Maliki Turns Towards Iran: Will We Yet Lose in Iraq?

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 5 months ago

I have been following the political machinations in Iraq, and warning against a government ruled by Maliki.  Amir Taheri outlines the sheer magnitude of trouble brewing in Iraq as a result of Iran’s influence.

Last week, he (Maliki) concluded an accord with the Sadrist bloc — whose leader, firebrand mullah Muqtada Sadr, has been living in the Iranian holy city of Qom since 2008. The two men pretend to have forgotten, if not forgiven, the bloody battle for Basra that broke Sadr’s Mahdi Army (trained and led by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard).

To clinch the deal, Maliki has dropped his “Iraq first” rhetoric in favor of a pan-Shiite approach. He has agreed to stop legal proceedings against the fugitive mullah, who’s wanted in Najaf on a charge of murder. Maliki even has dropped hints that the remnants of the Mahdi Army, which fled to Iran, would be allowed to return with impunity.

Yet the Sadrists demand more: key posts, such as ministers for oil, the interior, defence and education. If they succeed, the key policies of Iraq’s government could be made in Tehran.

Tehran helped the deal by ordering its oldest Shiite clients, the so-called Supreme Islamic Assembly of Iraq (and its armed wing, the Badr Brigades), to back Maliki. Another Iran-sponsored Shiite group, under ex-Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, has also thrown the little weight it has behind Maliki.

Even then, the math doesn’t work. Maliki’s bloc, The State of Law, won 89 seats in the 325-seat National Assembly. Adding the Sadrists, the Badrists and the Jaafarists yields 156 — still seven short of a majority. But Maliki’s advisers claim that he can seduce enough independents to secure a bare majority.

Forming such a government would be bad for Iraq and the region — and for Maliki’s place in history. It would be based on less than 40 percent of the votes in the election. And more than 90 percent of those votes came from only nine out of Iraq’s 18 provinces.

An estimated 30 percent of Shiites didn’t vote for the four parties in the proposed coalition. In five provinces, the coalition parties didn’t draw even 1 percent.

No government in Baghdad would be able to run Iraq without the support of the secular bloc of Sunnis and Shiites led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, which came first with 91 seats. And any new government must also win over the Kurds, some 20 percent of the population.

The three Kurdish parties, with 60 seats, could give Maliki a strong majority. But their price is too steep. They want a third of the Cabinet and insist that no key decision be taken without their approval.

They also want a free hand to exploit oil resources in their three autonomous provinces — and to annex oil-rich Kirkuk, where Kurds are 40 percent of the population.

There is a host of problems associated with the current U.S. engagement in Iraq, not least of which is the highly restrictive Status of Forces Agreement which has Soldier’s under virtual house arrest, unable to do anything without Iraqi permission.  The tactical capabilities of the Iraqi Security Forces is still highly questionable, and in one recent engagement called the Battle of Palm Grove, the ISF couldn’t handle even the basics of small unit fire and maneuver warfare.

But even within the current framework, there are still missteps by the administration that are making the problem far worse.  Continuing with Taheri’s assessment:

Maliki’s advisers tell me that he decided to turn to pro-Tehran groups because he believes the Obama administration has no overarching strategy in the Middle East, let alone in Iraq. By constantly apologizing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and talking of leaving Iraq (and the region), President Obama risks reducing the United States to irrelevance in a complex power game that could decide the future of the Middle East.

Vice President Joe Biden’s public appeal to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to intervene in the formation of a new government showed the administration’s failure to understand the desire of most Iraqis, including Maliki’s supporters, to keep the mullahs out of politics — a desire shared by Sistani himself.

Maliki’s ability to hang on is not limitless. By the end of this year, as the term of the annual budget ends, his government could run out of money. His accord with the Sadrists suggests that he’ll announce a new government before then. Such a government, however, might prove unstable, making a political crisis, leading to fresh general elections, a possibility.

The Obama administration appears to have no plans to deal with the situation — even though, for all the talk of leaving, America still has 55,000 troops and perhaps as many civilian workers in Iraq.

