• From 2011: Who Won the War in Iraq? Iran.

    June 18, 2014

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    Posted in: * Most Popular, Embassy/State, Iran, Iraq, Military, PRT Life

    Land of the Free


    For those (I’m talking to you here CNN) who seem surprised about events unfolding now in Iraq, here’s an excerpt from something I wrote almost four years ago. At that time pretty much everyone disagreed with these conclusions, but can you hear me now?


    Wars End?

    When wars end, usually there is a winner and a loser. Greeks burn down the city for the win; Trojans accept a dummy horse for the epic loss, like that. As we near the end of the U.S. military campaign in Iraq, and note the beginning of the State Department occupation (the formal mission handover is Oct. 1), it is a good time to decide who lost and who won, and what that means for the future of Iraq.

    For the minority, all-around Washington guy (now stopping off briefly to be Secretary of Defense) Leon Panetta thinks we and the Iraqis sort of won. Leon said, “But the bottom line is, whether it’s diplomatic or whether it’s military, we’ve got a long-term relationship with Iraq. We’ve invested a lot of blood in (Iraq). And regardless of whether you agree or disagree as to how we got into it, the bottom line is that we now have, through a lot of sacrifice, established a … relatively stable democracy that’s trying to work together to lead that country.”

    Tune into your favorite right-wing blog, and there is lots of mumbo-jumbo about the surge and sacrifices and all that false patriotism stuff that no longer even makes for a good country and western song. On firmer ground, it is less clear that the United States or Iraq won anything. The United States lost 4474 soldiers (and counting), with thousands more crippled or wounded, spent a couple of trillion dollars that helped wreck our economy at home, and did not get much in return.

    Blood for Oil?

    Only in the sense that one of out of every eight U.S. casualties in Iraq died guarding a fuel convoy. Iraqi oil output is stuck at pre-war levels and will be for some time. A drop in world oil prices would wreck the Iraqi economy. Despite Panetta’s patter about Iraq being a country willing to work with the United States, Iraq as a political entity follows its own path, virtually allied with Iran and unsupportive of American geopolitical dreams. The U.S. government will sell some military gear to the Iraqis and make some money, but in the end George Bush went to war and all we got was a low-rent dictatorship turned into a low-rent semi-police state.

    As for Iraq being any sort of winner after being stomped on by the U.S. military, no. Iraq had its civil society shredded, underwent eight years of sectarian civil war, saw over 100,000 killed and is home now to a small but bustling al Qaeda franchise. The United States left without brokering a deal between the Kurds and the Arab Iraqis, leaving that kettle on full boil. The United States also failed to establish stable borders for the Kurds, such that the Iranians shell “Kurdistan” from the east, while Turkish jets drop bombs in the west. Turkey is part of NATO — imagine the U.S. government sitting silently if Germany bombed Poland next week.

    What many people do not know is that one reason for the drop in sectarian violence in 2008 was that both sides had done much of the killing they needed to do. The fighting then was a civil war, Shia versus Sunni, and the death toll was high enough on both sides to achieve the level of segregation and redistribution of power desired at that time– they temporarily ran out of reasons for the war to continue at that level of intensity. Ominously, however, the Sunnis and Shias did not fully settle the score and so that pot sits bubbling on the stove as well.

    Sectarian tensions do still run high in Iraq, and the United States has been left powerless to do anything about it. Except for some technical assistance and perhaps some very low-key special operations help, the U.S. government has taken a sideline seat to the sectarian violence over the last few months, leaving the fight to the Iraqis. Whether zero or 3,000 or 10,000 U.S. troops stay on in Iraq, it is unlikely that such a smaller U.S. force will intervene, given that a larger one declined to do so.

    The tinderbox nature of things is such that the Iraqi government is seeking to ban a television drama about events leading up to the historic split in Islam into Sunni and Shiite sects hundreds of years ago. The Iraqi parliament asked that the Communication and Media Commission, a media regulator, ban “Al Hassan and Al Hussein” on the grounds it incites sectarian tensions and misrepresents historical facts. “This TV serial includes sensitive issues in Islamic history. Presenting them in a TV series leads to agitated strife,” said Ali Al Alaq, a politician who heads the religious affairs committee.

    Needless to say, a glance at the daily news from Iraq will reveal the ongoing steady low hum of suicide bombings and targeted killings that is now all too much a normal part of life. The occasional spectacular attacks (instantly blamed on al Qaeda by the United States) make headlines, but every Iraqi knows it is the regular nature of these killings as much as the death toll itself that is most disruptive to society. Iraq is hardly a winner.

