The Star-Tribune is questioning Rep. Michele Bachmann when she said that Iran was planning to partition Iraq and create a terrorist state. Rep. Bachmann is actually correct, except she’s confusing Iran and al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda did indeed declare their own Islamic State of Iraq. There is also some evidence that the Iranian government has supported Sunni militias in the past and would continue to do so if they thought it would serve their tactical aims.
Bachmann’s statements were imprecise, but the Star-Tribune could have done a small amount of research and figured out what she meant — there is an “Islamic State of Iraq” presently operating in Iraq, and it is quite possible that the Iranians would either support them directly or end up creating a de facto partition of Iraq through their influence of the Shi’ite militias. Bachmann’s statement at most may have confused Iranians with the Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen fi al-Iraq (Mujihadeen Shura Council — the umbrella group for Sunni militants in Iraq).
In terms of a political scandal, this is rather tame stuff, and seems to be more of the same yellow journalism that has ensured that the Star-Tribune is one of the most biased papers in the nation — no small feat.
UPDATE: Looking over this post, my logic is less than clear here. Allow me to clarify.
The Iranians do have an interest in a divided Iraq, and even in helping the Sunnis make that happen. A strong and democratic Iraq would be a nightmare for Tehran. A divided weak Iraq is in their best interest. So, if you’re Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, you would want to see al-Qaeda cause havoc in Iraq, as they would ensure that Iraq never develops into a strong or democratic country.
I believe Rep. Bachmann was substantially correct — yes Iran wants to see Iraq divided, but was confusing that with the Islamic State of Iraq. There is a plan to divide Iraq, there is an Islamic State of Iraq, and Iran is perfectly happy with that even if the Iranians aren’t technically a part of that Islamic State.
Middle Eastern politics is incredibly complex, and it’s easy for even an expert to get confused. What Rep. Bachmann said wasn’t some bizarre conspiracy theory or anything of the kind, but a simple confusion of the issues. There’s no need to jump all over her for it, nor is she crazy for saying what she did. She merely confused Iran with the Mujiahdeen Shura Council. Even so, the Iranian government really does want a divided Iraq, and is certainly exacerbating the violence their for their own ends.