First the latest assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist happened on a slow news day (Romney wins New Hampshire — zzzz), prompting many major American outlets to give it prominent coverage. The LA Times editorial board was not pleased by the killing, which seemed oddly coincident with the clear US-European-Israeli-Saudi campaign to turn the screws on Iran. Columnist David Ignatius, not known for skepticism of official sources, said on the radio that governments (in which category he tacitly included the US) whack people and disavow it all the time.

The Obama administration seemed anxious to distance itself from the killing, and the previous day had compelled the Washington Post to “correct” an article relating that a top intelligence official was eager to see sanctions effect regime change in Tehran. Meanwhile, back-channel efforts to restart nuclear talks with Iran are reportedly underway.

Now Mark Perry has published an exclusive report of US intelligence “memos” that document recruitment of Jundallah fighters by Mossad operatives posing as Americans. (Jundallah is an armed Baluch Islamist group in Iran that mobilizes anger among Sunni Baluch at the Shi‘i state’s ethno-religious repression.)

The connection between all these items, as Jim Lobe suggested before Perry’s piece came out, seems to be a White House realization that the US-Iranian cold war is getting perilously close to a hot one.

Perry is a veteran Middle East and US Middle East policy hand with very good contacts in the uniformed military and assorted spy shops. He is known for reporting that Gen. David Petraeus believes US coziness with Israel to be a strategic liability, and he ought to be much better known for his 2005 Asia Times pieces (later strung into a book) pointing very early on to the enmity between “patriotic” Iraqi insurgents and al-Qaeda sorts (and hence the budding detente between the former insurgents and the US that eventually helped allow the surge to “work.”)

His piece accusing the Mossad of treachery in Baluchistan, of course, bolsters suspicions that Israel was behind the assassinations of the nuclear scientists, perhaps carried out not only against Washington’s better judgment but also in furtherance of a plan to trap the US in a dynamic of escalation with Iran. It contains a lot of pious posturing from military and intelligence officers against “political” killings. (The drone attacks do not count, natch.) And the Jundallah false flag allegation is explosive in and of itself.

There is certainly a fair amount of antipathy among the Pentagon and CIA ranks for their Israeli counterparts. The scientists’ murders may well be Israel’s work. It is nice to have an anti-Iranian coalition large enough that the crimes can be laid plausibly at so many doorsteps.

But none of this finger pointing should distract attention from the purposeful policy of coercion the US has adopted toward Iran over many years. If the Obama administration in fact abhors killings of foreign civilians engaged in research whose alleged nefariousness is still not proven, and one certainly hopes that is true, it would hardly be a ringing endorsement of the overall Bush-Obama approach. If the false flag flies, it is largely because the real flag has been staked so firmly in the ground of hostility.

How to cite this article:

Chris Toensing "Fading False Flags," Middle East Report Online, January 13, 2012.

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