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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Bush baisse d’un ton sur l’Iran

by Michel Muller

Bush Softens His Tone on Iran

Translated Friday 9 March 2007, by John O’Neil

United States: Constrained by hostile public opinion toward his escalation in Iraq, the president is less vicious toward Teheran.

The Quds force, an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, "was instrumental in providing these deadly IEDs (Improvised explosive device) to networks inside of Iraq," affirmed George W. Bush during a press conference on 14 February in Washington. "What we don’t know," he added, "is whether or not the head leaders of Iran ordered the Quds force to do what they did."

What’s worse? That the government knew or didn’t know? Pressed by the journalists, Bush confirmed then: "Whether Ahmadinejad ordered the Quds force to do this, I don’t think we know. But we do know that they (these weapons) are there, and I intend to do something about it. And I’ve asked our commanders to do something about it. And we’re going to protect our troops."

The "style" of these affirmations shows the awkward position Bush is in, constrained to operating in the background vis-a-vis the public opinion’s generalized fear of a war against Iran. He had no intention of "trying to have a pretext for war," he said. In addition, it was learned that in 2003 the Bush administration had spurned an Iranian secret proposal (transmitted by the Swiss embassy in Teheran) for negotiations on the basis of Teheran’s recognizing the State of Israel, ceasing assistance to Hezbollah and Hamas, and opening up Iranian nuclear sites for international inspection.

Confronted with the US Congress’s 16 February vote on a non-binding resolution opposing the sending of supplemental troops to Iraq, Condoleezza Rice and the US administration had prepared a response, in order to redirect public opinion by polarizing it on the fear of the "Iranian threat." On 11 February in Baghdad some unnamed senior US officers - with the most complete anonymity - staged a media event exhibiting some anti-tank rocket and mortar shells transformed into roadside bombs. These officers claimed that these devices are provided to the Iraqi militia on the orders of the "highest levels" of the Iranian government."

The operation fizzled out. It looks too much like the alleged evidence that the government manufactured five years ago to justify the war against Iraq, explained the commentators of the big national US dailies.

Forced to withdraw, Bush remains determined to increase tensions with Teheran: "I will protect my troops", he repeated, by affirming that "when we find the networks that are enabling these weapons to end up in Iraq, we will deal with them."

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