On October 17, 2010 – Martin Chulov writing in British daily Guardian said that “Iran has brokered behind the scenes deal for pro-Tehran government in Iraq”. According to writer’s ‘confidential information’ – all anti-Israel Shia groups (Hizbullah, Syria and Iran) were behind the new deal between the incumbent Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Islamic resistance militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr.
Ben Obama’s admistration, on the other hand, has declared that it would no longer back Nuri Al-Maliki unless he breaks ties with Moqtada al-Sadr.
The US occupation forces held elections in March 2010 in which Shia groups won most of the seats but neither Nuri al-Maliki nor Western poodle Ayad Allawi won enough seats to form a government without the help of two Islamic groups lead by Ammar al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr which captured 70 seats in the 325-member parliament.
The political horse-trading indicates that new Iraqi government is going to end up like Lebanese government – an unholy marriage between the pro-West secularists and the anti-Israel Islamists.
The West is so paranoid about the Iranian threat against its colonial agenda in the world that it’s okey for every Dick and Harry dictator and fascist thug to visit Washington and have dinner with Ben Obama – but if some world leader, even pro-Israel, visit Tehran – becomes a horrifying news. This the smoking gun which is being played against Nuri al-Miliki, who visited Damascus and Tehran recently. Sami Ramadani wrote in Guardian on October 20, 2010 under the heading “Who calls the shots in Iraq?”.
Those of us with family and friends in Iraq are under no illusions about who calls the shots in that tormented and devastated country. The people we know witness daily the US forces, the contracted mercenaries, the terrifying US drones and jets that daily crisscross Iraqi skies. But, given the tenor of the current debate on Iran’s influence in Iraq, others could be forgiven for thinking that it is Iran which invaded Iraq in 2003, and which now maintains 50,000 occupation forces there.
So, how great is Iran’s influence in Iraq? The reality is that though Iran does have influence there – born of US failure to subdue Iraq – the extent and potency of that influence is nowhere near that which is being claimed.
Iranian influence is highly exaggerated for a number of distinct but convergent reasons. First, the US is still considering a military strike against Iran in order to cripple its economic and military infrastructure. A glance at a political map of the Middle East shows that Iran is the only major power that actively opposes US and Israeli policies in the region. But the map also shows that the US has Iran encircled with formidable firepower, including nuclear missiles aboard the US fleets roaming the seas near Iran. Indeed, the Bush administration was only discouraged from attacking Iran after the mission in Iraq was sucked into the quicksands of resistance.
The truth is that, 31 years after the overthrow of one of its closest allies and the rise of a new political order in Iran, successive US administrations have been at a loss as to how to regain a foothold there. They backed Saddam’s war against Iran in 1980 and are still hoping to use Iraq as a military and political base to destabilise or attack Iran. There are credible reports that Iraq’s long borders with Iran are being used to smuggle in arms and spies. Most Iraqis are opposed to Iran’s manoeuvrings with corrupt Iraqi politicians, but a close examination of Iranian policies reveals that they are guided by an intense fear of being crippled by a US or Israeli attack.
Second, there are other players, Iraqi and regional, who are keen on exaggerating Iran’s influence in Iraq. Saddam loyalists, for example, who insist that Iran is a greater danger to Iraq than American occupation. Or the myriad Iraqi politicians who believe that hostility to Iran is their ticket to gaining US backing. Even the Islamic Supreme Council, a sectarian party led by the Shia cleric Ammar al-Hakim – whose forces were stationed in Iran before 2003 – have been drawn into the realities of US domination and been distancing themselves from the more anti-US Iranians, led by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iraqis are reminded daily that it is the US, not Iran, which is the foremost foreign influence in their country. They also know that, despite promises to the contrary, strategic interests are such that the US will endeavour to maintain its presence in Iraq beyond the deadline of 2011, by trying to secure a pro‑Washington regime in Baghdad.