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Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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IRAQ: The elusive Iranian weapons

There was something interesting missing from Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner's introductory remarks to journalists at his regular news briefing in Baghdad on Wednesday: the word "Iran," or any form of it. It was especially striking as Bergner, the U.S. military spokesman here, announced the extraordinary list of weapons and munitions that have been uncovered in recent weeks since fighting erupted between Iraqi and U.S. security forces and Shiite militiamen.

Weapons1_2Among other things, Bergner cited 20,000 "items of ammunition, explosives and weapons" reported by Iraqi forces in the central city of Karbala;  an additional Karbala cache containing 570 explosive devices, nine mortars, four anti-aircraft missiles, and 45 RPGs; and in the southern city of Basra alone, 39 mortar tubes, 1,800 mortars and artillery rounds, 600 rockets, and 387 roadside bombs. Read his remarks here.

Not once did Bergner point the finger at Iran for any of these weapons and munitions, which is a striking change from just a couple of weeks ago when U.S. military officials here and at the Pentagon were saying that caches found in Basra in particular had revealed Iranian-made arms manufactured as recently as this year. They say the majority of rockets being fired at U.S. bases, including Baghdad's Green Zone, are launched by militiamen receiving training, arms and other aid from Iran.

Today brought fresh attacks, including an unusual barrage fired at a military base used by British and U.S. forces in Basra, in southern Iraq. A statement said "several" rockets hit the base during the afternoon, and that initial reports indicated two civilian contractors were killed, and four soldiers and four civilians injured.

It was the first reported attack of its kind since March 27 in Basra.

Iraqi officials also have accused Iran of meddling in violence and had echoed the U.S. accusations of new Iranian-made arms being found in Basra. But neither the United States nor Iraq has displayed any of the alleged arms to the public or press, and lately it is looking less likely they will. U.S. military officials said it was up to the Iraqis to show the items; Iraqi officials lately have backed off the accusations against Iran.

A plan to show some alleged Iranian-supplied explosives to journalists last week in Karbala and then destroy them was canceled after the United States realized none of them was from Iran. A U.S. military spokesman attributed the confusion to a misunderstanding that emerged after an Iraqi Army general in Karbala erroneously reported the items were of Iranian origin.

When U.S. explosives experts went to investigate, they discovered they were not Iranian after all.

Iran, meanwhile, continues to seethe after an Iraqi delegation went to Tehran last week to confront it with the accusations. It has denied the accusations, and it says as long as U.S. forces continue to take part in military action in Iraq's Shiite strongholds, it won't consider holding further talks with Washington on how to stabilize Iraq.

—Tina Susman in Baghdad

Photo: Made in Iran? Not necessarily. Iraqi forces prepare to detonate weapons found earlier this month in Karbala. (Army Sgt. 1st Class Tami Hillis) 

Comments () | Archives (51)

It's amazing how crazy you liberals are. Always willing to believe theocratic Iran over the U.S.

Of course Iran is sending weapons into Iraq. Is Col Martin part of the vast right-wing conspiracy too?

What a pathetic bunch.

Hey everyone, chill. The Israeli's will take care of Iranian biz. You can see them warming up already.

Hey "Billy",

Open your eyes. The Saudi government has, too, established terrorist training camps. It's called their public education system.

Check out "Part 2" here:

And you'll see what I mean.

more lies from the proven "I am the deceiver". we should all be happy that the once warring neighbors iraq (with chemical wmd help from the us) and iran (the country invaded) are reconciled to friendly neighbors. it is the agenda of oilmen in washington and the likes of liberman that want the story turned into "they killing u.s." military occupiers. what? invade another oil rich country over this. what about u.s. sams to the mujahdeen used "to kill russians" - that too was aid and liberation from foreign fighters. what about the porous border where weapons and inSURGEnts cross daily from kuwait - when will that be closed? oil control and theft is the washington agenda. just like the gulf of tonkin lie, try to find the gps location of the first "iranian gunboat" incident plotted on the territorial waters map of the straits of hormuz. be prepared for the next lie.

