March 13, 2008

Handshakes with the Enemy

Abe [Greenwald] already blogged about this, but I wanted to follow up on Diana West’s fretting in the Washington Times about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent trip to Iraq, where he was supposedly given a warm reception by the Baghdad government. “[O]ur Iraqi allies have welcomed our Iranian enemies right into it.” Not so fast. Iraq and Iran are two Shia-majority countries. They share a long border and a terrible history, as Abe pointed out. They should be expected to have relations of some kind, and the more civil the better considering the depth of hatred Iranian Persians and Iraqi Arabs have for each other. Another full-blown war between Iraq and Iran is in the interests of no one.

In any case, a meeting, a few agreements, and a photo op don’t make these two countries an axis. Iran supports insurgents that for years have been trying to destroy the Baghdad government using terrorism, guerilla warfare, assassination, and sabotage. Who can seriously believe after all this–not to mention the centuries of conflict that preceded it–that the two governments actually like each other? Baghdad may formally welcome Ahmadinejad, but certainly not his proxy armies.

But let’s put that aside for the sake or argument and assume Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki may be a quiet Iranian sympathizer. What about Iraq’s president?

“Mr. Ahmadinejad was greeted with multiple kisses from Iraqi President Jalal Talabani,” West notes before saying “Blech.” Talabani is not only Iraq’s president. He is also the political leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the staunchly secular leftist political party with its home base in the Kurdish city of Suleimaniya. The PUK provides funds and materials to at least two exiled Kurdish Iranian political parties in Iraqi Kurdistan whose explicit goal is the destruction of the Islamic Republic regime in Tehran. Each of these parties has their own private army. One crossed into Iran recently and fought the regime in the streets during an uprising in the city of Mahabad. The idea that the secular, leftist, and Kurdish Jalal Talabani supports the theocratic, rightist, and Persian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while at the same time funding and supplying revolutionaries who cross the border, doesn’t make sense.

Read the rest in Commentary Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 13, 2008 3:28 PM
Comments

I doubt that I'm alone in my great interest in what Iraqis say about their feelings for Iran.
For Iran's support of terrorism in Iraq.
For Iran's progress at building a nuke.

What, if anything, they think should be done about Iran.

Diana West is being a bit silly, and your Pres. Talibani example is excellent at showing this.

But your highest value add is telling us what Iraqis really say about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent trip.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at March 14, 2008 7:20 AM

he idea that the secular, leftist, and Kurdish Jalal Talabani supports the theocratic, rightist, and Persian Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, while at the same time funding and supplying revolutionaries who cross the border, doesn’t make sense.

Well, hang on a minute. It's been pretty well known ever since Talabani first took his current role in the Iraqi government that he's been friendly with the Iranians for a long time, especially as he lived there for a while, and was given Iranian support in the Kurdish struggle against Hussein. He also sided with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war.

That isn't the same as saying that he wants an Iranian-style theocracy in his own country. But he is on very friendly terms with Iran.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 14, 2008 10:57 AM

Well, pragmatically friendly terms, if not very friendly.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 14, 2008 12:09 PM

Ha When no one responds quick enough, DPU goes ahead and has a debate with himself ;-)

Just ribbing you, move your hands away from the keys...

Posted by: Joe Author Profile Page at March 14, 2008 12:26 PM

Ha When no one responds quick enough, DPU goes ahead and has a debate with himself ;-)

It was quiet, too quiet.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 14, 2008 12:35 PM

Ha! Nice

Posted by: Joe Author Profile Page at March 14, 2008 12:39 PM

DPU: pragmatically friendly terms

Which is pretty much my point.

The West does the same thing, albeit a bit more reluctantly and less flamboyantly. George W. Bush may have mellowed on Moammar Qadaffi (or however his name is spelled this week), but they won't be hugging each other any time soon.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 14, 2008 1:12 PM

Which is pretty much my point.

Okay, but Iraqi government friendliness toward Iran isn't such a stretch if you consider that the largest faction within the Iraqi government is the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. They are almost a direct Iranian politic proxy.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 14, 2008 1:20 PM

I'm with you on this one Michael.

Iraq is a Strategic Crossroads in the Middle East similar to the role of Germany in Europe.

An Iraq that looks like post WWI Germany (failed economy, huge reparations payments) is a recipe for another war.(Can we say OIF I and sanctions?)

An Iraq that looks more like post WWII Germany...prosperous and pacifist(Security Guaranteed(sp) by Uncle Sam) is a recipe for regional peace.

There are two many Shiite Holy places in Iraq for the Iranians to prohibit their citizens from travel to Iraq the way the Soviets prohibited the East Germans from traveling to West Germany.

Posted by: Soldier's Dad Author Profile Page at March 15, 2008 8:22 AM

DPU;
Oops! A-Jad does a face-plant in Iraq. Flees amid deafening Iraqi snickering!
It's all relative, you see ...

Posted by: Brian H Author Profile Page at March 26, 2008 12:25 PM
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