Saturday, July 23, 2005

Iraq Today Part II: The Insurgency, and Iran in Iraq

Posted by AmishThrasher at 12:12 pm
Iranian flag
Did we give them control of Iraq?
I noted in Part I of this series that "an alliance of Pro-Iranian Shi'ite parties is the main group in Iraq's transitional government. Al-Jaafari, the transitional Prime Minister, is a member. The Kurds - as I estimated earlier, around 20% of the population, have also done well: they got Talabani as a Prime Minister. But this leaves the 18% of the population who are Sunni but aren't Kurdish unrepresented." As I will discuss in this article, leaving 18% of the population unrepresented does have implications for the Insurgency we are currently facing. But first, given the shift in 'justification' for the war in Iraq from weapons of mass destruction to 'freedom for Iraq', a recent article at suggests that the transitional government, and the Iraq thus far, may have resulted in a more powerful Iran. The article, by Juan Cole, is entitled "The Iraq war is over, and the winner is... Iran." To read it, you need a "Day Pass" to their site (but it's worth it). For those who can't be bothered, I will post a few key excerpts here.

The first alarming development out of having the Shi'ite fundementalist-led transitional government in Iraq is the closer ties it is seeking with Iran:
On Saturday, Jaafari made a ceremonial visit to the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, on which he laid a wreath. In a meeting with Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei on Monday, according to the Tehran Times, Jaafari "called the late Imam Khomeini the key to the victory of the Islamic Revolution, adding, 'We hope to eliminate the dark pages Saddam caused in Iran-Iraq ties and open a new chapter in brotherly ties between the two nations.'" The American right just about had a heart attack at the possibility (later shown false) that newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been among the militants who took U.S. diplomats hostage in 1979. But the hostage takers had been blessed by Khomeini himself, to whom Jaafari was paying compliments.

When Jaafari met the head of the Iranian judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, on Tuesday, the two discussed expanding judicial cooperation between the two countries. Shahrudi said that cooperation with Iran's Draconian "justice system" has had a positive impact on other Muslim countries. He called for Iraq to coordinate with something called the "Islamic Human Rights Organization" -- an Orwellian phrase in dictatorial Iran, a state that tortures political prisoners and engages in other acts of brutality. And he urged the Iraqi government to put greater reliance on "popular forces" (local and national Shiite militias) in establishing security.
The previous week, Defense Minister Saadoun Dulaimi had made a preparatory trip to Tehran, exploring the possibility of military cooperation between the two countries. At one point it even seemed that the two had reached an agreement that Iran would help train Iraqi troops. One can only imagine that Washington went ballistic and applied enormous pressure on Jaafari to back off this plan. The Iraqi government abandoned it, on the grounds that an international agreement had already specified that out-of-country training of Iraqi troops in the region should be done in Jordan. But the Iraqi government did give Tehran assurances that they would not allow Iraqi territory to be used in any attack on Iran -- presumably a reference to the United States.

These is no understating how closer ties between Tehran and Baghdad has been a gift to Shi'ite fundementalist reigime in Iran:
The Iranians hold a powerful hand in the Iraqi poker game. They have geopolitical advantages, are flush with petroleum profits because of the high price of oil, and have much to offer their new Shiite Iraqi partners. Their long alliance with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani gives them Kurdish support as well. Bush's invasion removed the most powerful and dangerous regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein, from power. In its aftermath, the religious Shiites came to power at the ballot box in Iraq, bestowing on Tehran firm allies in Baghdad for the first time since the 1950s. And in a historic irony, Iran's most dangerous enemy of all, the United States, invaded Iran's neighbor with an eye to eventually toppling the Tehran regime -- but succeeded only in defeating itself.
SOURCE: ibid.

This is important to remember, given that the current justification for our involvement in the Iraq War. George W. Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard, in my opinion, lied through their teeth about Weapons of Mass Destruction. When the WMD's failed to show up, the excuse shifted to justifying that the Iraq war was worthwhile because it bought 'freedom' and 'democracy' to Iraq. Well, our idea of 'freedom' and Iran's are two very different things. Bush said it himself when he called Iran one of the world's most dangerous reigimes. While it may be noble to send over 1,700 troops and 25,000 civilians to their deaths in the cause of bringing democracy and freedom to an oppressed people, to waste those same lives to shift the oppression of those oppressed people from Saddam to Iran is a callous waste; one which our so-called leaders should be called on.

One of the worst kept secrets of recent times is that the War in Iraq was never about fighting terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, or bringing Freedom and Democracy to the middle east; it was always about oil, and geopolitical power. By inadvertantly handing power in Iraq over to Iran, Bush's poor planning has lead to a deterioration in the west's geopolitical power in the region:
The ongoing chaos in Iraq has made it impossible for Bush administration hawks to carry out their long-held dream of overthrowing the Iranian regime, or even of forcing it to end its nuclear ambitions. (The Iranian nuclear research program will almost certainly continue, since the Iranians are bright enough to see what happened to the one member of the "axis of evil" that did not have an active nuclear weapons program.) The United States lacks the troops, but perhaps even more critically, it is now dependent on Iran to help it deal with a vicious guerrilla war that it cannot win.
SOURCE: ibid.

The current situation in Iraq is the product of massive incompetance and poor planning, pushed on the Australian public by a pack of liars, and paid for in blood. The weapons of mass destruction was a lie, and if Iran is allowed to reign over Iraq, bringing freedom is a lie. And as the general public wake up to this, there will be a massive backlash against the guilty.

The question, then, is what is Iran's new-found power in Iraq doing to the insurgency? Again, the answer is chilling:
Not surprisingly, the warming relations between Tehran and Baghdad have greatly alarmed Iraq's Sunni Muslims. They know that Iranian offers of help in training Iraqi security officers, and Iranian professions of support for a united, peaceful Iraq are code for the suppression by Shiite troops and militias of the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement. Many Iraqi Sunnis believe that the Sunni Arabs are the true majority, but that millions of illegal Iranian emigrants masquerading as Iraqi Shiites have flooded into the country, skewing vote totals in the recent elections. This belief, for all its irrationality, makes them especially suspicious of Shiite politicians cozying up to the ayatollahs in Tehran. A recent BBC documentary reported that the Sunnis of Fallujah despise Iraqi Shiites even more than they do the Americans, in part because they code them as Persians (in fact they are Arabs).
SOURCE: ibid.

Early this month, and late last month, I ran a series of articles examining some of the reasons behind the current insurgency in Iraq. Well, the reasons discussed in those articles have been augmented by the transitional government in Iraq.

As you will no doubt recall, around the elections there were bold predictions that the insurgency would end after the Iraqi elections; that a democratically elected transitional government would temper support for the insurgency. And this, to a degree, may have been the case in Kurdish and Shi'ite areas: for the reasons outlined, they still don't like the American Coallition, and in some cases may still be willing to attack it, but the democratically elected government does represent them.

In contrast to this is the 18% (or so) of the Iraq population who are Sunni but not Kurdish. The Shi'ite government cutting deals with Iran clearly doesn't represent them, and they dislike the Americans (and the coallition partners) for the reasons I've outlined in that series. And, in spite of protests to the contrary by Bush, Blair and Howard (and let's face it, they wouldn't admit that the situation in Iraq has made the terrorist threat more dangerous, now would they?) this is a dangerous mix of circumstances that have been created in Iraq.

And if the only light at the end of the tunnel is an Iraq controlled by Iran, perhaps it's time we re-assessed our continued support for it.