Iran-Iraq Tensions Rise (Again?)

I could be writing about the war that Saddam started back in the 80’s with his neighbor, Iran.

In case you are still a thumb sucker let me help you out……

Those were the bad old days…..recently Iraq held an election an a Shia cleric won the position of Prime Minister……in doing so you would think that he would have a soft spot in his heart for Shia Iran and vice versa…..well maybe time to think again…..the now PM has stated that he will join in the sanctions on Iran…..

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Aug. 7 that Iraq will abide by US sanctions on Iran to protect Iraq’s own interests. Abadi spokesman Saad al-Hadithi confirmed Aug. 13 that Iraq will not violate US sanctions on Iran and that “Iraq’s stance toward the US sanctions imposed on Iran stems from the general interest of Iraq, and was not impetuous or hasty, but was subjected to study, and was not affected by the positions of other states or political parties.”

After Iraq said it would abide by US sanctions, several Iranian officials raised their voices against Iraq, calling it traitorous and demanding the country pay compensation for damages caused in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War that took place under Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was executed in 2006.

Now with that said will the same insistence be held once the new PM takes the reigns of power?
Keep in mind that any hostilities could put the American troops in the middle of a conflict.  Something this country does not need…..we have enough wars being juggled by Pentagon and Our Dear Leader.
Advertisements

How About Iraq?

Since the country and its problems have not been in the news most Americans seem to forget that we are still fighting and our troops are still on multiple deployments in our second longest war…..

Iraq recently had an election (democracy at work?) and America’s one time adversary al-Sadr won the position of prime minister and in the process of forming a government……

There are a few readings about the uphill fight he will have witn a government……

https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iraq/188-iraqs-paramilitary-groups-challenge-rebuilding-functioning-state

https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iraq/b61-how-cope-iraqs-summer-brushfire

With that and the situation……the fighting has not ceased……no?  Then what about ISIS?

Glad you asked!

Dozens of people have been killed in a series of attacks launched by Islamic State (IS) in locations north of Baghdad over the past few months, prompting fears that the terrorist group is reconstituting itself in parts of Iraq (al-Hadath, March 28; al-Sumaria, July 1).

IS has lost all of its urban strongholds in Iraq, including Mosul, which it occupied in June 2014 and which was reclaimed by Iraqi forces last year with significant U.S. support. However, the recent surge in IS activity indicates that the group is now pursuing its old hit-and-run tactics in Iraq, and serves to illustrate how IS could exploit the divisions that remain among Iraqi factions.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/07/31/is_islamic_state_making_plans_for_a_comeback_in_iraq_113670.html

They, ISIS, is NOT gone and it is NOT forgotten……

The Iraqi government’s declaration of “victory” over ISIS may have marked the end of the group holding any real territory, but the end of the Caliphate was never going to be the end of ISIS. Unsurprisingly, the group is looking to make a comeback.

No longer a territory-holding faction trying to operate as a mini-state, ISIS is going back to its guerilla tactics that they used before they were able to take territory. Iraq is experiencing a rise in kidnappings and targeted killings.

ISIS is using the kidnappings as a way to raise money, and the killings as a way to undermine security. This was a common tactic for ISIS for years, and one the Iraqi government has never been able to effectively combat.

(antiwar.com)

Keep in mind that ISIS is still a force that will be handled and the US will have to continue to deal with this murderous group…..we can only hope that Iraq will step up and do what is necessary so that our overworked troops can come home.

After Note:  Another day with my doctors……so there may not be as much posted today as usual….never fear I am still hanging in there and will get back to it as soon as possible…..chuq

Meanwhile Back In The Middle East

My area of some little amount of expertise has been ignored because of all the situations that have turned in the Koreas….look for Iran to come into focus soon….they have neutralized North Korea (for now) and the interventionists need a foe to focus on and the most logical one is Iran.

The deal that Trump pulled out of because it was made by Obama will now have his art of the deal to fall back on and get that better deal (or go to war)……

Iran is claiming to be the protector of the world’s Shia population……but is it?

