Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Proxy War - Iran says U.S. aids rebels at its borders - Los Angeles Times

Iran says U.S. aids rebels at its borders

The violence may be driving Tehran's efforts to back its own allies in Iraq.

By Borzou Daragahi
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

April 15, 2008

"Analysts say the anti-Iranian groups are tempting assets for the U.S. They say it would be a surprise if the groups were not receiving U.S. funding, but that the strategy would probably not work.

"It will give more encouragement to Iran's hard-liners to step up their own efforts to assist anti-American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst now at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Among the most active groups is the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, known by its Kurdish acronym, PEJAK. It has hundreds of well-trained fighters along with camps in northern Iraq.

Iranian soldiers guarding the border are sometimes ambushed by PEJAK fighters. Iran responds with artillery attacks that send Iraqi villagers scurrying for cover. Border skirmishes last summer and fall between Iranian security forces and PEJAK left dozens dead on both sides.

PEJAK emerged this decade as an Iranian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, an armed group formed to fight a separatist war against the Turkish government.

Former members say PEJAK was meant to circumvent Western restrictions on contacts with the PKK, which has been labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and the European Union."

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