Thursday, September 14, 2006

In Iraq, Iran’s Arab Credentials Are Made


by Nicola Nasser

"When President George W. Bush never stops repeating that “success in Iraq is necessary for the security of the United States” (1) and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pledges “full security” (2) for Bush’s Iraqi regime, one could not but wonder whether Iran and the U.S. are in collusion or in collision in Iraq.

On July 26, al-Maliki addressed the Americans. “When (Iraqi and American) blood mixes together in the field, aiming to achieve one goal, this blood will help in establishing a long-lasting relationship between us. Our relationship will stay forever,” he said. 47 days later he addressed the Iranians after talks he described as “very constructive” and called Iran “a very important country, a good friend and brother,” Al-Maliki said.

A third more realistic interpretation is that both powers have converging agendas in the wretched country and have, in an ironic moment of history, worked either together or in harmony to bring to power in Baghdad a government that both bombastically claim as their own and both describe as democratically representative of the people whose independence, state, territorial integrity, resources and historical cultural identity they are unmercifully ravaging.

Iran’s passivity and de facto coexistence with the U.S.-led NATO presence in Afghanistan only serves as a precedent to Arab sceptics.

The sectarian divide is the only approach to enable Tehran to gain influence on the ground; it is the pretext the U.S. repeatedly cites to keep its occupation forces as the arbiter in the country; the Israeli Jewish state which bases its statehood on a purely religious identity foment it for high strategic stakes to prevent an influential Arab country from regaining its statehood; the U.S. and Iran-backed Kurdish separatists see it as a prerequisite to fend off the Arab majority from curbing their autonomous status and their aspirations for independence; and the sectarian-based militias and their leaders will have no other grounds for any power base without it.

The “excellent” bilateral ties hailed by Ahmadinejad during al-Maliki’s visit, his pledges to “completely support the Iraqi government and parliament” and his promise that “Iran will provide assistance to the Iraqi government to establish full security” (1) should have been more than gratefully welcome statements were they not extended to a government that was engineered, sustained, protected and still commanded by the generals of the U.S.-led occupation army.

Iran, al-Maliki’s government and its predecessors, and the U.S. occupying power are and were always keen to confuse the Iraqi resistance with a minority of foreign-linked or foreign fighters whom they accuse of fomenting sectarian violence and “terrorism” in Iraq. This ever growing resistance is the major threat to al-Malki’s government, which his Iranian host pledged to secure, and it is also the same threat to the foreign occupation.

How could Tehran agree to dissolving the militias it sponsored, financed, armed and used as a “fifth column” during the eight-year war with Iraq and prepared, alongside the similarly sponsored Kurdish Peshmerga in northern Iraq, to continue the U.S. inconclusive war, which evacuated Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991, to topple the Saddam-Hussein-led Baath regime in Baghdad."

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