Iran’s contemporary foreign policy approach is shaped by a worldview introduced by the 1979 Islamic revolution.

  • Iran’s hardline Shia regime rode a tidal wave of popular support into power during the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Mass demonstrations in February 1979 led to the fall of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the former Iran leader known as the Shah, and the return of exiled cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who claimed the title of Supreme Leader in December 1979 and served in that capacity until his death in June 1989.
  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei succeeded Khomeini as Iran’s Supreme Leader in June 1989 and has since served as the country’s most powerful figure.
  • Other key figures in the Iranian regime include President Hassan Rouhani, who was reelected to a second four-year term in May after campaigning on the success of the Iran nuclear agreement. In addition, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal and Maj. Gen. Qasem Soulemani is the head of the elite Quds Force, which operates as the external wing of Iran’s ideologically driven, preeminent paramilitary force known as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or the “guardians” of the revolution.

https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/irans-hegemonic-quest

Iran is more active in the Iraqi situation, the domestic side, it is backing alliances for the control of the country…..

Iraq may form a government that undermines U.S. interests, tries to eject the U.S. from the region, and supports Iran. Nationalist Iraqi Shi’a cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has allied with Hadi al-Ameri, the leader of the coalition of Iranian-backed militias and their political wings. Sadr and Ameri lead the two winningest alliances in Iraq’s federal legislative elections and are nearing the 165-seat threshold necessary to form a government if Shi’a cleric Ammar al-Hakim (19 seats) and secularist Ayad Allawi (21 seats) follow through on their previously announced intention to ally with Sadr.

Sadr and Ameri will likely attempt to woo current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi or former Prime Minister and current Vice President Nouri al-Maliki to gain support of one of their coalitions, or alternatively seek to fragment both leaders’ respective coalitions to form a government. They may also seek to gain support from some or all Kurdish parties and Iran friendly Sunni parties in order to reach the government formation threshold. Both Sadr and Ameri may push for the full expulsion of U.S. forces from Iraq and will further the entrenchment of Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces in the Iraqi security apparatus.

Sadr’s militias fought the US tooth and nail for control…..and now he has it through the vote.

All this and Iran’s influence in OPEC will give the interventionists like John Bolton all the ammo they need to ramp up the rhetoric for war with Iran.

He, Trump, should have left the nuke deal in place but his jealousy of Obama would not allow that to occur…..I do not think his love for dictators will play well when dealing with Iran….but I could be mistaken….even dictators like to have their ego stroked.

 

Populism And The World

The catch word that was batted around during the 2016 elections was populism and according to the MSM  the win by Trump meant that it was on the rise in the US……and tide that could not be stopped….well according to the d/bag Bannon.

Then there is Europe and the rising tide of populism or of right wing politics…some even see that the rise of it in Hungary and Italy among others could signal the end of the EU…..

The newly-installed US ambassador to Germany, Richard (Ric) Grenell, is at the center of a Trumped-up “controversy,” after having given an interview to Breitbart saying that he’s looking forward to encouraging beleaguered European conservatives. The NeverTrumpers went wild: neocon Anne Applebaum accused him of being part of a conspiracy on the part of the Trump administration to back “nativist, pro-Russia and anti-pluralist” forces – as opposed to the globalist, neo-liberal, cravenly pro-Washington (as opposed to pro-American) sock puppets we’ve been backing previously. Applebaum was joined by German Communist leader Sarah Wagenknecht, a leader of the far-left wing of the far-left “Die Linke” Party, who demanded that Grenell be expelled from Germany.

https://original.antiwar.com/justin/2018/06/06/populism-and-the-end-of-the-european-union/

Okay Europe is not the only region that has seen a rise in populism…..Iraq and its latest election…..the leader that gave the US so much trouble in the early years of the occupation has now been elected as the new Prime Minister of Iraq……

The worldwide populist revolt toppling conventional politicians in the United States, Europe and even the Philippines has now reached Iraq. Most Westerners still following Iraqi politics assumed that incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s Dawa Party would handily win the parliamentary election, but nope. Dawa came in third. Firebrand cleric Moqtada al Sadr’s Sairun party came in first.

