The Iran Cables
November 20, 2019 4:20 PM   Subscribe

In an unprecedented leak from one of the world’s most secretive regimes, an anonymous source provided 700 pages of Iranian intelligence reports to The Intercept, saying they wanted to “let the world know what Iran is doing in my country Iraq.” A detailed account of Iranian intelligence at work in Iraq, fighting ISIS, and more.

01. A SPY COMPLEX REVEALED
Leaked documents expose Tehran’s vast influence in Iraq, detailing years of painstaking work by Iranian agents to co-opt the country’s leaders and infiltrate every aspect of its political life.
02. IRAN’S SHADOW WAR ON ISIS
As the U.S. dropped bombs on Islamic State strongholds, Iranian spies cheered. Meanwhile, Tehran funneled arms to the Kurdish Peshmerga and penetrated the inner circle of ISIS leadership.
03. A SECRET SUMMIT
After Mohamed Morsi was forced from power in Egypt, delegations from the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s Quds Force came together in a Turkish hotel in hopes of cooperating against their common enemy, Saudi Arabia. The talks didn’t go well.
04. THE CHANGING OF THE OVERLORDS
In the rubble left by the U.S. war in Iraq, Iranian leaders saw an opportunity to create a new order — one that would never again threaten them the way that Saddam had.
posted by vibratory manner of working (11 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
A fine reminder of what a colossal fuck up GWB was before anyone recalls the bumbling oaf as "not as bad as Trump."
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:39 PM on November 20, 2019 [15 favorites]


I vacillate between “GWB was an incompetent buffoon” and “GWB perfectly executed the plans of his war profiteering neocon masters”. Destabilization of the Middle East was a feature, not a bug.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 6:47 PM on November 20, 2019 [5 favorites]


I think these documents are a lot more interesting than their relationship to the initial invasion of Iraq, which is ultimately very little.

A couple points from it that I found most striking:

- Iran has ultimately, sectarian goals in mind. They would like to see a Shia-dominant political regime in Iraq. Working towards that goal, however, they've alternately had reason to sometime downplay and sometimes inflame sectarian tensions. See also how they armed and then fought against the Kurds, depending on the political alignment of the day.

- I had not previously appreciated the degree two which America and Iran were dueling for power within post-war Iraq. It makes a lot of sense when I think about it, but it's not something that's been much discussed.

- Ultimately, Iran is hitting the same problems that America did in trying to manage Iraq. It's a useful picture of how certain types of goals are more achievable than others. Preventing the break-up of the country along sectarian lines appears to have been a major policy goal for them, and it's one that found natural allies within Iraq that they could work with. The same for fighting against ISIS. On the other hand, trying to control what type of political alignment occurs within Iraq itself is much more fraught and they're seeing blowback from that, not least of which is the leak of these cables.

- Also fascinating is what these show about internal Iranian politics: the interplay between the two intelligence services, MOIS and the Revolutionary Guard, in particular. The entire third article is based on the fact that MOIS had an informant positioned inside the Revolutionary Guard to keep tabs on what they were up to.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 7:32 PM on November 20, 2019 [12 favorites]


I will never get over our stupidity and willful naivete in Iraq.

I was talking to a friend of mine who had been a brigade intel officer in the local National Guard infantry brigade.

He told me that they didn't even know the difference between Sunni and Shia at the start of their deployment.
posted by atchafalaya at 10:30 PM on November 20, 2019 [6 favorites]


brigade intel officer

Your friend, harsh as it might seem to say, seems like a terrible selection for intel officer.
posted by jaduncan at 12:21 AM on November 21, 2019 [2 favorites]


He told me that they didn't even know the difference between Sunni and Shia at the start of their deployment.

Your friend, harsh as it might seem to say, seems like a terrible selection for intel officer.


In fairness this seems a systemic and institutional failure rather than a staff / individual issue. Even for an intel officer, we cannot assume encyclopedic knowledge of world history / religion / sociology. BUT we CAN expect that higher ups would make it a huge priority to properly brief people so they would be up to speed prior to arriving in country.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:06 AM on November 21, 2019 [8 favorites]


He himself is extremely bright, and ended up doing very well over there. Sometimes the American Army is capable of learning very quickly.

There wasn't much in the premob training about the culture or history, I suppose. I'll ask him.
posted by atchafalaya at 6:13 AM on November 21, 2019


I vacillate between “GWB was an incompetent buffoon” and “GWB perfectly executed the plans of his war profiteering neocon masters”. Destabilization of the Middle East was a feature, not a bug.

Nonsense. The neocons wanted to turn Iraq into another Saudi Arabia, a tame American client state. In what possible world are they benefitting from this chaos? It makes more sense to say that Dick Cheney is an Iranian deep cover agent considering that he spent a trillion dollars of American money to turn Iraq into an Iranian client state.
posted by atrazine at 6:44 AM on November 21, 2019 [6 favorites]


In fairness this seems a systemic and institutional failure

Oh, absolutely. I think I just have Views on how much independent research intel officers should do due to having hung around a few in the Royal Signals once upon a time. I would be equally dubious about an IO turning up in Northern Ireland without understanding at least something about sectarianism. It's a known unknown if you haven't done research.
posted by jaduncan at 7:06 AM on November 21, 2019 [5 favorites]




Iraq Prime Minister Says He Will Resign Amid Protests (NYT)
Many of the parties that dominate Parliament are close to Iran and it is an open secret that Iranian officials helped to set up the current government last year, brokering an agreement that brought in [Prime Minister Adel Abdul] Mahdi, President Barham Salih and the house speaker, Mohammed Al-Halbousi.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:57 PM on November 29, 2019


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