Cutting through the bullshit.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Just call me 'Googly'

According to Fred Burton in yesterday’s Stratfor Terrorism Intelligence Report, former Iranian Deputy Defence Minister Ali Reza Asghari was not abducted after all. He defected to the US while on a putative business trip to Istanbul. Burton claims that although he was thought to have disappeared as early as December, the Iranians didn’t notify the Turks that he was missing until last month.

The significance of Asghari's disappearance stems entirely from his background. Not only did he serve as Iran's deputy defense minister under former President Mohammed Khatami, but he also is a retired general who was a commander in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the 1980s and 1990s. Therefore, the Iranians clearly have worried that he might be providing Western intelligence agencies with a wealth of information on the capabilities of the Iranian armed forces, and possibly helping to improve their understanding of the relationship between the IRGC (or "Pasdaran," in Farsi) and Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Iraqi Shiite groups such as the Mehdi Army and the Badr Brigade. Given his background, he also would be in a position to shed light on the Pasdaran's clandestine abilities abroad and perhaps identify other Iranian intelligence officers. In other words, Asghari could prove an important (and timely) catch for U.S. intelligence, especially if he had been working with the United States as an "agent in place" for a long period.

It certainly sounds like we can expect great things. The bogus case for an Iranian nuclear weapons program has already been established, the the IAEA and the CIA’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. All we need now is a new ‘Curveball’ to tell the ‘intelligence’ agencies what they want to hear and hey presto, casus belli!

Wikipedia reckons that ‘Curveball’ was a randomly generated codename, but I reckon we ought to call Asghari ‘Googly’ for the sake of consistency. Maybe the time has come for the NY Times to give Judith Miller her old job back? And for Condi to start warming up the overhead projector.

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