December 31, 2005

Goss, Ulfkotte, Erdogan (And A Military Option in Iran?)

Der Spiegel:

Recent reports in the German media suggest that the United States may be preparing its allies for an imminent military strike against facilities that are part of Iran's suspected clandestine nuclear weapons program...

...The most talked about story is a Dec. 23 piece by the German news agency DDP from journalist and intelligence expert Udo Ulfkotte. The story has generated controversy not only because of its material, but also because of the reporter's past. Critics allege that Ulfkotte in his previous reporting got too close to sources at Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND. But Ulfkotte has himself noted that he has been under investigation by the government in the past (indeed, his home and offices have been searched multiple times) for allegations that he published state secrets -- a charge that he claims would underscore rather than undermine the veracity of his work.

According to Ulfkotte's report, "western security sources" claim that during CIA Director Porter Goss' Dec. 12 visit to Ankara, he asked Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to provide support for a possibile 2006 air strike against Iranian nuclear and military facilities. More specifically, Goss is said to have asked Turkey to provide unfettered exchange of intelligence that could help with a mission.

DDP also reported that the governments of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Pakistan have been informed in recent weeks of Washington's military plans. The countries, apparently, were told that air strikes were a "possible option," but they were given no specific timeframe for the operations.

In a report published on Wednesday, the Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel also cited NATO intelligence sources claiming that Washington's western allies had been informed that the United States is currently investigating all possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including military options. Of course, Bush has publicly stated for months that he would not take the possibility of a military strike off the table. What's new here, however, is that Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to prepare its allies for a possible attack rather than merely implying the possibility as it has repeatedly done during the past year.[emphasis added]

I'd take all this with a massive grain of salt, and also point out that some of this leakage may be purposeful (so as to remind people in Teheran a military option does remain on the table, and so try to put a bit more muscle into the Euro-troika's languishing diplomatic efforts on Iranian non-proliferation). Also, Der Spiegel, shall we say, has a tendency to engage in hyperbole when it comes to journalistic narratives about the rampant militarization of U.S. foreign policy and such. So color me pretty skeptical that the U.S. will be pursuing air strikes in Persia in the New Year, or later in Bush's term for that matter. Still, it's an interesting story, and I'd invite other thoughts on its level of verisimilitude in comments.

UPDATE: Nadehzda, in comments, points out that Darling was on this eons ago (blog-time-wise, that is).

Posted by Gregory at December 31, 2005 11:23 PM | TrackBack (1)

Actually, your guest blogger Dan Darling picked up on the Goss visit when it happened -- which was right after Mueller also paid a visit to Ankara. In addition, Turkish Land Forces Commander General Yasar BŁyŁkanit was in the US for talks with US military & Pentagon officials at about the same time. And NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer was arriving in Ankara a couple of days later. With such a flurry of activity, it would be surprising if there weren't speculation flying around.

The Goss and Mueller visits aren't particularly unusual, given that doing something about the PKK must have been a big part of discussions with CIA and FBI. The Turks have been on the US for not doing enough to control activities in northern Iraq. Mueller promised some financial help and more training, IIRC. The Turks' problems with Iran would also have been quite naturally on the two countries' shared agenda.

The Turkish press speculated on Goss having a broader portfolio -- including discussing possible US operations out of Turkey against both Iran and Syria. So it's not just der Spiegel doing the ruminating.

But it's a big jump from a trip to keep ducks in a row with an ally who has overlapping security concerns -- and doing some signalling in the process -- to coordinating planning for air strikes.

Posted by: nadehzda at January 1, 2006 12:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You know, one doesn't have to be a conspiracy theorist to speculate about what the political effect in the US would be if this kind of talk started getting off the ground in mid-summer, maybe escalating in September.

One doesn't have to hate the President to recognize that there are people in the Administration who would think about such things (as there have been in every Administration -- and should be, because public support is an essential ingredient in any successful use of force . . .)

I expect, though, to hear from a number of people just in town on turnip trucks that there is no possibility that domestic politics would be a consideration in the timing of any moves against Iran.

Posted by: CharleyCarp at January 1, 2006 01:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Actually, this is a sign that Bush has adopted a new Iraq strategy, modelled after the fabulously successful strategy employed in disengaging the British Expeditionary Force from its temporary occupation of France in 1940.

Step 1: Attack Iran

Step 2: Run away like hell from the Shiite majority of Iraq that has turned on American forces with a vengeance.

Or maybe this is an attempt at a "do over" in Iraq. The Shiite uprising against US forces would demand a response, the US could dissolve the Iraqi government and declare martial law, and appoint a strongman with experience in suppressing Shiite insurrections to head an interim government. All we need to do is make sure that Saddam's trial is dragged out long enough to prevent his premature execution, and we are all set!


Nadehzda, in comments, points out that Darling was on this eons ago

ah, its always good to know what the Mossad wants us to think is happening in the region... ;)

Posted by: lukasiak at January 1, 2006 04:51 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wonder if the facilities that the article mentions are the ones that the IAEA inspectors have access to, or whether they are others North, South and East of Teheran.

Posted by: dan at January 1, 2006 07:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"ah, its always good to know what the Mossad wants us to think is happening in the region... ;)"

It is well known in certain circles that Darling is a mouth piece for zionist/neocon synergy groups like AIPAC.

Darling, for his part, will deny that there is anything like zionism, AIPAC, neocons, Likud lobbies in Washington, Israeli lobbies in Washington, associations between neocons and Israeli Defense Indutries. If one points to documetation to support the assertion that things are, indeed, real, then Darling hurls the term "antisemite" to silence the exchange.

However, whatever Darling puts into print is exactly what the NRO crowd wants us to believe. To that end, Darling is indespensible. Otherwise, he is largely a poorly educated 22 year old Know-nothing hack and something of a conspiracy nut himself. Also, he is a weasel that generally is not honest about his motivations and positions. All part of his mentor's training in Machievellianism, I guess....

Posted by: Machine Gun at January 2, 2006 02:30 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

please note that the above post was not me posting under a pseudonym! :)

Posted by: lukasiak at January 2, 2006 03:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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