Wednesday, June 16, 2004
A strange little flutter
UPI, the Moonie-owned news service, carried a remarkable story yesterday that was picked up, as best I can tell, by only one newspaper in the country—the Washington Times, the Moonie-owned newspaper that provides an outlet for all sorts of rumors that the Bush administration wishes to propogate. When only the Times carries a story, you should definitely watch out. So here it is, quoted in its entirety.
Iran massing troops on Iraq border Beirut, Lebanon, Jun. 15 (UPI) -- Iran reportedly is readying troops to move into Iraq if U.S. troops pull out, leaving a security vacuum. The Saudi daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat, monitored in Beirut, reports Iran has massed four battalions at the border. Al-Sharq al-Awsat quoted "reliable Iraqi sources" as saying, "Iran moved part of its regular military forces towards the Iraqi border in the southern sector at a time its military intelligence agents were operating inside Iraqi territory."This was promptly followed by the US government's own right-wing outlet, the Voice of America, reporting the Iranian denial.
Iran's state-run news agency IRNA quotes what it calls "an informed source" as denying a report in a Saudi-owned newspaper that says Iranian troops are massing on the border with Iraq. The report in the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat, or "Middle East" newspaper, quotes what it calls "reliable sources" who say four Iranian battalions have moved to the southern border with Iraq. The sources say the troops are preparing to move into Iraq to fill a security vacuum if U.S. forces pull out after the transfer of sovereignty on June 30. But IRNA quotes its source as saying the report is "fabricated and baseless" and is meant to help the United States continue its occupation of Iraq. Iranian officials have previously said the Tehran government supports full sovereignty for Iraq.Now what do you reckon they were up to? What new little scheme is in the works? The idea that four battalions could gather at the Iraqi border without detection by both government and private satellites is laughable. Surely the Washington Times has the means to verify such an important allegation without resorting to "reliable Iraqi sources" in a Saudi newspaper. And surely the VoA doesn't need to depend upon the Iranian state-run news agency as a source for the denial. Haven't we already been treated to enough information from "reliable Iraqi sources" via the CIA, not to mention Judith Miller at the NY Times?