November 27, 2006

It seems like only yesterday that Israel owned up to arming Iran

Hell it was only yesterday! Well 20 years ago yesterday. It was on 26th November 1986 that the then Israeli Vice-Premier and Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, owned up to Israel's arms dealing to Iran in what became known as the Iran-Contra Affair. This is from the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs:
In September, when the Israeli government radio accused Iranian troops of training Lebanese Shiite guerrillas for attacks on the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army, and said that Iranians themselves might also have been among those who attacked Israeli positions in Lebanon, the US media reported those charges in great detail. None found the time or space, however, to note how ironic it was for Israel to complain about Iranian military activities.

Iran might have been hard put to continue its costly six-year-old war with Iraq—not to mention simultaneously stirring up followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Lebanon—if Israel had not been willing to sell the Khomeini government great quantities of the weapons Iran desperately needed to keep its army in the field. That is only one of the anomalies of Israel's booming arms trade. US law and US policy also come in for some stretching and twisting.

Over the course of the Gulf war, Iran's quest for weapons has become legendary, with many countries and hordes of private arms dealers eager to conclude arms deals and reap the premium commissions Iran offers. Israel, with standing access to the same models of US-made arms upon which the Shah based Iran's arsenal, and with its desire to build up an indigenous arms industry, has led the pack. The London Observer estimated that Israel's arms sales to Iran total $500 million annually.
The WRMEA is well worth a regular look at. I should try it some time.

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