    Who won the war? Iran…

    Iran sat patiently on its hands while the United States hacked away at its two major enemies, Saddam, and the Taliban, clearing both its east and west borders at no cost to Tehran. (Iran apparently reached out to the U.S. government in 2003, seeking some sort of diplomatic relationship but, after being rebuffed by the engorged Bush Administration, decided to wait and watch the quagmire envelope America). The long slog both wars morphed into dulled even the reliably bloodthirsty American public’s taste for another war, and cooled off plans in Tel Aviv and Washington for airstrikes against Iran’s nukes (if Cheney couldn’t edge the United States into that fight, who can?).

    The Iranians also came to see that Iraq, like Lebanon, made for a nice proxy battleground. By the time my tour in Iraq was wrapping up, the mine resistant vehicles we traveled in could take a solid hit from pretty much anything out there and get us home alive, except for one thing: Iranian-made roadside bombs ealled EFPs. These shaped “explosively formed penetrating devices” fired a liquefied white hot slug of molten copper that was about the only weapon that really scared us. The Iranians were players in all parts of Iraqi society post-2003, including the daily violence. (Iranian proxy warfare in Lebanon is well documented in Robert Baer’s excellent book, The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower which also advances the United States vs. Iran proxy theory in general.)

    Iran not only lost an enemy when Saddam was hanged, it gained an ally in the new Iraq. When the United States’ last election surge withered away with the failure of the March 2010 Iraqi contest to produce a government, Iran stepped in to broker a settlement involving current PM Malaki (Malaki also serves as Minister of Defense and Minister of the Interior but is not a dictator) and the jolly Sadrists. Malaki, a Shia, happily recalls his days in exile in Iraq during the Saddam reign while Sadr hid out as a religious “student” in Qom when he was on the U.S. military’s capture or kill list post-2003. Both men remain beholden to Iran and continue to shift Iraq closer and closer to Tehran’s policy positions. Iran has its own proconsul in Baghdad, well-known locally but not discussed much in the west. The guy moved into the job after a tour as head of the Iranian special ops Qods Force.

    Iran Ascendant in Iraq

    Yet while strategic and political relationships are very important between Iraq and Iran, it is the growing economic and social-religious ties that cement the relationship and signify Iran as the real winner of the U.S. invasion. The raw numbers tell a big part of the story: the two countries’ current annual trade is valued at $4 billion to $5 billion and growing, with much more money changing hands on the black market.

    On more formal terms, Iranian First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi kicked off the most recent round of goodwill on July 6, when he traveled to Baghdad to join the Iran-Iraq Joint Supreme Economic Committee. Better yet, Iran agreed to supply 9,400 barrels of “gasoil” a day to Iraq for power generation. Iraq also signed a $365 million agreement to install a pipeline network to import natural gas from Iran for power stations in the country. The pipelines will eventually supply 25 million cubic meters of Iranian natural gas a day to the Sadr, al-Quds and South Baghdad power stations in the Iraqi capital.

    Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Hoshiar Zibary said that Iran and Iraq would soon sign an agreement to overcome “all the suspended problems between both countries.” “Iran is playing a positive role in Iraq and there is no objection for the strengthening of relations between the two countries,” Zibary said.

    But while trade is good, and oil is necessary, the real money is in tourism. More specifically, religious tourism. Iranian Shia pilgrims traveling to previously off-limits shrines in Iraq, is a huge source of economic exchange. It also creates significant people-to-people ties that Iran will be able to exploit long into the future.

    Iranian travel agencies control religious tourism to the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. The Iranian companies are associated with local hotels, also owned by Iranians. The control by Iranian companies extends to tourists from Lebanon who combine a visit to Iraq with one to the religious site Mashhad, in Iran. The Iranian domination also extends to security arrangement for protecting the tourists. That role is filled by one company owned by one of the religious parties in Karbala.

    Business is Booming

    Najaf is in the midst of a hotel building frenzy in a bid to ramp up the number of visiting pilgrims. While thousands of mostly Iranian religious tourists already pass through Najaf every day on what are marketed as nine-day tours of Iraq’s holy Shiite sites, hoteliers and business groups in the city expect hotel capacity, currently at breaking point, to double in the next three years.

