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Focus On Iraq Helps Iran

Gunmen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr take up positions on May 15, 2004 in the cemetery of the holy city of Najaf, Iraq. Berman said Iran may be funding the Shiite insurgency in Iraq as part of a plan to dominate the entire Middle East region. Iran "sees (themselves) as the historic 'inheritors' of the Persian Gulf," he said.

Washington (UPI) Nov 18, 2005
Iran is the biggest threat to U.S. security and by focusing on Iraq the U.S. has only strengthened Iran's position in the Middle East as Iran works to complete a nuclear weapons program, a foreign policy expert has said.

"We've eliminated (Iran's) two principal adversaries, the Taliban and Saddam Hussein," said Ilan Berman, author of Tehran Rising: Iran's Challenge to the United States. Berman is vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council. He spoke at a panel last week sponsored by the Israel Project, a non-profit organization.

Iran is "the biggest winner in the U.S. war against Iraq," said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., during panel discussions. Sherman is the ranking member of the Committee on International Relations' subcommittee on international terrorism and proliferation.

During the discussion, Jeremy Issacharoff, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Israel to the United States, said Iran is also "basically bankrolling Hezbollah," while developing Iranian weapons of mass destruction.

Berman said Iran may be funding the Shiite insurgency in Iraq as part of a plan to dominate the entire Middle East region. Iran "sees (themselves) as the historic 'inheritors' of the Persian Gulf," he said.

In an interview, Geoffrey Kemp, director of regional strategic programs at the Nixon Center, a non-partisan public policy institution, said the June election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made the Arab world aware of "the dangers posed by Iranian hegemony."

"The risk of Iran's nuclear program has grown" during Ahmadinejad's brief time in office," Kemp said.

Kemp added that Iran is supporting insurgency efforts because Iran "does not want to see chaos in Iraq but doesn't want to see the United States succeed in such a way that they are the next target (of the United States)."

Kemp said Iran "wants to keep (the United States) hurting but not to the point where we pack our bags."

But Michael Lind, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, said in an interview that much of the recent discussion surrounding Iran's nuclear weapons program is "scare tactics" meant to push the United States toward war with Iran.

"Neither Iraq nor Iran were threats to homeland security," Lind said. Iran "only affects U.S. security indirectly," he said.

"The goal of (U.S.) policy has been to ensure that the only countries with WMD's are the U.S. and Israel," he said. "Iran's moves toward building a nuclear program are "actually a threat to our strategy and not to the American people," he said.

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China, North Korea, Iran Pose 'Greatest Danger' To US: Poll
Washington (AFP) Nov 17, 2005
China, North Korea and Iran are seen by American opinion leaders as posing the "greatest danger" to the United States, a survey showed last Thursday.

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