the other hand, in June 2007 U.S. Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell stated there is “overwhelming evidence” that Iran supports terrorists in Iraq and “compelling” evidence that it does the same in Afghanistan.
President Talabani also mentioned that Iran and Syria have begun to help the Iraqi government in a good manner. "we do not want the Iranian-US relations to develop into a conflict in Iraq. On the contrary, we have exerted efforts to bring about a US-Iranian agreement or understanding for a joint action for the security and stability in Iraq." he said in an interview with Al-Hayat in January 2007.
Following two US raids in January 2007 and December 2006 in which Iranians were arrested, one of Iraq's most powerful Shia politicians Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, has condemned the arrest of Iranians by US forces in Iraq as an attack on the country's sovereignty.
In an interview in January 2007, German deputy foreign minister, Gernot Erler said there will be no solution to the Iraqi conflict unless Iran and Syria are also involved in international efforts to restore peace to the war-stricken country. Berlin has repeatedly stressed Iran's important regional role for peace and security in the Mideast.
Officials counseled the president and his advisers to consider a list of potential consequences, including the possibility that the Iranians might seek to retaliate by kidnapping or killing U.S. personnel in Iraq even though they were already seeking to kidnap and kill U.S. personnel.
- Iraq War troop surge of 2007
- Iran's nuclear program
- US attack on Iranian consular office in Arbil
- 2007 Iranian seizure of Royal Navy personnel
- Nacht und Nebel
- Troops Authorized to Kill Iranian Operatives in Iraq, Dafna Linzer, Washington Post, January 26, 2007
- U.S.: Evidence shows Iran subversion in Iraq, NBC News, January 26, 2007
- Bush: U.S. troops may protect selves from Iranians, Steve Holland, Reuters, January 26, 2007
- Military can kill or capture Iranian operatives in Iraq, Dafna Linzer, The Washington Post via Houston Chronicle, January 26, 2007
- President Bush Congratulates General Petraeus on Senate Confirmation, Discusses Way Forward in Iraq, Interview with President George W. Bush, The White House, January 26, 2007
- Increased Troops, Iranian Agents and Iraqi Refugees, To the Point, Public Radio International and KCRW, January 26, 2007
- U.S. order: Kill or capture Iranian agents inside Iraq, Dafna Linzer, The Washington Post via Seattle Times, January 26, 2007
- BBC NEWS | Middle East | US frees detained Iran diplomats
- India eNews - Iran condemns Bush's order as 'terrorist act'
- Fars News Agency :: Iran, Syria's Constructive Role in Iraq Undeniable
- International Intelligence - Analysis - UPI.com
- Dar Al Hayat
- BBC NEWS | Middle East | Top Iraqi condemns US over Iran
- Germany highlights Iran's role in Iraq peace efforts - Irna