    Elsewhere, markets in rural Iraq are filled with Iranian goods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. While the knitwear market is dominated by cheap Chinese stuff, other household goods are conspicuously marked “Made in Iran” and are snapped up by consumers.

    I saw a little slice of this during my own time in Iraq. My Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) covered an area that included the city and mosque of Salman Pak. Once a center for chemical weapons production and secret police training under Saddam, Salman Pak is better known to most Iraqis and Iranians as a historical and recreational area, approximately 15 miles south of Baghdad near a peninsula formed by a broad eastward bend of the Tigris River. It is named after Salman the Persian, a companion of Mohammad, who is buried there.

    Salman Pak is also site of the Arch of Ctesiphon, the remains of the once majestic Persian Sassanid capital. Ctesiphon is one of the largest and oldest freestanding arches in the world. Before the U.S. invasion of 2003, the area was a popular day trip out of Baghdad, and even sported a floating casino and villas for select friends of Saddam. My translator recalled family trips to the area the way my daughters remember a visit to Disney, leaving me a bit nostalgic for a time and place I never knew. The attraction now for Iranian pilgrims is the mosque, once a well-known Shia shrine, converted to a well-known Sunni shrine by Saddam and now once again a well-known Shia shrine after sectarian violence post-2003 blew away most of the Sunnis in the area.

    On routine patrols through the area, my PRT and Army would frequently see giant tour buses with Iranian license plates and markings hauling tourists around the city. The Iranian tourists would take pictures of our military vehicles and gesture at us as we drove past, even as our soldiers scowled at them and pantomimed “no photos.” Nothing weirder than to be spending one’s days freeing Iraq only to run into Iranian tour agencies being the most obvious beneficiaries of that freedom. We didn’t know it then, but our tourists were offering us a glimpse of the future, a picture of who the winners, and losers, were to be in our war.

    Adding it Up

    As for Iraq, add it up:

    –no resolution to the Arab-Kurd issue,

    –no resolution to the Sunni-Shia issue,

    –no significant growth in the oil industry,

    –a weakened U.S. presence more interested in a Middle East land base and profitable arm sales than internal affairs,

    –and an increasingly influential Iran seeking a proxy battleground against the United States and a nicely weak buffer state on its formerly troublesome western border.


    None of that tallies toward a stable Iraq. Indeed, quite the opposite. Worst case scenario might look a lot like the darkest days in Lebanon, with many of the same players at the table.


    Here’s the full article.



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    Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      Peter,

      1. Any chance CNN asks you to appear on their geriatric network to provide some insight?

      2. If you continue to embarrass US with the facts, don’t be surprised if the War Party plants kiddie porn on your computer to shut you up.

      06/18/14 1:52 PM | Comment Link

    • jim hruska said...

      2

      WMW,
      Another by product is the Saudis launching their own foreign policy with out US participation.
      After all why would any sane country hitch their wagon to our star?
      What do we have to offer?
      Bottom line is that we are emotional and propaganda /myth driven and the citizens of the countries mentioned are reality based.
      They know what they want and need.
      They obviously move with a purpose while we think that movement is progress.
      jim hruska

      06/18/14 1:57 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      3

      quote”Who won the war in Iraq?”unquote

      The ones that came home with the most moola, that’s who.

      06/18/14 7:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Jhoover said...

      4

      Peter
      Mohammad Ali Abtahi he was one of Mohammad Khatami official, he said after the invasion of Iraq that without help from Iran and Mullah US will not able to invade Iraq or Afghanistan?

      As per Al-Maliki here another story about his involvement with tererreset against US in Lebanon during 1980 look to those pictures he is there?
      HREF=”http://www.almawsil.com/vb/showthread.php/126434″>ارهابي الامس
      ..حليف الشيطان الاكبر اليوم..وقفة مع العمليات الارهابية لنوري المالكي
      <A

      06/18/14 7:37 PM | Comment Link

    • Kyzl Orda said...

      5

      Any mistakes, just jump in and clarify —

      This is per the link J. Edgar Hoover shared above.

      The article, published by AL Mawsul Newspaper, states that Prime Minister Al Maliki was involved with Islamic Jihad (not sure if I read right but is the writer of the article stating Al Maliki helped organize Islamic Jihad??) — a terrorist group active during the Lebanese civil war, known for being one of the more extremist militias that sprang to notoriety during the Lebanese civil war.

