We recently noted that Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has blamed the US and Israel for the Samarra mosque attack. Now, right on cue, the Iranian armed opposition group Mujadedeen Khalq issues a statement (in the name of its ostensibly civilian wing, the National Council of Resistance) blaming the Iranian regime for the attack! The press release says the group’s “president-elect” Maryam Rajavi “strongly condemned Iranian regime’s meddling in Iraq and described the Samarra bombing, planned attacks on Sunni mosques, killing of religious leaders, political figures, journalists and others as part of a war that the ruling mullahs in Iran have initiated in Iraq against its people.”
Also on cue, paranoid blogger Kurt Nimmo jumps on Rajavi’s statement, saying she was “trotted out” by the “Straussian neocon puppet masters” to cast the blame on Tehran—dismissing the possibility that she was capable of acting of her own volition. In the Nimmonian world, in which all evil emanates from Washington, she could only be “reading from a Straussian neocon script.”
But, hey, this stuff sells on the left. The perennially paranoid Prison Planet touts an interview in which professional ex-spook Ray McGovern says of the Samarra bombing: “The main question is Qui Bono? Who benefits from this kind of thing? You don’t have to be very conspiratorial or even paranoid to suggest that there are a whole bunch of likely suspects out there and not only the Sunnis. You know, the British officers were arrested, dressed up in Arab garb, riding around in a car, so this stuff goes on.”
Qui bono? Does the US have anything to gain from its client state in Iraq collapsing? Seems to us, the Bush administration is scrambling to try to keep the crumbling edifice together. Wasn’t US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad just lecturing the Iraqi leaders on the importance of “non-sectarianism” and warning of the dangers of “warlordism”?
Shamefully, it isn’t just the professional paranoids like Nimmo and Prison Planet that engage in this kind of shameful conspiracy-mongering. Robert Fisk, supposedly a professional journalist, told Australia’s ABC in a March 2 interview: “The real question I ask myself is: who are these people who are trying to provoke the civil war? Now the Americans will say it’s Al Qaeda, it’s the Sunni insurgents. It is the death squads. Many of the death squads work for the Ministry of Interior. Who runs the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad? Who pays the Ministry of the Interior? Who pays the militia men who make up the death squads? We do, the occupation authorities.”
First of all, why must he engage in the self-flagellating use of the pronoun “we” when refering to the “occupation authorities”? Isn’t the whole point of an independent press to decouple reporting from official state perspectives? But, more to the point: surely Fisk (who ABC tells us “shares his Middle East knowledge”) is aware that Iraq’s Interior Ministry is run by people more loyal to Tehran than to Washintgon.
Not that we think Iran did it either, to return to where we started. It seems that few commentators are capable of either admitting their own ignorance (the cardinal rule of good journalism), or, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, accepting the most logical explanation: the attack was carried out by Sunni extremists.