There will come a time, and that may be right now, when Washington has to decide if any deal on Iran nuclear programs is more important than the risk faced from ISIS in Iraq. So far it looks like we have the priorities wrong.
Iran is blatantly intruding on the future of Iraq according to some members of parliament. Iran is said to be blocking candidates for Prime Minister that are any less dogmatic and sectarian than Maliki. Iran’s actions, unless countered, will assure that Iraqi Sunnis continue to see no hope in the central government. Iran’s role in Iraq must be confronted forcefully, now. (There should be no hope of relaxing sanctions if they don’t back off in Iraq.)
If Washington continues to dither, Sunnis will never be persuaded to fight ISIS. Without the Sunnis taking on ISIS, these radicals will occupy and rule a large portion of Iraq (or as some call it, “Syraq” as it now includes a good piece of Syria. This is a clear and present danger as they say.
If playing hardball with Iran over Iraq causes Tehran to back away from the nuclear talks, so be it. Iranian commitment to forsaking a nuclear weapon is dubious in any case.
Of course, it may be that Washington has taken a concerted decision to link its future to Tehran. This would be astonishing, but certainly that’s how some Gulf States interpret US actions. We have conceded points (i.e. enrichment of uranium) to Iran with their nuclear program that we did steadfastly refused to permit the UAE with there, truly peaceful nuclear energy program. Moreover, the US is now viewed as tolerating and even encouraging the Iran dominance in Iraq. And, add to that, just this week an Assistant Secretary of State who has long publicly opposed the regime in Bahrain, met with Shia opposition members in Bahrain in a direct snub to the government. They Bahrain government (host to the US Navy fleet headquarter for the Gulf) threw him out of the country.
There are a lot of long-term allies in the region who see this as a concerted series of steps to align the US with the Shia generally and Tehran particularly.
I suspect these steps by the US were without any plan, but simply incoherent reactions to surprises that caught decision-makers off guard. However, it is very difficult to convince leaders in other countries that the US is not pursuing some strategy—at their expense.
Hello? Washington? Does someone have a strategy in there? Just wondering, but it looks from the outside like things are out of control. Or worse, we are aligning with Iran because we have changed, not Iran.