Over There/Over Here in San Pedro Addresses Military Service and
the Perils of War

Randa Walker, Reggie Willis, Travis Mitchell, Julius Verin, Roberta McMillan, Jimmi James, Fatin Saeed, Ryan Verin and Andrea Ivory comprise the ensemble cast in the West Coast Premiere of Over There/Over Here at Warner Grand Theatre opening May 29.

Over There/Over Here, the play, centers on Marcus Jackson, who enlists in the U.S. Army in order to avoid gang life and drug dealing in his neighborhood of Crown Heights. He finds the same situations he was trying to avoid present in the military. When he returns home broken from his experiences, he must find a way to move his life forward.

San Pedro's Warner Grand Theatre will be the location for the four public performances beginning May 29. The theatre is at 478 West 6th Street, San Pedro, California - 90731.

Over There/Over Here, a comic-drama is written by Michael Reyes, who served as a soldier in the War in Iraq until 2004. His play opened in New York in 2006, and this production by The Relevant Stage Theatre Company will mark its second production and its first presentation on the West Coast. The play is directed by the theatre company's founder, Ray Buffer.

A percentage of the proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The Center for the Intrepid is for traumatic amputee patients, burn patients requiring advanced rehabilitation, and service members undergoing limb salvage techniques. As of March 2007, 562 troops have lost limbs, over 100 of those have lost more than one limb. Unfortunately, these numbers will continue to rise.

Active military personnel in uniform are admitted for free.

General admission tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for college students and senior citizens, and $5 for youth, 18 and under. Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at ( 310 ) 929-8129, and in person at the following San Pedro businesses: fINdings Art Center, Sacred Grounds Coffee House, Williams' Book Store, and The Corner Store.

The play contains some adult language and parental discretion is advised.

Warner Grand Theatre is a lavish, art-deco theater opened to the public on January 20, 1931 during the magical decades for films in the 1920s and 1930s.

Jack Warner called it "The Castle of Your Dreams." Warner Grand Theatre was designed by architect B. Marcus Priteca and interior designer A.T. Heinsbergen. Mr. Priteca designed three lavish art-deco palaces which were located in San Pedro, Beverly Hills, and Huntington Park. The Warner Grand is the last of the three original theaters left intact and has been undergoing gradual refurbishment after a thirty-year decline. Priteca later designed Hollywood's famous Pantages Theater.

Warner Grand Theatre is a facility of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

Press Photos:

An interview between the playwright, Michael Reyes and the Artistic Director of The Relevant Stage, Ray Buffer, is available at


The Relevant Stage | 600 S. Pacific Avenue #220 | San Pedro, CA 90731

Warner Grand Theatre | 478 6th Street | San Pedro, Ca 90731

# # #

Proudly sponsored in part by San Pedro Magazine & Press Telegram | The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs | Warschaw Gallery | AVIDITY Entertainment | Temple Beth El of San Pedro.


Quoting from Project Humanbeingsfirst's press release:

' This premature retraction by US military officers sweating in the battlefield zone ostensibly implies, at least to the forensic mind, that there is, in some likelihood, dissent brewing within the senior US military establishment on the wisdom of continuing on with the Pentagon's neo-con sponsored “full spectrum dominance” adventure that is bankrupting the United States while making it the most violent pariah nation on the planet.

One must however, if one has the geopolitical acumen to understand the diabolical “forces that drive them”, not count on the efficacy of such dissent to avert any of the catastrophic scenarios, including a staged 'Gulf of Tonkin', or a staged nuclear terrorist act within the United States, or an Israeli attack on Iran, or an escalating Israeli war in Lebanon and Syria, all of which can lead to “'defensive' US military action against Iran [and Pakistan]”.

