US leading Iran into Iraqi quagmire

By Finian Cunningham (PTV)

Takfiri militants in Iraq
Takfiri militants in Iraq

Are we witnessing a new era of cooperation between the US and Iran, prompted by the crisis gripping Iraq?

That’s quite a turnaround, considering Washington continues to accuse Iran of sponsoring international terrorism and secretly harboring ambitions to build
nuclear weapons.

America’s top diplomat John Kerry says the US is “now open” to working with Iran in a bid to halt the collapse of the Baghdad government, as formerly Al Qaeda-linked militants take over large parts of the country and are poised within 60 kilometers of the Iraqi capital.

The seemingly dramatic shift in US policy towards Iran is underlined by Washington’s ally Britain saying also this week that it is planning to re-open the British embassy in Tehran after years of closure. UK Foreign Minister William Hague said the move reflected the “warming relations” between Iran and the West over the Iraq crisis.

The New York Times reports that the West and Iran are trying to find “common security interests” in Iraq. The paper claims that both sides share a “common enemy” – the militants of the so-called Islamic State
of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The New York Times’ claim is a travesty of the truth. The extremist ISIS group in its current form is a creation of US covert support, along with Washington’s NATO and Persian Gulf Arab allies.

The ideology of ISIS is a reflection of its Wahhabi sponsors among the Saudi and Qatari monarchies, both of which have plied over $10 billion into supporting the ISIS and other extremist groups, such as Jabhat al Nusra.

Now Washington and its mouthpieces are re-writing recent history by trying to make out that the ISIS and its terrorist ilk are “enemies of the West”.

Only weeks ago, these terrorist mercenaries were filmed operating in Syria with newly supplied US anti-tank TOW missiles.

So, the idea that the ISIS is a “common enemy” to the US and Iran is an absurd false premise. ISIS is a proxy for Washington and its Western and Arab allies to wage covert war in the region for strategic objectives. That proxy force has been directed primarily at destabilizing Syria with the objective of regime change against the
Damascus government of President Bashar al Assad.

However, one of the other main Western objectives of regime change in Syria over the past three years is to weaken Syria’s key regional ally, Iran.

That perspective of underlying Western hostility towards Iran needs to be kept firmly in focus as we assess the current turmoil in Iraq. Washington is not extending a hand of cooperation towards Iran. It is rather more a poisoned chalice.

It is significant that the seemingly explosive advances made by ISIS in Iraq follows two developments: the nearing outright military defeat of this Western proxy in neighboring Syria; and the stunning election victory of President Assad earlier this month, when he won the backing of nearly 89 per cent of the Syrian electorate.

Both developments have effectively put paid to NATO, Arab and Israeli attempts to subvert Syria with their more than three-year campaign of covert terrorism in that country.

Notice, too, how Syria has suddenly dropped from the Western media news cycles. This signals that Washington and its allies have realized that they cannot prosecute
their objectives of regime change in Syria and, secondarily, Iran.

Directing covert war to Iraq seems to be Washington’s Plan B to embroil and undermine Iran by some other means.

Western diplomatic sources are saying that Washington is not contemplating military cooperation with Iran in securing Iraq. But what might be on the cards is for Washington to countenance “Iran sending in troops to Iraq” to help shore up the government of Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

That does not sound like “cooperation”. Rather, it sounds like Washington is preparing a quagmire for Iran in Iraq. One can envisage Iranian troops going into Iraq with the best of intentions of trying to secure the country and to quell the ISIS onslaught. Meanwhile, the US and its NATO and Arab allies will continue their covert support of their ISIS proxy and in that way drag Iran into a crippling counterinsurgency war.

The most effective way to end the violence in Iraq is for Washington and its allies to stop fuelling the proxy ISIS mercenaries and their war of terror in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region. That Washington and its allies are not contemplating the effective solution shows that their purported concerns for Iraq are not genuine, and nor are their “friendly” overtures towards Iran.


Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is now located in East Africa as a freelance journalist, where he is writing a book on Bahrain and the Arab Spring, based on eyewitness experience working in the Persian Gulf as an editor of a business magazine and subsequently as a freelance news correspondent. The author was deported from Bahrain in June 2011 because of his critical journalism in which he highlighted systematic human rights violations by regime forces. He is now a columnist on international politics for Press TV and the Strategic Culture Foundation.

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