October 4, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 3270

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Editor: America Is Letting Iran Take Over Iraq

October 4, 2010
Iraq, Iran | Special Dispatch No. 3270

In an October 3, 2010 article, the editor of the Saudi London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Tariq Alhomayed, wrote that America is conspiring with Iran, and letting it interfere in Iraq in return for Iranian cooperation with the West on the nuclear issue. He stated that this may lead to the destruction of the political process in Iraq, and even to the return of the Ba'ath regime.

Following are excerpts from the article, published in the daily's English edition:[1]

The Belief that the U.S. has Sold Out Iraq is Widespread Among the Iraqi Elite

"There is a belief amongst many of the Iraqi elite, and also among other Arab politicians, intellectuals and journalists, that the U.S. is conspiring with the Iranians on the issue of Iraq, and that there is a plot to divide the region. The allegation is that America is concluding a deal with Iran: Tehran will cooperate with America and the West on the subject of its nuclear program, and in exchange, it will be allowed to intervene politically in Iraq – [a deal that has] already been offered by the Iranians to the West, in particularly to the Americans. According to those skeptical of U.S. intentions, this is why Washington does not see any harm in Nouri Al-Maliki serving another term [as president], at the expense of other Iraqi elements. This skepticism deserves to be analyzed, if only for the fact that it has spread like wildfire amongst the Iraqi elite, who generally do not believe in conspiracy theories, and mostly advocate rationality regarding relations with the West.

"An Iraqi living in Washington who is familiar with the decision-making circles there tells me that [many of] those who are closely involved with the Iraqi issue, and specifically within Vice President Joe Biden's team, are of Kurdish origin. Therefore, how can they not know the region, and what is going on there? The source, although not a supporter of conspiracy theories, added that picture has rapidly become clear: The Americans will hand Iraq over to the Iranians, who do not want Iraq to return to former cultural, political and economic status. Instead, they want to remove independent Iraqi decision-making and free will. As a senior Arab official told me: 'Am I to believe what is said, while ignoring what is happening on the ground?'"

"Washington's Fatal Mistake was to Accept Iranian Interference, and to Regard It as Inevitable"

"It is difficult to believe in conspiracy theories. However, what is happening in Iraq today is very serious, with half of the Iraqi population marginalized or absent [from the political domain], leaving Iraq in the hands of the Iranians, to form the [Iraqi] government as they please. This suggests a fatal mistake on the part of the Americans, even if one assumes that their intentions are sincere. Washington's fatal mistake was to accept Iranian interference, and to regard it as inevitable. This has helped to legitimize sectarian conflict in the region. If a country as small as Lebanon can cause a headache in the region for America and the West, then what about Iraq, considering its size, its role [in the region] and its potential?

"If Nouri al-Maliki is nominated for a second term in office, this will spell the destruction of the Iraqi political system, which is already fragile. It will also mean an end to any credibility of the entire political process, [because] every sect in Iraq will shelter under its respective authorities, to ensure its survival. But most seriously of all, life would return to what it was under the now-disbanded Iraqi Ba'th party. Do not forget that the army of Saddam Hussein's former regime consisted of over half a million fighters. [I] ask the Americans: where are these men now? Are they guaranteed not to return again?

"In my opinion, the matter here is simply American ignorance regarding the consequences of [America's] actions. This issue will have numerous repercussions in the region. Washington has made big mistakes, not least in its occupation of Iraq, and in allowing Iran to influence the formation of the Iraqi government... These mistakes mean there is no stability in Iraq, and also that we are now on the verge of a bitter sectarian conflict in our region.

"Thus... the question is: Will Washington support the plan to export Khomeini's Iranian revolution to our region?"

[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), October 3, 2010. The text has been edited for clarity.

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