27 October 2008

CTC Sheds Some Light on Iran's Two-Faced Game in Iraq

Iranian-backed Militia Thugs in the Streets [ABC]

The Counter-terrorism Center at West Point has released another important study regarding the proverbial Long War. It concerns Iranian influence in Iraq and recommendations to halt the nefarious part of their meddling [pdf]. Viewing this problem in the traditional conservative/liberal lens of domestic politics is an unfitting model for this complicated issue. If you're a crunchy liberal, you may think that U.S. actions in Iraq are unjustified and the Bush administration is rotten to the core, therefore Ahmadinejad's rhetoric about the U.S. being an imperial aggressor may sound slightly appealing (see the "I have a Crush on Ahmadinejad" post). Conversely, if you're a real charlie-church conservative, you probably view Iran as an evil empire and military action against the nation is inevitable. Both ideologies fail to comprehend what is really happening, and the CTC offers up an objective analysis of this important foreign policy issue.

Their key findings indicats that Iran is trying to give its traditional nemesis, The Great Satan aka the U.S., the boot from Iraq by use of proxy militias and influence in Iraqi politics, while simultaneously hoping to ensure a stable and friendly Iraq so that trench warfare isn't revisited ala the '80-'88 Iran-Iraq war. As evidenced by the money-hungry militia thugs that ruled Basra prior to the offensive in March, Iran's dangerous game of supporting combatants has an effect that is incredibly counter-productive to its stated goal of a stable Iraq. From the CTC study pg. 13:
It is a mistake to think of all Iranian influence in Iraq as nefarious. Iran should have a close relationship with the Iraqi government and strong economic and social ties to the Iraqi people. Nonetheless, Iranian policy over the last five years has been two‐faced: offering Iraq’s government moral support while arming militias that undermine governmental authority; funneling advanced weapons to attack its enemies, but providing humanitarian aid for the Iraqi people; and encouraging free elections, but attempting to manipulate their results.
The CTC suggests an aggressive military and diplomatic effort to curb negative Iranian influence, while encouraging Iraqi nationalism to thwart Iran from subverting the Iraqi political process. The study even suggests direct negotiations between Iran and the U.S. to increase transparency of funds that Iran provides to Iraq. This is a very informative study, and goes way beyond the usual pundit blabber of "preconditions" and "Iran sucks, America is Awesome" that we can't seem to get beyond in this horrendous election season. Worth a read.