Speaking today in Baghdad, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta vowed to do “everything that is necessary” to retaliate against Iran for what he called attempts to arm Shi’ite militias in Iraq. His allegations rehashed claims made last week by Admiral Michael Mullen.
As with Mullen, however, Panetta provided no concrete evidence, instead making vague references to the use of Iranian materials in the militias’ weaponry. Panetta also insisted he didn’t “want to get into particulars” about what the US would do.
History suggested the US response will be to continue to make unsubstantiated claims and vague threats. Admiral Mullen claimed the US was also using the allegation to push Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to distance himself from his Iranian allies.
The allegations about Iranian influence have been pretty common throughout the US occupation of Iraq, but don’t appear to make a lot of sense at this point, with the Iraqi coalition government firmly in the control of Shi’ite religious factions and the nation on good terms with Iran. There seems little to gain from destablizing the situation.