Threatens To 'Deal With' Iran
By Kim Sengupta
15 January 2007
belief that George Bush's troops "surge" policy in Iraq is
also aimed at confronting Iran was strengthened yesterday when the White
House declared that it was "going to deal" with the actions
of the Tehran regime.
In a series of interviews,
Vice-President Dick Cheney, the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice,
and the National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, struck belligerent
notes on Iranian activity inside Iraq. Mr Hadley did not rule out the
possibility of US forces striking across the border.
Discord continued between
America and Iraq over the arrest by US forces of five Iranians in Arbil,
the Kurdish capital. The US claims they are linked to Iran's Revolutionary
Guards and have been funding Iraqi insurgents. The Revolutionary Guards,
said the US military was "known for providing funds, weapons, improvised
explosive device technology and training to extremist groups attempting
to destabilise the government of Iraq and attack coalition forces".
Tehran has protested that
the men have diplomatic status and demanded their immediate release.
The Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, called yesterday for the
Iranians to be freed, stressing that they have been working with Iraqi
government approval. Mr Zebari said: "We fully respect the views,
policies and strategy of the United States, which is the strongest ally
to Iraq, but the Iraqi government has national interests of its own.
We can't change the geographical reality that Iran is our neighbour.
This is a delicate balance and we are treading a very thin line."
In Washington, Mr Cheney
said with typical bluntness: "Iran is fishing in troubled waters
inside Iraq. We do not want them doing what they can to destabilise
the situation inside Iraq." Mr Hadley said: "We are going
to need to deal with what Iran is doing inside Iraq. We know also that
Iran is supplying elements in Iraq that are attacking Iraqis and attacking
our forces. What the President made very clear is these are activities
... that are unacceptable. They put our people at risk. He said very
clearly that we will take action."
Asked whether this meant
American forces would carry out "hot pursuit" operations into
Iran, Mr Hadley responded: "Anytime you have questions about crossing
international borders there are legal issues. We intend to deal with
it by interdicting and disrupting activities in Iraq sponsored by Iran."
During a trip to the Middle
East, Ms Rice repeated Washington's claim of Iranian involvement in
the manufacturing of high-explosive IEDs (improvised explosives devices)
"That's going to be dealt with," she said.
It emerged over the weekend
that Mr Bush had signed an executive order authorising American troops
to carry out wide ranging military operations against Iranian suspects
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