Zahir Ebrahim

PDF of the full press release:

The first lie occurred over a quarter of a century ago when we were told "it'll all trickle down" and "greed is good". The American people have been buying into a truckload of right wing lies ever since, brought to them by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and other nuts. If we want our country to be about Freedom, Justice, Equality and all the things that make us America, we must finally dump the garbage that has brought us here.

Since the White House is, in cowboy parlance, fit-to-be-tied over Iranian involvement in Iraq, Bush and his neocon(artist) advisers have no one to blame but themselves.

By bringing "democracy" (read: exacerbated sectarian divisions) to Iraq, they have succeeded in installing a Shiite government right next door to the strongest Shiite nation (Iran) in the region.

If the Bushies respected knowledge, history and prudent planning, they should have known that, despite the Iran-Iraq war under Saddam Hussein, whom the U.S. enthusiastically supported at the time, the Iranians have a very long history of ties with Iraq. No amount of U.S. occupation is ever going to change that.

The Bushies try to strike fear in the U.S. about the rise of Iranian power, but their ill-conceived policies have only increased that power.

This is just one more example of the monumental incompetence of the present administration, which John McCain will continue.

We had a presentation a couple of weeks ago from a RAND associate. His blurb says he spent 2007 in Iraq studying Iranian involvement among other things. He assured us that there was hard evidence of Iranian munitions.

After the presentation I told him the Bush administration has no credibility; I needed independent verification. He seemed slightly surprised by my remark. I asked why the evidence hadn't been submitted for international verification.

First he said, they'd been shown to international journalists. Journalists are not forensic weapons inpectors, I said. They were examined by an international team of inspectors he said. Were they all members of the coalition. I asked? Well, yes, he said. Why haven't we asked for an independent international team to verify our findings? I asked. I don't know, he conceded.

He seemed earnest. He seemed decent. He wanted us all to take responsibility for the screw-ups in Iraq. And he trusted what his military buddies (he is ex service himself) told him, without questioning the basis of their knowledge, the reliability of their statements, or the transparency of their intentions.

This is the too often ignored cost of the Bush administration. We can no longer afford to trust what our leaders say. The government has squandered its legitimacy, and our country is weaker for it.

The U.S. has no business meddling in the affairs of Iraq or Iran. If Iran wants nukes who is the corrupt U.S. to tell them they can't have them? But for the Israeli lobby that controls the stupid gentiles in Washington, we wouldn't even be there.

Middle East experts have been trying desperately for several years to make it clear that these military claims of systematic Iranian involvement in attacking Americans is a big fat lie. I am prepared to believe that arms come over the border from Iran, but they are likely smuggled or purchased. In any case, the impetus is from the users, not the suppliers. As others point out, munitions come from absolutely everywhere. However we get neocons like Michael O'Halloran of the American Enterprise Institute claiming that "half of U.S. deaths in Iraq are cause by Iranian munitions: He must say it this way, because he can't identify any group that is doing the attacking. The propaganda machine in Washington finally resorted to talking about "special groups" doing the attacking without being able to identify anyone. The clear aim is to gin up an attack on Iran and justify it to the American people by indicting the Iranian leadership. This is a failing enterprise, but no one cares, and no major media outlet reports this. It looks like we won't know about this awful situation as a nation until we are up to our ears in war with Iran with oil at $500 a barrel, our economy in the sewer, and our reputation ruined until the end of time.

That's nothing. I have credible evidence to suggest that the United States invaded Iraq out of the blue for no reason five years ago, and has occupied it against the wishes of its people ever since!

