5 years, 9 months ago
General Petraeus warned us. In testimony before Congress in September of 2007, he said “You cannot win in Iraq solely in Iraq.” He also said that “It is increasingly apparent to both coalition and Iraqi leaders that Iran, through the use of the Quds force, seeks to turn the Iraqi special groups into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq.”
Fast forward to the recent trip by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iraq. Alireza Jafarzadeh gives us some sense of what this was like for Iraq
Behind the orchestrated pomp and pageantry during the visit to Baghdad last weekend by the Iranian ayatollahs’ president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it was hard to miss the revulsion of Iraqis of all stripes. Adjectives like “historic” could not disguise the frustrating reality for Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs: outside of Iraqi political spheres dominated by Tehran surrogates, they are seen as enemies of a secure, non-sectarian and democratic Iraq.
The greeting parties, in the Baghdad airport and later in various government buildings, were who’s who of Tehran’s proxies in Iraq’s government. They “listened to Ahmadinejad,” according to McClatchy News Service, “without need of translation into Arabic, clearly comfortable hearing his Farsi.” Not surprising; for more than two decades, they were employed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Qods Force, and the Ministry of Intelligence. Learning Farsi was a job requirement.
Outside of the very limited segment of Baghdad where Ahmadinejad visited, there was outrage. A young Baghdad resident told the New York Times, “I think Ahmadinejad is the most criminal and bloody person in the world. This visit degrades Iraq’s dignity.” Up north in Kirkuk, where Arab tribes and political parties rallied against Ahmadinejad’s visit, a tribal leader told the Times, “How can we tolerate this? Today we live under the regime of the clerics. The Iranian revolution has been exported to Iraq.” An Iraqi businessman added, “His visit is intended to reassure his followers here,” but is “provoking and enraging” the rest of Iraq … “Your mortars preceded your visit,” one placard read. Another read, “We condemn visit of terrorist and butcher Ahmadinejad to Iraq,” according to the Associated Press.
But those mortars fell strangely silent during the visit. Azzaman is reporting what most main stream media is not, when they observe that:
Sunday was perhaps Iraqi capital’s quietest day since the country plunged into violence shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2003.
No car bomb explosions, shelling or kidnapping were reported and analysts attributed the calm to the landmark visit by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Daily bombings, explosions and kidnapping have become part of life in Baghdad.
But the calm that descended on the restive capital on Sunday and Monday night was unprecedented, analysts said.
Many attributed the quiet to government’s decision to cordon off large parts of Baghdad and ban traffic in many districts and over several bridges.
But an Iraqi intelligence source said groups fighting U.S. troops and those responsible for the ongoing violence had put a temporary halt to their activities.
This shows, he said, how influential Iran has become in Iraq and the role it plays in assisting and arming these groups.
It didn’t take long for the bombs to begin again in Iraq after Ahmadinejad’s visit. “Two bombs went off within minutes of each other in a crowded shopping district in the capital Thursday, killing at least 53 people and wounding 130—a reminder that deadly attacks are a daily threat even though violence is down.”
It isn’t difficult to catalogue actions to begin to hold the radical Ayatollahs and their henchmen accountable. Here at The Captain’s Journal we have advocated the formulation and funding of an insurgency within Iran to assist in toppling the regime. Some bolder recommendations from various corners (Newt Gingrich) have involved targeting oil. For the more faint of heart there is simply political pressure and funding of opposition within Iran.
But even this last option is too much for the State Department. As we pointed out three months ago, “In an overlooked and almost silent murder, the State Department recently worked directly against both the objectives of the executive branch of the government and the security interests of the United States by killing a program that would have aided democracy in Iran.”
The former director of President Bush’s flagship democracy program for the Middle East is saying that the State Department has “effectively killed” a program to disburse millions of dollars to Iran’s liberal opposition.In an interview yesterday, Scott Carpenter said a recent decision to move the $75 million annual aid program for Iranian democrats to the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs would effectively neuter an initiative the president had intended to spur democracy inside the Islamic Republic.”In my view, this pretty much kills the Iran democracy program,” Mr. Carpenter said of the decision by the State Department to subsume the program. “There is not the expertise, there is not the energy for it. The Iran office is worried about the bilateral policy. I think they are not committed to this anymore.”Mr. Carpenter, who headed the Middle East Partnership Initiative and was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs until he left the Bush administration this summer, predicted the $20 million devoted to supporting the activities inside the Islamic Republic would be relegated to what he called “safe initiatives” such as student exchange programs, and not the more daring projects he and his deputy, David Denehy, funded, such as training for Web site operators to evade Internet censorship, political polling, and training on increasing recruitment for civil society groups.
Within a month or two of General Petraeus reminding us that we cannot win in Iraq if we engage Iraq alone, the State Department killed the sole remaining democracy project for Iran. This intransigence within professional government employees and recalcitrance of even the administration to deal with Iran would be merely a strategic blunder if so many sons of America had not shed blood on Iraqi soil. Because of blood, this stubborness has become sin – a failure in righteousness and morality and decency. The blood of American warriors awaits vindication.