Monday, January 29, 2007

Iran in Iraq

I've always believed that to mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, the US must engage its neighbors, especially Iran which has considerable influence over the predominantly Shia Iraq. The US excuse has been that Iran is unwilling to negotiate with the US, that the US has no "leverage" when it comes to Iran. And so we have been on the offensive: accusing the Iranian government of supplying weapons to the militias, seizing Iranian operatives within Iraq, authorizing our military to kill Iranian operatives inside Iraq and so on.

Meanwhile President Ahmadinejad has had this to say: " Trying to weaken the Iraqi government is tantamount to "treason for the Iraqi people and Islamic nation."

Whether he is being sincere or not is a up to debate. The point is that no matter what differences the US and Iran may have, both have an overwhelming desire to prevent Iraq from sliding into an all-out civil war. Today the New York Times reports that Iran is going to go ahead with its plans to help stabilize Iraq regardless of the US' warnings not to "meddle."
"The ambassador, Hassan Kazemi Qumi, said Iran was prepared to offer Iraq government forces training, equipment and advisers for what he called 'the security fight.' In the economic area, Mr. Qumi said, Iran was ready to assume major responsibility for Iraq reconstruction, an area of failure on the part of the United States since American-led forces overthrew Saddam Hussein nearly four years ago."
These projects will certainly strengthen Iran's influence in Iraq, and so it is in America's best interest that it works together with Iran to temper this influence as best it can. In a related story, it was reported today that Iran recently received a letter from US officials that sought to ease the tension between the two countries. Hopefully this letter signifies a realization on the part of the US that whether we like it or not, Iran is going to be a factor in Iraq.

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