Pompeo's lies on Iran ties with Al-Qaeda will only sow divisions
First Voice

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Factual inaccuracies and concocted narratives continue unabated as the final few days of the Trump administration approach. The latest bizarre statement came unsurprisingly, from the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He said Al-Qaeda which is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks across the world have established a new base in Shia-majority Iran.

These are warmongering lies as the Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif aptly put it. For Iran, this latest accusation continues a series of tirades against it alongside the imposition of sanctions linked with the rescinding of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. With Trump pursuing a regional policy of encirclement, the Iranian leadership has become defiant, dismissive and emboldened over myopic policies as some observers warn.

Iran has maintained that the United States cannot be trusted on the subject of rapprochement with any chances of resuscitating the nuclear deal under the Biden administration to be subject to its implementation.

This lack of credibility has also resulted in the disillusionment of the Palestinians and the Yemeni population which considers America's narrow-minded approach to be a reason for their plight. Much of what emanates from Washington is considered to mere rhetoric only.

It is also worth noting that the veracity of the claims on Iran's ties with Al-Qaeda have even been contested domestically by the CIA and the U.S. Congress. Pompeo's latest conspiracy theory of Iran will sow further divisions at home as well.

Pompeo's assessment of the location of the ultra-puritanical, demagogic and fundamentalist terrorist organization defies logic and is nothing but Trump engineering.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. /Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. /Reuters

Most terrorism experts and academics unanimously agree that Al-Qaeda is a Sunni fundamentalist, transnational organization with branches and off shoots across the world. It consists of a network of Islamic extremists and Salafi jihadists. Drawing linkages between the terrorist organization and Shia-dominated Iran as a sponsor is theoretically controversial as it is factually.

Furthermore, Al-Qaeda and Iran enjoy historical enmity which would have prompted a nationwide operation against the militants on part of Tehran. Iran has also been historically hostile to the presence of the outfit on Afghan soil and views it as a threat to regional peace and security.

There is no factual evidence cited by Pompeo on the existence of Al-Qaeda on Iranian shores nor can this be construed as a warning over the imminence of the threat to Tehran. The Trump administration has been on an offensive towards Iran from day one and hence, would not be sending warning signs to a country it considers to be an adversary.

Pompeo has gone a step further though. He said that after spending years in the mountains of Afghanistan, the organization is under "the Iranian regime's protection." This is a direct reference to Iran being a state sponsor of terrorism.

Erroneous linkages are being drawn between Iran's alleged ties with Al-Qaeda and the signing of the 2015 nuclear deal. The narrative promoted is that Iran cannot be trusted given that its compliance with the 2015 accord is simultaneous with it cozying up to transnational terrorist organizations.

Ironically however, it is the United States leadership since 2016 which has been castigated internationally and considered untrustworthy by numerous capitals. The scrapping of the deal in 2018 was a key factor which emboldened the hardliners in Iran to act defiantly and close the door for multilateral negotiations directed at sustainable peace in the Middle East.

With the 2001 Authorization of the Use of Military Force legislation allowing the United States to pursue Al-Qaeda anywhere across the world, Pompeo's fallacious claim has the potential to become a damning prelude to such an offensive amid massive domestic upheaval. It seems as if the flying of B-52 bombers in December last year or the assassination of Qasem Soleimani has not prevented the Trump administration from promoting further fallacies and conspiracy theories with stand discredited in letter and spirit.

Scriptwriter: Hamzah Rifaat Hussain

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