Saturday, March 25, 2006

Russia, Unmasked

Thanks to the release of the captured Iraqi Intelligence Service documents, we now know that the former superpower and our supposed partner in the war on terror instead has allied itself with our enemies -- namely, the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. The Pentagon confirmed this evening that intelligence gathered during Operation Iraqi Freedom shows clearly that Russia passed vital intelligence to Saddam before and during the war, including our plans for capturing Baghdad:

Russia had a military intelligence unit operating in Iraq up through the 2003 U.S. invasion and fall of Baghdad, a Russian analyst said Friday as the Pentagon reported Moscow fed Saddam Hussein's government with intelligence on the American military.

Iraqi documents released as part of the Pentagon report asserted that the Russians relayed information to Saddam through their ambassador in Baghdad during the opening days of the war in late March and early April 2003, including a crucial time before the ground assault on Baghdad.

Pavel Felgenhauer, a respected independent Moscow-based military analyst, told The Associated Press the report was "quite plausible."

He said a unit affiliated with the Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Department, known by its abbreviation GRU, was actively working in Iraq at the time of the U.S. invasion. The unit apparently was shut down after the fall of Baghdad.

This betrayal carries some consequences, both for the US-Russian relationship and our current negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program. Moscow deliberately gave Saddam information that, in the hands of a competent military leader, would have resulted in the deaths of many American soldiers and Marines. Vladimir Putin has strong ties to the Russian intelligence community, so this can't be dismissed as a rogue operation, especially given the high profile of the Iraqi situation and the involvement of Putin's diplomatic corps.

Putin allied himself with Saddam and against the US, presumably to protect its commercial interests. However, one cannot discount the motivation Putin has for re-establishing Russia as a power base in the post-Soviet world. He has played at restarting the Great Game for the last several years in Southwest Asia, trying to gain the upper hand over the Anglosphere in the oil-producing regions.

And that brings us to Iran. After finding out that Putin has a habit of supplying tyrannical enemies of the Western nations with military intelligence to use against us, the last country we should trust with Iran's nuclear program is Russia. We can also kiss off the UN; as long as Russia has its veto, that route will lead nowhere. Russia has revealed itself to be a major part of the problem in the Middle East, and we should stop pretending that they are part of the solution.

At least now we know why the CIA and John Negroponte wanted these documents to remain sealed.