26 January 2007

Changing The ROE For Iran In Iraq?

According to the Washington Post, the U.S. is changing its policy towards Iranian operatives encountered in Iraq from one of catch-and-release to one of capture-or-kill. The DCI recently briefed members of the Senate on Iranian activities in Iraq.
Three officials said that about 150 Iranian intelligence officers, plus members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Command, are believed to be active inside Iraq at any given time. There is no evidence the Iranians have directly attacked U.S. troops in Iraq, intelligence officials said.

But, for three years, the Iranians have operated an embedding program there, offering operational training, intelligence and weaponry to several Shiite militias connected to the Iraqi government, to the insurgency and to the violence against Sunni factions. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the director of the CIA, told the Senate recently that the amount of Iranian-supplied materiel used against U.S. troops in Iraq "has been quite striking."
Iran is currently meddling in Iraq, and more does need to be done than just capturing them, running them through a booking procedure, and then letting them go. At this point, Iran will have been put on notice that any of their people operating in Iraq without proper authorization, either government sanctioned or otherwise, may be treated as combatants if encountered.

One of the concerns, of course, is whether this will have the effect of further ramping up tensions between the U.S. and Iran. There is that possibility and, considering that Iran backs Hezbollah, and Hezbollah has cells within the U.S., there is the potential for an angered Iran to strike at U.S. interests both at home and abroad.

Considering that, though, I don't believe that the potential for Iran to take more aggressive action should stop us from engaging their unauthorized operatives in Iraq. Iran can avoid the problem of having their unauthorized operatives captured or killed in Iraq by removing their unauthorized operatives from Iraq. The ball is in Iran's court, and they can avoid increasing tensions by removing their people who aren't supposed to be in Iraq.

In my opinion, it's a step in the right direction.


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