Desperate to secure a government in Iraq – any government – the U.S. administration has done exactly the opposite of what is needed, and continues to send exactly the wrong message.  China continues to violate the trade embargo with Iran, weapons are still being interdicted from Iran on their way to fighters in Afghanistan, and the administration continues to pretend that diplomacy is accomplishing forward progress with Persia.

Maliki knows better, and he is laying his bets on Tehran to prevail.  It is estimated that fully one quarter of U.S. deaths in Iraq were at the hands of Iranian fighters.  Even more came from Iranian-backed fighters.  Their ghosts demand justice, but instead find that the U.S. and Iran may even be colluding to invoke power sharing in Iraq.

And thus this administration may yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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26 Comments on "Maliki Turns Towards Iran: Will We Yet Lose in Iraq?"

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Instapundit » Blog Archive » IRAQ: Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?…

[…] IRAQ: Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory? […]

Diggs
Member

Ahmedinijahd is a stronger, more reliable leader than Obama?
Knock me over with a feather.

Mo
Guest

This administration is traitorous. Not Maliki, the Obama admin. It gets clearer by the day. Examples too numerous to mention, but making sure our soldiers’ sacrifices will have been in vain will be one of the most egregious examples, but only one of many.

Of course, if/when things go further downhill in Iraq, it’ll all be blamed on Bush. But just like Vietnam, it’ll be the fault of the Left. Sad.

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Daily Pundit » I Told You So

[…] The Captain’s Journal » Maliki Turns Towards Iran: Will We Yet Lose in Iraq? I have been following the political machinations in Iraq, and warning against a government ruled by Maliki. Amir Taheri outlines the sheer magnitude of trouble brewing in Iraq as a result of Iran’s influence. Last week, he (Maliki) concluded an accord with the Sadrist bloc — whose leader, firebrand mullah Muqtada Sadr, has been living in the Iranian holy city of Qom since 2008. The two men pretend to have forgotten, if not forgiven, the bloody battle for Basra that broke Sadr’s Mahdi Army (trained and led by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard). […]

Blacque Jacques Shellacque
Guest
Blacque Jacques Shellacque

Of course, if/when things go further downhill in Iraq, it’ll all be blamed on Bush.

Some of it can be. Fallujah should never have been allowed to turn into Insurgent Central, and Muqtada Sadr should have been promptly turned into worm food the day he poked his fat little head up and started trouble.

Fen
Guest

Pakistan is making the same deal. What OBL said about strong horse rings true. The only thing American allies can count on is that Obama will throw them under the bus.

This is the “smart diplomacy” we were promised.

KP
Guest

Toonces has no vision, no wisdom and no insight into world and regional politics. He and Biden make Carter-Mondale look like world class geniuses.

I think Toonces gets up every day, admires himself in the mirror then decides if it’s a vacation, golf, tossing someone under bus, or driving off a cliff. Personally, I think option 4 is best and it would be a crying shame if there were empty seats on the bus to Obamaville!!!

KP
Guest

PS – Ad Hominem? Let the facts in evidence speak.

craig
Guest

It was doomed to be thus from the start. Arabs will always side with fellow tribesmen against neighboring tribes, and with neighboring tribes against non-Arabs; Moslems will always side with other Moslems against infidels. The only exception is when they are bribed to do otherwise. Any dreams Westerners might have had that we could forge real, and not temporarily rented, alliances were foolish delusions all along.

jbrookins
Guest

The American Politician and at times the military brass simply don’t know anymore what victory is or how to achieve it. Because we can’t define it or our enemies we are going to have continued low grade warfare and failure.

Brock
Guest

There could be peace in Iraq if the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds were able to agree on that. But they can’t, so there won’t be. Maliki must turn to Iran because the Sunnis and Kurds will not turn to him (and he won’t turn to them). Obama sure isn’t helping, but ultimate peace vs. civil war is a local decision, and the locals bear the greatest responsibility.

