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Thursday, March 12, 2015

As Washington freaks out about a letter, US warplanes are helping the Iranian takeover of Iraq

Forces loyal to Iran are threatening to break ISIS’s grip on the key Iraqi city of Tikrit. Officially, the American military isn’t helping these Shiite militias and Iranian advisers as they team up with Iraqi forces to hit the self-proclaimed Islamic State. But U.S. officials admit that American airstrikes are a major reason Iran’s proxies are advancing on Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown.

The U.S.-led air campaign has not only crippled ISIS’s ability to move freely. It’s also providing air cover for Iraqi troops and the Iranian forces fighting alongside of them. It is a perilous, yet unspoken, military alliance between the U.S. and its top regional foe that some said could lead to an ISIS defeat in the short term and ethnic cleansing of Sunni Iraqis in the long run.

“Like it or not, right now [the U.S. and Iran] are on the same side,” said Vali Nasr, dean of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and longtime Iranian expert.

U.S. officials have repeatedly stated their concerns about the sectarianism that could emerge even as the strategy now decisively helps one side, the Shiite, in the push to defeat ISIS.

But two U.S. officials concede that the effect of the airstrikes helps Shiite forces—while swearing that there is no strategy to help Iran. 
Playing the Obama administration for suckers is a critical part of Iranian strategy. Something pretty much boasted about by a kooky Khomeinist named Zafar Bangash, who is the Mullahs' de facto spokesman in Canada, when he talked about how Iraq will soon join the Iranian "resistance front." 

1 comment:

Skippy Stalin said...

It can much more plausibly be argued that the toppling of Saddam Hussein and the creation of democracy in Iraq "helped the Iranian" takeover."

Iraq has always been majority Shiite, which the Sunni royal family, the subsequent military junta, and the Baathists all feared, caused widespread Shiite persecution. Unsurprisingly, Shiite dissidents started trickling into Iran. During the 1980-'88 war, that trickle turned into a flood.

And those were the people were returned to Baghdad to govern from 2003 onward.

The continuing American occupation, which Shiites resented every bit as much as the Sunnis did, didn't help matters. Partly in response to the US, and partly to defend against al-Qaeda, the Shiites started their own paramilitaries, given that - thanks to Paul Bremmer - the Iraq Army and police didn't exist. The training and logistical support for them came from, you guessed it, Iran.

Unfortunately, those paramilitaries became the foundation of the Iraqi military, since Baghdad was determined to continue the marginalization of the Sunnis. Unsurprisingly, this is how ISIS came to be.

Since the West is determined not to put boots on the ground in any meaningful way, who do you suppose will? And since the Shiites are most directly threatened by ISIS, why shouldn't it be them.

But because of so many bad decisions from 2002 onward, that necessarily means Iranian participation.

Of course, you'll never convince most Republicans of that because, hey, why let facts get in the way?