Call It War, Mr. President

By Kenneth R. Timmerman  9/5/2007

Don’t miss HONOR KILLING, Ken’s new thriller on Iran, radical Islam, and the war on terror. For more information, see


 The Islamic Republic of Iran has been waging war against America in Iraq from the very first days of U.S. military operations against Saddam Hussein. And yet, until just recently, no one in the U.S. government has been willing to acknowledge this openly.

Iran began planning operations to undermine an eventual U.S. invasion of Iraq many months before U.S. military forces arrived in the region in late 2002.

 As I will reveal in my upcoming book, Shadow Warriors, one aspect of this forward-looking Iranian planning became apparent as U.S. troops were rolling toward Baghdad.

 Whereas the United States was still relying on a Commando Solo aircraft to beam crude Arabic-language radio programming into Iraq, the Iranians unrolled a whole series of slick, Arabic language television stations that blanketed the entire country with anti-U.S. propaganda.

The effect on Iraqi public opinion was devastating. At one point, Iran had 42 radio and TV stations in Arabic beaming into Iraq, whereas the U.S.-led coalition had just one.

A new report jointly sponsored by the Weekly Standard and the Institute for the Study of War, released last week, provides extraordinary new details of Iran’s propaganda, intelligence, and military offensive against the U.S. presence in Iraq since those early days of the war.

Kimberly Kagan has done yeoman’s work in pulling together information released in dribs and drabs in recent months by U.S. military spokesmen in Iraq.

 Here are just a few of the main points she covers in great detail in this dense 32 page report:

• Iran is using Hezbollah to train Iraqi terrorists, sending top Hezbollah operatives into Iraq periodically to ensure hands-on management of their terror protégés;

• Iran has set up training camps near Tehran where they regularly graduate classes of between 20-70 terrorists, who then return to Iraq as a self-contained network to carry out terrorist operations against U.S. military and Iraqi targets;

• The Revolutionary Guards “Qods Force” is running operations in Iraq through a network of ‘secret cells” within Shia militias, whose agents assassinate key Iraqi leaders, run death squads, infiltrate government ministries, and distribute weaponry to other insurgents.

• Iran is also working with Sunni terrorist groups, include al Qaeda in Iraq and an Ansar al Islam, and has been terrorists from both groups at special camps inside Iran.

This deadly litany of Iranian actions leaves no doubt about the intentions of Iran’s leaders.

They aim to defeat us in Iraq. It’s as simple as that.

They have declared war, and intend to continue waging war until we defeat them, or they defeat us.

Judging by recent statements from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he and his fellow Revolutionary Guards officers have little doubt who is winning.

At a Tehran press conference on Tuesday, the Mighty Midget said that U.S. political influence in Iraq is “collapsing rapidly,” and he kindly offered to take our place.

"Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region,” he said. “Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap, with the help of neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia, and with the help of the Iraqi nation.”

Over the past nine months, U.S. military leaders in Iraq have gradually started to wake up to the enormity of Iran’s offensive operations inside Iraq, and to target Iranian networks.

The first major U.S. counter-strike took place last December, when the U.S. arrested a top Revolutionary Guards officer in Baghdad and started to learn of Iran’s extensive intelligence and terrorist networks in Iraq during bedside chats with the gentle Iranian.

Already then, I noted on this page that “Victory in Iraq cannot come until the United States makes it clear to Iran – even more than Syria, since the Syrians will take their lead from Tehran – that we will no longer tolerate their intervention in Iraqi affairs.”

That remains true today, and our failure to send a tough message to Tehran and utterly smash their networks in Iraq and their support structures in Iran has only encouraged them to step up attacks on U.S. forces.

U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker has acknowledged that since the U.S. agreed to talk with Iran about Iraq, Iranian operations in Iraq have gone “up and not down.” The more we talk, the quicker they shoot.

Since the spring, when Sunni tribal leaders started coming over to the coalition and deserting al Qaeda, we have had significant successes against these Iranian terror networts. But they have received little attention in the press – and for good reason: the State Department has been desperate to hush up Iran’s deadly war against America, in the vain hope they can still negotiate an end of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Kimberly Kagan notes that since March 2007, the U.S. has detained, captured, or killed a significant number of Iranian agents and their proxies in Iraq.

These included:

• Qayis Khazali, an Iraqi promoted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to head their “special groups” inside Iraq. Khazali and his brother, Laith, were captured in March.

• Ali Musa Daqduq, a top Lebanese Hezbollah operative sent by Iran to organize and train secret Iranian cells in Iraq. He was captured by the U.S. on March 20, 2007.

• Abu Yaser al Shibani, the deputy commander of an Iranian network that supplied money, access to the IRGC, and Iranian-made Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP). He was captured on April 20, 2007.

• Azhar Dulaymi, the mastermind of the Jan. 20 raid in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers. He was killed by U.S. Special Forces on May 19, 2007;

Since May, more than a dozen additional “high-value” individuals trained in Iran and used by Iran to run their “secret cells” inside Iraq have been killed or detained.

And yet, despite these successes by the U.S. military, the Iranians keep sending more agents, more explosives, and training new Iraqi terrorists.

Mr. President, it’s time to call this by its name.

We are at war. And it’s not just the abstract War on Terror.

We are at war with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

In Tehran, they know this. And they gloat when we refuse to recognize it and continue to say how eager we are to talk to them.

In his talk with conservative bloggers last week, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol argued that President Bush and the Pentagon need to do a better job of selling the war, especially now that our generals in Iraq believe they are on the way to utterly destroying the insurgency.

But the first step toward “selling” the war is acknowledging the simple fact that we are at war. With Iran.

In his column last Thursday, the Washington Post’s David Ignatius revealed that the State Department and Democrats in Congress conspired in the fall of 2004 to block a secret CIA program to defeat Iranian efforts to influence the Iraqi elections.

It seems that House speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was briefed on the top secret Presidential finding as Minority Leader at the time, was more concerned with defeating President Bush than in defeating Iran.

We should not be surprised by this news.

As last week’s United Press International/Zogby poll showed, the national security glue that used to unite the two parties against foreign threats has been burned away by the Baghdad sun.

Despite all the facts now being reported out of Iraq of U.S. military victories, the poll found that 66% of Democrats believed the Iraq war is “lost,” as compared to just 9% of Republicans.

So now it’s official. Republicans are the Party of Victory, and Democrats the Party of Surrender.

 Mr. President: it’s time to stop pandering to the Party of Surrender, unless it’s your own rendition you are seeking to negotiate.

We are at war, and Americans are not quitters, despite what Nancy Pelosi believes.

So let’s roll.

Kenneth R. Timmerman was nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work on Iran. He is Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, and author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum: 2005).