      The Al Mawsul writer states the Iranian ambassador to Damascus at the time, Ali Mohtashami, was the key backer to Islamic Jihad and also helped establish Hezbollah. Al Maliki worked with Mohtashami and Sheikh Mohamed Abdel Halim Zuhairi and Imad Jawad Mughniyah (later killed), and Ali al-Moussawi in setting up Islamic Jihad, which participated in the bombings of the US and French embassies in Beirut as well as the infamous hijacking of the TWA flight (June 14, 1985)

      The photos are connected to the TWA Hijacking — it’s mentioned by the writer that US navy airman Robert Stethem (name mispelled in the article) was tortured and murdered, his body thrown on the tarmac from that plane. The photos are from the ‘press conference’ the hijackers arranged and seated at the table are American hostages including pilot John Testrake (with white hair) and seated to his right (i think) is a young Nabih Berri (head of another Lebanese militia, Amal, and now a parliamentarian in Lebanon) with members of Hebollah as well as Islamic Jihad present.

      The author states the guy whose face is in the red circle is a young Nuri Al Maliki.

      The article ends with the writer expressing his desire to warn members of Congress and asking how can someone who has taken actions against the Iraqi people and against the assistance from the US in independence, freedom, and progress and other things be supported by the US and President Bush?

      06/19/14 12:43 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      6

      Kyzl said:

      “Al Maliki worked with Mohtashami and Sheikh Mohamed Abdel Halim Zuhairi and Imad Jawad Mughniyah (later killed), and Ali al-Moussawi in setting up Islamic Jihad, which participated in the bombings of the US and French embassies in Beirut as well as the infamous hijacking of the TWA flight (June 14, 1985)”
      (snip)
      “The author states the guy whose face is in the red circle is a young Nuri Al Maliki.”

      Holy mother of jihad. No one can tell me the CIA didn’t know about this. That’s impossible. Either that..or they are as inept as the OSS was. I don’t remember the background how the USG picked this guy to run the Iraqi government, but you can bet your sweet bippy, it had to do with a shitload of money going in someones pocket. But if this is the truth, some peoples heads in WDC should be exploding about now if this get’s out.

      “The article ends with the writer expressing his desire to warn members of Congress and asking HOW can someone who has taken actions against the Iraqi people and against the assistance from the US in independence, freedom, and progress and other things be supported by the US and President Bush?”

      Money, that’s how. It’s ALWAYS about money.

      But yeah, if this is true, and this info gets out to the US public, I have $1k that says there’s some people in the US that are gonna be really pissed off. Like family members of victims of the Embassy bombings perhaps???

      Thanks for the translation Kyzl.

      06/19/14 10:11 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      7

      ps..just to make it a little easier…

      http://www.hanein.info/vb/image/imgcache/2014/03/1.imgcache

      http://www.hanein.info/vb/image/imgcache/2014/03/2.imgcache

      Amazing what you can find on sites that most Americans will never see..

      06/19/14 11:56 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      8

      “Amazing what you can find on sites that most Americans will never see.”

      http://betabeat.com/2014/06/crowdfunded-electronic-blowjob-machine-is-now-available-for-pre-order/

      The MSM fears it will take its place.

      06/19/14 12:17 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      9

      quote”The MSM fears it will take its place.”unquote

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      priceless.

      I’ve seen everything now. At first, I thought this was an Onion satire. Un unh. Unbelievable.

      06/19/14 2:46 PM | Comment Link

    • meloveconsullongtime said...

      10

      And who is winning the new Cold War between American and RUSSIA?

      Alla Onischenko Schlate! (Special friend of the US State Department in Russia):

      “My name is Alla O. Schlate. ‘Alla’ – is the name that I’ve had since my first breath; ‘O’ stands for my Ukrainian parents’ name, Onishchenko (aren’t you happy that I don’t make you actually say it!); and ‘Schlate’ is my husband’s name I’ve used since I came to this country about five years ago. By now, you may have guessed that I’m particular about names; and words in general; as I believe they are the evanescent reflections of the deep hidden thoughts and images; and sometimes, it takes lives to match the two to create a meaning…”

      https://norwalk.digication.com/allaoschlate/Welcome/published

      06/19/14 5:11 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      11

      quote”The MSM fears it will take its place.”unquote

      Whores fear the MSM will take its place.

      http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/gallup-public-confidence-tv-news-all-time-low

      06/20/14 10:34 AM | Comment Link

    • Kylz Orda said...

      12

      Dear MLCLT – no the Allas of this world are not winning, they are just ‘there’

      06/20/14 5:05 PM | Comment Link

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