Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Quagmire: US is Iran's Air Force in Sunni-Shia War

Iran Is No Partner in ISIS Fight - Ali Alfoneh & Michael Pregent

The threat of the Islamic State not only makes the Iraqi Shia more dependent on Tehran and legitimizes Iran's military presence in Iraq, it also provides the regime in Tehran with another bargaining chip in nuclear negotiations with the P5+1. After the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, the civil war in Iraq, followed by the rise of Islamic State, forced moderate Iraqi Shia, who otherwise would have pursued a line independent of Iran, to become dependencies of Tehran.     
The small contingent of U.S. advisers in Iraq is relying on a heavily Iranian-influenced Iraqi sectarian intelligence and security apparatus. The Iraqi security forces are predominantly Shia and, in addition, Shia militias and "advisers" from the IRGC Quds Force are now fighting as legitimate Iraqi forces.

This creates an environment in which targeting operations developed by Iranian forces and the militias have primacy over those developed by the U.S., leading to the possibility that Washington could be portrayed by Islamic State as complicit in the indiscriminate targeting of Sunnis. Such operations will be perceived the same way by the very Sunnis we need to fight Islamic State.
Ali Alfoneh is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Michael Pregent is a former intelligence officer and military adviser and now adjunct at National Defense University.
(Long War Journal)

Iran Occupies Iraq - Editorial

In the battle over Tikrit, the dominant forces are Shiite militias supplied and coordinated from Iran. Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, is supervising the attack against Islamic State. U.S. air strikes have been crucial to pinning down Islamic State forces, but Iran is benefitting on the ground.

Iran is essentially building an arc of dominance from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut. The result is that an enemy of the U.S. with American blood on its hands is taking a giant step toward becoming the dominant power in the Middle East.
(Wall Street Journal)


Resisting the Iranian Occupation - Hanin Ghaddar

The perception of the U.S. in the region is changing. The majority of Sunnis now see the U.S. as taking sides in a sectarian fight, as an Iranian ally. Democracies like Lebanon, or potential democracies in the region, will slowly deteriorate because Iran will not acknowledge state institutions or tolerate freedom of speech.

Liberal and civil groups or individuals will lose legitimacy in the region and civil society will crumble amidst sectarian bloodshed. Is this what the U.S. really wants the region to look like? 

An End to Iran's Containment? - Editorial

  • In recent months, the notion that President Obama is prepared to scrap the 35-year-old U.S. policy of seeking to contain Iranian influence in the Middle East has been widely accepted by Arab and Israeli officials and U.S. commentators; opposition to such a reversal is one reason the prospective nuclear deal is generating bipartisan unease in Congress.
  • Obama said in an interview in December that he hoped a nuclear deal "would serve as the basis for us trying to improve relations over time"; if Iran agreed to the accord, he added, it could become "a very successful regional power."
  • (Washington Post)

    Don't Use Iran to Fight ISIS - Tovah Lazaroff interviews Yuval Steinitz

    It's a mistake for the U.S. to use Iran to fight Islamic State and to help police the Middle East, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz warned in an interview. "Iran is already a stable caliphate and to allow it to be a superpower, this is a terrible, historic mistake." He warned that the U.S. "will get an Iranian Shi'ite empire with such vast resources and vast territory that the problem of Islamic State will be only one percent of this new problem. You do not resolve this problem [with Islamic State] by creating a bigger problem." 

    (Jerusalem Post)


    LHwrites said...

    What's missing, of course, from this little group of articles is that the U.S. created this situation. These articles are written as if we are standing by allowing this to happen, or are unaware and need these pundits and editorials to explain it to us. I love in the first article "After the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, the civil war in Iraq, followed by the rise of Islamic State," almost makes it sound like it just happened, like "after the snows of winter..." or "After the recession of the early 1980's" But of course, it was the great saviors of Israel--Bush, Cheney, Netanyahu; who engineered, deceived and supported all the actions that have led us to this extremely unpleasant situation today. Your fine blog has done a very good job of highlighting the problems, but the solutions lie somewhere far away from the people, pundits and politicians who created this mess.

    Bruce said...

    I'm not sure it's wise to be going to bat for Iran...when two enemies fight each other, it might be best to let them kill each other. The only policy that is sound is to arm the Kurds to the teeth. Wonder why the US is dragging its feet on that obvious one. Could it be that Obama still doesn't want to upset Turkey and Iran??

    Yes, the US contributed to the situation. You speak as if Obama has not been the president for 6 years. The vacuum was left by him. Big mistake.

    LHwrites said...

    Not going to bat for Iran. Not ignoring that Obama has been President. He left no vacuum. It was a lie the Bush administration when they claimed the war would be easy and short. it was naivety of anyone who believed them. It is nonsense if anyone believed we were staying there forever, or that Iraq was going to let us stay---which they didn't---or that anyone thought we were going to force our way into occupying forever. Many who speak of "the only thing to do" "the only policy" "the only way"... said the same thing about Iraq, and it would not make sense to pursue policies advanced by the same pundits and politicians that created the entire situation in the first place.