Commentary Magazine


Contentions

I Want Them Back, the Irbil Five

This is problematic:

Five Iranian officials held in Iraq for more than two years by U.S. forces returned home Sunday after the U.S. released them under pressure from the Iraqi government.

American officials said a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement required that they hand the men over, but said they fear the Iranians — held on suspicion of aiding Shiite militants — pose a threat to U.S. troops in Iraq.

[. . .]

The release of the five has been portrayed in Iran as a victory for the Islamic Republic at a time when the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is under domestic and international criticism following the disputed June 12 presidential election and the ensuing government crackdown on protests.

These men, known as the “Irbil Five,” were members of the elite Quds force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Their release was required by the U.S.-Iraq security agreement signed last December, whereby all detainees have to be handed over to the Iraqi government.

When the Irbil Five were captured in 2007, the event signaled a new seriousness about the Bush administration’s decision to crack down on Iranian saboteurs in Iraq. There was a fight between the U.S. military and the State Department about the utility of keeping the men detained. The Pentagon thought they were too dangerous to have at large, while State thought holding them would unnecessarily provoke Tehran into escalating attacks on American troops. Hindsight’s most important lesson here is that the latter view was proven wrong. The way to fight Iranian meddling was to fight it.

Here we are, sending these dangerous saboteurs out into the world at last. There should have been provisions in our security agreement with Iraq that dealt with special cases such as this one. Failing that, the Obama administration should have leaned on the Maliki government in order to prevent the Irbil Five from returning to Iran — especially in light of June 12, which dampened the urgency of engagement with Tehran. Let’s just hope the Pentagon and intelligence community keep an eagle eye on the Irbil Five and the administration doesn’t quibble about blow-back when faced with the inevitable once again.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.