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Iran Works for Peace from Somalia to Afghanistan

10:06 AM, Nov 28, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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I'm confident the Iranian regime will act even more responsibly if it manages to acquire nuclear weapons. From today's New York Times:

A senior American intelligence official said Monday that the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had been training members of the Mahdi Army, the Iraqi Shiite militia led by Moktada al-Sadr.

The official said that 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon. A small number of Hezbollah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training, the official said.

Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. Syrian officials have also cooperated, though there is debate about whether it has the blessing of the senior leaders in Syria….

General Abizaid also said it was hard to pin down some details of relationships between armed factions in the Middle East, adding: "There are clearly links between Hezbollah training people in Iran to operate in Lebanon and also training people in Iran that are Shia splinter groups that could operate against us in Iraq These linkages exist, but it is very, very hard to pin down with precision."

From the November 24 Wall Street Journal:

Tensions in Tehran are intensifying, leading Afghan officials to worry about potential spillover into their country. Iran has developed a pervasive economic and intelligence capacity inside the Central Asia state, which it could potentially turn against American forces. "They have a destructive capability," says Said Jawad, Afghanistan's ambassador to the U.S. target=_blank>From the November 16 New York Times:

More than 700 Islamic militants from Somalia traveled to Lebanon in July to fight alongside Hezbollah in its war against Israel, a United Nations report says. The militia in Lebanon returned the favor by providing training and - through its patrons Iran and Syria - weapons to the Islamic alliance struggling for control of Somalia, it adds….

The report also says Iran sought to trade arms for uranium from Somalia to further its nuclear ambitions, though it does not say whether Iran succeeded….

While the sources of the information remain unclear, the report is dense with details about arms shipments to the groups vying for power in Somalia.

It states that in mid-July, Aden Hashi Farah, a leader of the Somali Islamist alliance, personally selected about 720 combat-hardened fighters to travel to Lebanon and fight alongside Hezbollah.

At least 100 Somalis had returned by early September - with five Hezbollah members - while others stayed on in Lebanon for advanced military training, the report says. It is not clear how many may have been killed, though the report says some were wounded and later treated after their return to Somalia.

The fighters were paid a minimum of $2,000 for their service, the report says, and as much as $30,000 was to be given to the families of those killed, with money donated by "a number of supporting countries."

In addition to training some Somali militants, Hezbollah "arranged for additional support to be given" by Iran and Syria, including weapons, the report found. On July 27, 200 Somali fighters also traveled to Syria to be trained in guerrilla warfare, the report says.

It also indicates that Iran appears to have sought help in its quest for uranium in Dusa Mareb, the hometown of Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of the Islamist alliance in Somalia, which is known as the Council of Islamic Courts.

"At the time of the writing of this report, there were two Iranians in Dusa Mareb engaged on matters linked to the exploration of uranium in exchange for arms" for the Council of Islamic Courts, says the report, which is dated Oct. 16.

Those claims, if proved, could worsen global tensions over Iran's nuclear program. Iran ignored an Aug. 31 deadline to suspend its uranium enrichment, and the United States has been leading a United Nations effort to impose sanctions….

The report recommends that the Security Council blockade Somalia….

The truth is the UN Security Council could put enormous pressure on Syria and Iran to end all the above, but, regrettably, there's little chance they'll do much anytime soon. And so it goes.