In response to Lauren's question, I agree that those neocons actually planned and executed the Iran-contra ordeal in the 80s. That is exactly what is freightening! These neocons are two-faced SOBs that don't care about the US. They don't care about the LONG-TERM impact of their policies. as long as they, along with our great ally, Israel, get the quick high, they're fine. And please, I hope no one calls me any names or puts one of those bad labels on me, because one thing I am not, is an anti-Semite. I am citing facts about the GOVERNMENT of Israel and its strong lobbying groups that have convinced our government to take actions with no measured short or long-term return for the UNITED STATES of AMERICA! And that has to stop! We are not puppets of any of our other allies. We stand up for ourselves when discussing/negotiating strategies with the UK, France, Germany, Canada and all of our other allies, except for .... you guessed it, Israel. Its like the movie, 'Charlie Wilson's War' (with Tom Hanks), where Charlie Wilson, a congressman from TX said there was only one Jewish family in his district, but the Jewish lobbies gave him 80% of his re-election funds, therefore he had to listen to them and do what they asked. By the way, this movie is a TRUE story. What I am saying is, let's make foreign policy decisions that benefit the US first and most. I'd think that's basically common sense.

If Iran is a threat to US, then we must take action; if not, then there is no need to shed more blood. Iran is also different than Iraq. Those mullahs in Iran bark loudly but they are not crazy enough to committ suicide by attacking Israel. they can be bought, and I mean economic agreements are the 'carrots' that they'd fall for; and the sticks are of course our and Israel's military might. So, lets step back and think twice before supporting those hawkish neocons.

A simple question: If you were Iran and wanted to illegally ship arms to Iraq- knowing that you have been accused of this in number of times before- would you mark them "Made in Iran" in Farsi ?
An interesting point: The manufacturing date on one of the first batches of "Iranian made' weapons put on display followed a MM/DD/YYYY format. This is not the format used in Iran!
Could it be that the intelligence services of some "friendly governments" are involved in this amateurish operation?

Ok, I admit, I didn't read ALL of the posts... just the one from "beenthere".

Let me tell you... I have "been there".

In 1991, I was deployed into northern Iraq as Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal to find and dispose of Iraqi ordnance.

In 2006, I went back to Iraq as a contractor to do the same job; find and dispose of ordnance of ordnance within Iraqi borders.

We found munitions from every country, just as any third world country purchases them. We found Russian, Czech, French, Chinese, you name it.

What I NEVER found was any specifically Iranian ordnance. EVER.

Michael Gass
Formerly of the 39th EOD Squadron Incirlik AB Turkey

Why is this article not being reported by any other news agency?

Could Esfandiar please post the source of his/her Q & A conversation between Al-Shiekhly and Bergner? As it now stands, the presence of five ellipses ['...'] in Al-Shiekhly's question, yet none in Bergner's reply, _strongly_ suggests that Esfandiar has engaged in some rather extensive creative editing to say what was not said and not say what was said. I could not help but notice that the word 'Iran' does not appear, not even once, in Bergner's response.

There is NO weapons or training from Iran.

And Iran NEVER threatened to wipe Israel off the map.

...And if any of you can present HARD EVIDENCE to me to suggest otherwise, please be my guest.

But in the meantime, just accept that we're being conned AGAIN, into another costly war (for alterior corporate reasons)... and don't cheer on the next war or add dangerous speculation to the mix until you have a very good reason! You are playing with our troops lives, not to mention our tax dollars.

Iran will be MUCH worse than Iraq.

"Beenthere" posted:

"I have served in Iraq and I speak farsi... the weapons that we found were marked in farsi- the weapons, the boxes, the paper in the boxes... for gods sake just walk out of the green zone or go see any FOB in the country and they will show you the mortars and all the other weapons."

If what you write is true, "beenthere", then why does the US government not present this evidence to the world?

Answer: Because, my anonymous friend, your evidence does not exist. Period.

I have noticed that many of the Iraqi puppet government soldiers are wearing uniforms and gear that exactly match the uniforms and gear of a nation utterly foreign to Iraq and the Middle East which nation is currently engaged in massive violent militant operations, including aerial and naval bombardment of Iraqi cities, resulting in massive civilian deaths and dislocations and suffering.

Perhaps the American people should investigate HOW this foreign nation came to be killing Iraqis in Iraq? You think?

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