Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 31, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

MORE FROM LA REPUBBLICA....I don't really know what to make of this, but this week La Repubblica is running yet another 3-part series about the origins of the Iraq war. Via Nur al-Cubicle, here's an excerpt from Part 1. Note that SISMI is Italian intelligence, and Pollari is Nicol Pollari, the head of SISMI:

The story of Italian military intervention in Iraq begins [in late 2001] when the resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Michael Ledeen, sponsored by Defense Minister Antonio Martin, debarks in Rome with Pentagon men in tow to meet a handful of Iranian exiles. The meeting is organized by SISMI in an agency safe house near Piazza di Spagna (however other sources told us it was a reserved room in the Parco dei Principi Hotel).

Twenty men are gathered around a large table, covered by maps of Iraq, Iran and Syria. Those who count are Lawrence Franklin and Harold Rhode of the Office of Special Plans, Michael Ledeen of the AIE, a SISMI station chief accompanied by his assistant (the first is a balding man between 46 and 48 years of age; the second is younger, around 38, with braces on his teeth), and some mysterious Iranians.

Pollari confirms the meeting to La Repubblica: "When [Antonio Martin] asked me to organize the meeting, I became curious. But it was my job and I wasnt born yesterday. Its true my men were also present at the meeting. I wanted to know what was boiling in the pot. It's also true that there were maps of Iraq and Iran on the table. I can tell you those Iranians were not exactly 'exiles'. The went and came from Tehran with their passports with no difficulty whatsoever as if they were transparent to the Pasdaran [the Iranian Revolutionary Guard]."

....The bogus Italian dossier on the Niger uranium turns up [at the meeting] also and we dont know exactly why because Chalabi is in possession of it.

The gist of the article is that Iran was an active supporter of the war because the Shiite mullahs in Tehran thought that a Shiite-controlled Iraq would make a better neighbor than Saddam Hussein's Sunni-controlled secular dictatorship. That's no big surprise, since Iran and Iraq were not exactly good buddies, but the implication of the Repubblica article is that not only was the Iranian regime cheering from the sidelines, but the U.S. and the Italians were actively seeking their help.

I don't know how seriously to take this. It's obviously plausible, but that doesn't mean it's true. Take it with a grain of salt until we get better confirmation of what was really going on.

Kevin Drum 6:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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