However, the Iranian lobby pushes to promote the idea that the Islamic Republic could use its influence as a great neighbor to stabilize Iraq. They even suggest that concessions must be made to Tehran on the nuclear issue in exchange for its cooperation in the Iraq crisis. But according to some analysts in the Middle East and in the West, this would be the perfect advice for a new catastrophe in Iraq. Reviews are increasing in political circles in the region and in particular in Iraq that in fact one should proceed in the opposite direction: namely resolutely brushing aside the Iranian regime and its revolutionary guards from the game in Iraq and recognizing that Tehran is the heart of the problem, not the solution.
Yet some diplomatic and business communities in France are under the influence of pro-Iranian regime lobbies. Are they looking to lead France into the trap set by the Iranian maneuvers? These media are trying to exploit the overture of French authorities regarding Syrian and Iraqi issues to bring about a place of respectability for the regime in Tehran. In a recent hearing in parliament, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius hoped that “all countries in the Middle East region, together with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, act together against the jihadists of the Islamic State”. MPs with freshly made tours to Iran under the leadership and the insistence of the Iranian regime have seized the opportunity to demand cooperation with Iran.
REASONS FOR IMPLOSION OF IRAQ
Why partnering with the Iranian regime to save Iraq would be the worst conceivable political mistake. To explain, simply recall the role played by the Iranian regime in Iraq since 2003 and especially since Nouri Maliki was appointed Prime Minister. In the absence of an American post-war policy, the Iranian regime has filled the power vacuum in Iraq after the fall of the former regime.
On July 6, the Washington Post ran an amazing article on the failure of American policy in Iraq and the role of Iran in the country. Ali Khedery, former Special Assistant to five U.S. Ambassadors to Iraq and the longest-serving American official in the country reflects in a cautionary article on “the reasons for the implosion of Iraq”. It is in the destructive action of the Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and his Iranian mentor Qasem Soleimani, a senior IRGC commander and chief of Iran’s policy in Iraq, that we see the causes of the tragedy in this country. But also in the misjudgment of American officials who did not oppose the Iranian seizure of Iraqi political life.
Ali Khedery described an amazing episode in Baghdad. In 2010, the secular Ayad Allawi won the election and the pro-Iranian Shiite clan plagued by dissensions, had lost the election. Prime Minister Maliki had to abandon the idea of a second term. But the Iranian regime pressured Shiite organizations to close ranks behind Maliki and brush aside Allawi. Here is how this episode is explained in the Washington Post:
“On Sept. 1, 2010, at a dinner at the ambassador’s residence that included Biden, his staff, the generals and senior embassy officials, I made a brief but impassioned argument against Maliki and for the need to respect the constitutional process… Our debates mattered little, however, because the most powerful man in Iraq and the Middle East, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, was about to resolve the crisis for us. Within days of Biden’s visit to Baghdad, Soleimani summoned Iraq’s leaders to Tehran… After admonishing the feuding Iraqis to work together, Soleimani dictated the outcome on behalf of Iran’s supreme leader: Maliki would remain premier and the American military would be made to leave at the end of 2011. I was determined not to let an Iranian general who had murdered countless American troops dictate the endgame for the United States in Iraq.”
Ali Khedery adds: “But all the lobbying was for naught. By November, the White House had settled on its disastrous Iraq strategy. The Iraqi constitutional process and election results would be ignored, and America would throw its full support behind Maliki. With instructions from Tehran, Maliki began to form a cabinet around some of Iran’s favorite men in Iraq.”
IRAN: CAUSE OF WOES IN IRAQ
The crisis currently affecting Iraq and the Middle East was not only predictable but avoidable. By allowing the takeover by Iran, the United States helped Iraq to sink every day in ethnic and religious wars. With the action of militias, death squads and agents of influence of the Islamic Republic in the administration, the military, and especially the Ministry of the Interior of the country, Iraq is today on the verge of implosion. Sponsored by Qasem Soleimani, Premier Nouri Maliki conducted a despotic policy removing his rivals first among Sunnis and Kurds and then among its Shiite allies. Maliki never appointed a Minister of the Interior, nor a Defense Minister or a Chief of Intelligence. He filled these positions himself under the supervision of his Iranian mentor. Its sectarian and pro-Iranian policy has alienated the Shiites and Sunnis population as a whole who now regard Iran as the source of their woes and demand an end to its grip on the country. This is what is meant in the rebellion of central and northern provinces that are dominated by Sunnis, but also in the streets of Karbala and Basra that are under Shiite domination, says an analysis of the Foundation for Middle East Studies (FEMO).
In addition to the daily slaughter of the Iraqi people, Nouri Maliki also accomplished another task entrusted by Suleimani: to destroy Iran’s main opposition that has sought refuge in Iraq, namely the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI)/mek based in Camp Ashraf. Maliki’s second term was marred by several massacres in Camp Ashraf and deadly attacks against Camp Liberty by militias organized by Iran and under the command of former Prime Minister Maliki.
In 2003, to fight the regime of Saddam Hussein, the United States committed a grave blunder by associating Iran to the post-war Iraq and offered Iraq on a silver platter to the Iranian regime. In 2014, to fight the Islamic State’s obscurantist forces and its atrocities, will the international community again make the same mistake by associating Iran with the fight? Is Iran, as in Syria, the source of the problem rather than the solution, as stated by key stakeholders? Any kind of carte blanche to the intervention of Iran will forever destroy the possibility of reconciliation between Sunni and Shia in Iraq and immortalize the conflict as happened in Syria. The French diplomacy should take care to avoid the harmful influence of Iran in the international process of aid to Iraq and push for the formation of an inclusive government that would include Kurds and Sunnis. This is the sole solution to end the caliphate that is proclaimed by Islamic State.