Here’s what Juan Cole has to say about all this:
Bush says US troops are authorized to “kill or capture” suspected Iranian intelligence agents operating in Iraq. Thousands of Iranians go in and out of Iraq as pilgrims to the Shiite holy sites, so personally I’m skeptical you can know which ones are spies. And, like, it wouldn’t be good to kill the pilgrims. Might cast the US in a bad light with the Shiites and all that. I’d say this man is looking for a pretext for another war.
Plus, when you look at where US troops are being killed, it is in Sunni Arab al-Anbar Province, and Sunni Arab Salahuddin, Diyal, Mosul, and West Baghdad. Those Sunni guerrillas are not being helped by Iran. They are being helped by Sunnis in countries allied to the US.
And then, the US hold over 10,000 prisoners swept up on suspicion of insurgent activity in Iraq. What number of them is Iranians? Slim to none. More Syrians and Jordanians and Saudis by far than Iranians.
So if 99 percent of the problem is with the Sunni Arabs of Iraq, why all this big talk about Shiite Iran?
Because this man is looking for a pretext for another war.
Bush defends new stance about Iran: Bush says moves against Iranian, Syrian agents in Iraq not meant to expand wars
By Paul Richter
Originally published January 27, 2007
WASHINGTON // President Bush staunchly defended a tough new administration policy on Iran that is drawing criticism at home and anxiety abroad, insisting yesterday that it is only sensible for U.S. troops to move aggressively against Iranians who endanger them in Iraq.
Bush, appearing with military advisers at the White House, said the policy is not meant to spread U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan into Iran, but asserted that U.S. troops have the right to seek out agents from Tehran, which he has accused of supporting Iraqi militants.
“It just makes sense that if somebody is trying to harm our troops or stop us from achieving our goal, or killing innocent civilians in Iraq, that we will stop them,” Bush said.
The administration announced two weeks ago, as part of its new strategy on Iraq, that it would move more aggressively against Iranian and Syrian agents in Iraq. Simultaneously, the White House moved Navy warships and fighter jets into the Persian Gulf in a display of determination to maintain its influence in the region.
Read the rest here.