"I think there's some serial numbers, there may be some markings on some of the projectile fragments that we found" that point to Iran, he said.[break]
Gates' remarks left unclear how the U.S. knows the serial numbers are traceable to Iran and whether such weapons would have been sent to Iraq by the Iranian government or by private arms dealers.
Bush has given the U.S. military the authority to kill or capture Iranian government agents working with Shiite militias inside Iraq. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said serial numbers and markings on some explosives used in Iraq indicate that the material came from Iran, but he offered no evidence.[break]
With the aim of shaking Tehran's commitment to its nuclear program, Bush also approved last fall secret operations to target Iranian influence in southern Lebanon, in western Afghanistan, in the Palestinian territories and inside Iran. The new strategy, a senior administration official said, aims to portray Iran as a "terror-producing country, instead of an oil-producing country," with links to al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and death squads in Iraq.
U.S. officials have asserted for years that several dozen al-Qaeda fighters, including Osama bin Laden's son, slipped across the Afghan border into Iran as U.S. troops hunted for the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. U.S. and allied intelligence services, which have monitored the men's presence inside Iran, reported that Tehran was holding them under house arrest as bargaining chips for potential deals with Washington.
Iran's president on Wednesday blamed "the occupiers of Iraq" — inferring the United States and Britain — for two bombings that killed at least nine people in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.
The foreign minister said the bombers were supported by the British military, which is based in southern Iraq. Ahvaz has a history of violence involving members of Iran's Arab minority.
Seeing as how the Democrats will probably bend over lest anyone accuse them of being weak on terrorism, the game is now whether Bush can get this ball rolling full speed before his term of office concludes. Having successfully stabilized Afghanistan and Iraq with no perceivable harm to our armed forces, financial resources or global reputation, Iran should be a cakewalk, if we go in. In fact, I dare say we will be greeted as liberators.
Update 2/11/07 1:24 A.M. - As the New York Times reported last month, the U.S. has been mixing it up for a while now ("Rice Says Bush Authorized Iranians’ Arrest in Iraq").