U.S. Unit Works Quietly to Counter Iran's Sway

[Boston Globe] Farah Stockman - For nearly a year, a select group of U.S. officials in the Iran-Syria Policy and Operations Group, or ISOG, has been quietly coordinating actions to counter the looming threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, including increasing the military capabilities of Arab allies such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. The group is also coordinating a host of other actions, which include covert assistance to Iranian dissidents and building international outrage toward Iran by publicizing its role in a 1994 terrorist attack in Argentina. The existence of ISOG reflects an intensification of the Bush administration's planning on Iran. Syria, which has linked itself to Iran through military pacts, is a lesser focus for the group. Officials described ISOG as an interagency clearinghouse for ideas and strategies to roll back the influence of Iran. "Iran is the key to everything at the strategic level - the biggest problem we have faced in a long time," said a senior State Department official involved in ISOG, citing Iran's negative impact on Lebanon, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. "These are all things they are doing because they sense weakness. The best thing for us to project is strength, not 'please talk to us.'"

2007-01-03 01:00:00

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