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Iran Acting Neighborly?

11:01 AM, Mar 12, 2009 • By JAMIE FLY
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Today's New York Times reports that Pentagon and NATO planners have explored using Iranian routes from the Arabian Sea to Afghanistan to supply Coalition forces there, thus avoiding routes through Pakistan which have recently come under attack. The article notes that U.S. supplies would not be sent through Iran, but that other NATO members may use the route. NATO's supreme allied commander, Gen. John Craddock, is quoted as telling the Associated Press last month, "NATO should act in a manner that is consistent with their national interest and with their ability to resupply their forces. I think it is purely up to them."

But should it be up to individual NATO members? Using Iran as an overland supply route would be a boost to the regime in Tehran at a time when it is flagrantly violating multiple UN Security Council Resolutions. U.S. (and European) policy in recent years has been to tighten financial restrictions on Iran and the U.S. has tried to discourage European companies from doing business with Iran. Suddenly allowing our allies to ship truckloads of supplies through an Iranian port would only serve to bolster the Iranian economy and give Ahmadinejad a talking point to use during his reelection campaign to rebut the charge that his policies are increasingly isolating Iran from the rest of the world.

There is also a pesky issue which the Times' Thom Shanker and Elisabeth Bumiller conveniently avoid mentioning - Iran's support of lethal aid to the Taliban. Repeating the oft-used argument that Sunnis and Shiites would never work together, they write that "the Shiite government in Iran has long had testy relations with the Sunni Taliban, improving the odds that it could offer transit of supplies to NATO nations." They neglect to mention that despite these supposed "testy relations," the Iranian government has, in recent years, sent a stream of weapons across the border to the Taliban -- weapons that have been used to kill American and coalition forces. This is something that even the Obama administration has admitted. In his annual threat assessment to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 12, Director of National Intelligence Blair stated "We judge Iran distrusts the Taliban and opposes its return to power but uses the provisions of lethal aid as a way to pressure Western forces, gather intelligence, and build ties that could protect Iran's interests if the Taliban retains control of the country."

So if Gen. Craddock has his way (presumably with the blessing of the Obama administration), pretty soon shipments of beer to Germany's contingent in Afghanistan (260,000 gallons shipped in 2007) can share the Iranian roads with "heavy arms, C4 explosives and advanced roadside bombs" on their way to the Taliban.