TSAlfabet
Member
To Mo: agree. Do Obama’s actions rise to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” I think an argument could be made. To Craig: true in general that all humans (and not just Arabs) will side with the ones most like themselves against “outsiders.” Even so, it does not follow that the Middle East is a hopeless place for the U.S. to involve itself. To the contrary, a great nation takes all factors into account including local prejudice and then forges a grand strategy that works in its best interests. If you want to really feel hopeless, then keep looking for anything like a grand strategy from the knuckleheads in the White House. To Brock: yes, locals are ultimately responsible, but, again, great nations do not wash their hands of difficult situations like this and walk away. Like it or not, the Middle East affects the U.S., here and now, in critical ways. Unless you are Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan, we cannot leave it to the Chinese, Russians and Islamofascists to decide the fate of the world’s oil supply and take our interests to heart. They won’t. Pardon the over-used historical analogy, but we are seeing the 1930’s all over again in… Read more »
craig
Guest
TS Alfabet, my point was not a general one but specifically that this culture considers “don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family” its prime imperative. Three myths have crippled the West going all the way back to the Victorian days of the Great Game. The first myth is that great powers only need to contend with the ambitions of other great powers. This is what led to Lawrence’s Arab nationalism, America’s support for the Saudis against Britain’s for the Hashemites (and vice versa), the Suez incident, the nationalization of Western-developed oilfields, France’s asylum to Khomeini, and America’s support for the Afghans against the USSR. In every case, anti-Western rulers have profited and strengthened from the West’s dismissals of their threat potential. The second myth is that of economic determinism. This Marxist-derived idea is what leads us to propose ineffective “war on poverty” strategies to counter the jihad, ignoring the data that indicate that Islamic anti-Western action increases with wealth. It is also what leads us to expect roads, bridges, and schools to win the allegiance of tribesmen who are far more concerned with what their neighbors think. The third myth is the secular academic idea of multicultural equivalence.… Read more »
TSAlfabet
Member

Your recitation of “myths” seems very solid, Craig.

Allow me to be picky here, nonetheless as to what you call your “general” point about the culture’s “prime imperative.” This may be too strong a descriptor. We have certainly seen instances where tribes have sided with an ‘outsider’ against their own tribe. The Anbaris in 2006-2008 are one example. Perhaps the better formulation is that your “prime imperative” is actually one of simple, self-interest. Where an outsider can show that opposition is not only futile but decidedly against self-interest, the culture permits and even encourages alliances against the “family” (as you call it). Or perhaps, “family” gets defined much more narrowly, as in those Iraqi sunnis who are siding with Al Qaeda are no longer “family” and, thus, it is permissible to side with the Americans against them.

Warbucks
Member

Craig, You bring to the table what seems to be a robust and enlightening classical understanding of middle eastern attitudes and propensities. But I do not understand if you are leading up to a strategy or if you are serving as a critic making counter point. “It was doomed to be thus from the start,” rings true in my ear, but then what? You seem to be describing a US national strategy vision between Muslim and the rest of the world? Or do I miss your point?

I’ve personally come to the point that we pull the troops out and bring them home. I think we’ve achieved a sufficiently important point, real or imaginary.

Taking Tokyo
Guest
TS-Love the comments… You just made a great almost Churchillian warning about the future. I will give you credit for this. But you never look at the antecedents. I don’t buy your solution. A. Take Iran. “The Devil”. I was there in 1972 and saw the Shah’s police arresting and beating people right on the street. Just like we see now. Before they were our BEST Friend. Now, our worst enemy? B. Iraq. We supported Saddam Hussein against Iran in the 1980s. Not a great friend, but from the the 1950s a member of SEATO. We all know the invasion right, wrong, or indifferent was based on hyperbole and false analysis to say the least. Now we have Muqtada Sadr, and Maliki in Qom. Going are way is it? The Captain saw through this pretty well again. C. Egypt, our Friend. Since Sadat we have armed them to the teeth and allowed them to evove via the successor regime to the most corrupt and hated regime since Iran. Whats next there? Mubarak’s son or a revolution? D. Saudi Arabia. Say no more. Friend? or Foe. Another great success. E. Syria; Never talked to them since 1972, since they were a… Read more »
TSAlfabet
Member
@ Tokyo: Well, I will give *you* credit. Your perspective is certainly one side of the argument, and forcefully done. It is a bit of a straw man (and greatly weakens your argument) when you claim that I am in favor of invading every country and imposing a Neo-Roman empire. No one is in favor of anything like that, so let’s put that one in the dumper. Also, your grand tour of the Middle East is interesting, but not entirely on point. Even if we assume that your pithy summaries of each nation are correct, the most that can be said is that alot of stupid policy has been concocted, attempted, and tolerated over the last 60 years. Does that somehow justify a Pat Buchanan or Ron Paul position of, basically, “To hell it with the rest of the world” now? Where does that get us? Has the U.S. made mistakes, backed obnoxious regimes and chosen its allies poorly at times? Of course. But is it so much easier to play Monday morning quarterback and forget what our predecessors faced. Come to think of it, I seem to recall that we were allied with and sending billions of dollars worth… Read more »
Warbucks
Guest

