Deo volente.

The Iraq Partition Question – Iran Benefits

Stratfor, via Ace:

In [Stratfor’s] view, the fundamental question was whether the Sunnis would buy into the political process in Iraq. We expected a sign, and we got it in June, when Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed — in our view, through intelligence provided by the Sunni leadership. The same night al-Zarqawi was killed, the Iraqis announced the completion of the Cabinet: As part of a deal that finalized the three security positions (defense, interior and national security), the defense ministry went to a Sunni. The United States followed that move by announcing a drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq, starting with two brigades. All that was needed was a similar signal of buy-in from the Shia — meaning they would place controls on the Shiite militias that were attacking Sunnis. The break point seemed very much to favor a political resolution in Iraq.

This is a good analysis on several levels. It highlights the concrete give and take necessary when disparate peoples live and work together. It shows the US as a moderating, facilitating influence, with our own stake in the game. And it shows, pretty clearly, that we are engaged to win this struggle – we aren’t cutting and running. Pulling troops is a matter of strategic withdrawal in return for political concessions by the parties.

The Shia, instead of reciprocating the Sunni and American gestures, went into a deep internal crisis.Shiite groups in Basra battled over oil fields. They fought in Baghdad. We expected that the mainstream militias under the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) would gain control of the dissidents and then turn to political deal-making.

First off, a word of caution: no road is straight, especially this one. So much for philosophy.

So who, pray, were pushing the regional Shia towards confrontational, non-political resolution? I mean really, who has the most influence with Iraqi Shi’ite clerics? What country is the regional Shia powerhouse?

Instead, the internal Shiite struggle resolved itself in a way we did not expect: Rather than reciprocating with a meaningful political gesture, the Shia intensified their attacks on the Sunnis. The Sunnis, clearly expecting this phase to end, held back — and then cut loose with their own retaliations. The result was, rather than a political settlement, civil war. The break point had broken away from a resolution.

Again, who benefits?

Let me take a step back for a second. In the summer of 2003, my cousin was serving in an aid station 40 miles to the south of Baghdad. After a particularly disturbing attack on an ambulance that made the papers here at home, I wrote him. He said that the attackers were Iranian, and that there was a growing insurgency in the South that was formed, financed, and trained by Iran.

Repeat: Summer, 2003. His “intel” was confirmed by other soldiers who I spoke to who were returning from / to Iraq. They were being briefed that Iran was playing a part in daily operations.

We were at war with Iran beginning then.

Israel, our protectorate, is at war now with Hezbollah. Hezbollah is funded by Iran, and has been an Iranian puppet group from the beginning, both militarily and recently politically as well.

In sum, we are at war with Iran now both in Iraq and via our ally, Israel. It’s just not on the table for discussion at the UN.

And, if my analysis is correct, Iran acknowledges this war and is fighting it by proxy just as surely as if we were all playing a game of sock puppets with Greenwald. The political situation in Iraq is another angle on this continuing fight.

It is certainly not local Shia who benefit from an unstable, non-viable Iraqi government. Given the poll that Geoff cited here, you would have to say that this points to a set of people who want peace and security and a chance to get back on their economic feet (I am inferring from this specific, but would be amazed if this is not supportable with a ton of articles). Put another way, of the Suni and the Kurds have so much to gain, why wouldn’t the Shia with their more prosperous geography?

To be specific, Iran benefits economically, militarily, and politically. First, they get to shoot directly at Americans. This has the effect of reducing support for the war within the West. When you realize that they are the number one state sponsor of terror, this makes sense: they would like to see us withdraw from our directly confrontational strategy of the last 5 years. The price of oil remains high because of wars and rumors of war. They get to throw around nationalist, anti-American cant reminiscent of the student uprisings in 1979. They get to gather the regional Shia under one anti-Western umbrella. This last is important – if Iraqi Shia are more moderate, as I’ve suggested, then Iran needs a bad guy to point to, and the US fits the bill. Where a calm and prosperous Iraq would doubtless seduce most people to a Turkey-like Westernization, a brutal campaign of us-vs.-them keeps everyone on their toes.

And finally, never forget that Iran is on the verge of a civil war, with populist, democratic forces ready to overthrow the Mad Mullahs given half a chance. With a foreign enemy at your door, you just _have_ to keep your forces in fighting trim, just in case, and martial law is a necessity, not a threat.

A stable, economically viable country next door to a democratically-focused populace all ready to throw you out on your ass must look pretty scary to an old-guard theocracy. But a partitioned Iraq would look a lot safer, if only because they would have divided, and could conquer.


August 11, 2006 - Posted by | Battle of Iran, Battle of Iraq, Politics


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