We must take measures to return to participatory democracy while preserving the republic. We are thinking, acting and extending our vast powers without using clear, simple, direct words. When we go to war, we should formerly declare war as was intended by the spirit of the US Constitution. We have been in over 250 armed conflicts and declared war, what 5 times?

If we can not raise the passions of men to fight in a spirit of the Constitution then so be it. We should refrain from going to war.

All that we are arguing about above is micromanagement. We should either unleash the dogs of war or stay out of harms way.

If there now is a point to the war we now fight, it escapes me.

Close down this war and bring the boys home.

Warbucks
Guest

“Oh, and Rich, one more thing. I don’t apologize in the least for being a tactically oriented web site. I am now and will forever be an advocate for the enlisted man.”… yes I deeply respect that. Keep up the good work. Perhaps I should keep my mind in the trenches and not look above the horizon when I comment.

Warbucks
Guest
“The issue I am pointing to is that you must fully consider ALL OF THE IMPLICATIONS of your views in order to tell me that my solutions are wrong.” That is indeed perhaps a great weakness of my input. It seems to me that a strong defense is indeed needed for the preservation of the values we hold dear under the Constitution. Why does exercising our muscular abilities in response to attacks, more and more, lead us into projected conflicts of decade lengths? It seems to me the Powell Doctrine of measured response was far more in keeping with our national interests and character, than a protracted engagement that seems to be oriented to changing the economic dynamics of the region for the benefit of national hegemony of corporate interests. Are we so fine tuned as a high-tension organization called America, that we must shroud our national interests always in the loud industrial noises or our war machinery? When does the pitch ever relax back into an appreciation and celebration of the sounds of silence. I can no longer properly assess our national interests of our continued presence in this region of the world, other than to now transform legitimate… Read more »
Taking Tokyo
Guest
Great response TS… Everyone is pointing out the Ron Paul…I would PREFER that to endless occupations. Also, I think that is the way it is going to be. I am not a Ron Paul devotee, neither I am a fan of the last ten years of WOT and the way it is going in Iraq or Afghanistan. I think I made clear at the end I support a General Powell approach to all of this. That is intervention without endless occupation. Does not mean you never fight, does not mean you do not stay. But you do not stay and wait for things to go to hell on you. Get the job done, and leave. Go back and do it again is all right with me. Never going to cure all ills by staying and sitting on them on the other side of the world. If anything, these insurgents have proved in the past several years, that they will fight us, and no occupation is going to be a cake walk. Captain was so right, Iraq may not be over yet. In 20 years I do not expect them to be our ally. There has to be a better option… Read more »
dmouse
Guest

Well seeing the news sofar, they just may run faster to iran.

Warbucks
Member

This episode should make entertaining viewing if you happen to be in the neighborhood:

Catching or Committing Fraud? Analyzing Afghanistan’s Parliamentary Election Results (http://click.newsletters.usip.org/?qs=7d6b49b2b49352c053a48d0f646e88b19db6c57c321ab4be88fe1340520573f9 )

November 15, 2010, 10:00 am-12:00pm EST

Location:
U.S. Institute of Peace
2nd floor
1200 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036

wpDiscuz

You are currently reading "Maliki Turns Towards Iran: Will We Yet Lose in Iraq?", entry #5635 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iran,Iraq,Obama Administration and was published October 18th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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