You remember Moqtada al Sadr. He’s the guy who mounted an Iranian-backed Shia insurgency against the United States, the Iraqi government and his Sunni civilian neighbors between 2003 and 2008. He’s a very different person today. He still raises and shakes his fist in the air but today he’s shaking it at crooked elites, and he’s shaking it at his former Iranian patrons.

http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/populist-revolt-reaches-iraq

The rest of this story is waiting to be written…..and it is being written in DC as we speak….but what will it be?

The Democracy That Was Iraq

After 15 years of occupation and several elections that no one wanted the Iraqis have had another election…..this is a good thing because that was what we came to Iraq for …..to give them democracy.

Iraq just held their latest election and to the surprise of the US their greatest critic and opponent of the occupation, Sadr, has won the vote for prime minister.

The pundits have called for a recount (simply because their man did not win)……there is lots of opinion on what will happen…..

Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose political bloc won the May 12 election, is rejecting calls by other factions to hold a re-run of the vote, saying certain factions are trying to start a civil war with all the allegations around the elections.

Sadr warned it was “time to stand as one for building and reconstruction instead of burning ballot boxes or repeating election just for one seat or two.” Some of the re-vote advocates, like the parliament speaker, lost their seats in the election.

The election’s votes were initially counted electronically, and parliament has since called for a full recount. The fire in Baghdad, at one of the ballot warehouses, has fueled even more claims of a cover-up of the results.

(antiwar.com)

Now some are calling for a new election……Abadi is doing the whining and the US is listening….all are worried about a Sadr leadership…..

With Iraqi parliament’s ordered recount at least somewhat derailed by a weekend fire at one of the ballot warehouses in Baghdad some officials are calling for a revote. A spokesman for PM Hayder Abadi, however, says only the Supreme Court can make that happen.

“This is a matter for the Federal Court and not for the executive branch,” noted Saad al-Hadithi, when asked for Abadi’s comments on the parliamentary speaker’s demand to repeat the vote. It’s not clear how the mechanism for such a re-run would work.

(antiwar.com)

As usual the US promotes democracy until it bites them in the ass….and a Shia backed PM will bite the hardest, especially considering who the new PM is and his history with the US…..

As parliamentarians in Baghdad work to form a new governing coalition in the wake of this month’s elections, their counterparts in Washington are seeking to sanction more than a dozen of the Iraqi legislators over their links to Iran.

The House of Representatives unanimously voted last week on legislation requiring President Donald Trump to sanction “persons that are officials, agents, affiliates of or owned and controlled by” two prominent Iran-backed militias that operate in Iraq and Syria. The amendment from Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, to a must-pass annual defense authorization bill targets Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, both of which are part of the Shiite-led Popular Mobilization Units battling the Islamic State.

Typical US actions…..if you do not like the election results then try to overturn them….Iraq will be no different than Chile.

Closing Thought–18May18

The war torn nation of Iraq has held their most recent election…..I gave my readers a rundown on the what’s what with this vote…..

https://lobotero.com/2018/05/14/democracy-comes-to-iraq/

Back during the dark days of the 2003 invasion and occupation America’s biggest opponent was an Iraqi cleric, al-Sadr…..and with this election he has risen to the top of Iraqi political process…..

Widespread disillusionment with Iraq’s current political class appears to have helped the political coalition of influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr become the early front-runner in national elections marked by record low turnout. Partial returns of the 2018 vote—the first since Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State group—were announced late Sunday by the Iraqi electoral commission and put al-Sadr’s political alliance in the lead in four provinces, including Baghdad. Al-Sadr is a strong Iraqi nationalist—he is critical of any outside influence in the country—and campaigned on a platform that criticized Iraq’s current political leadership as deeply corrupt. He rose to prominence in Iraq after the 2003 US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein when he commanded a militia that fought American troops. He also commanded paramilitary forces in the war against ISIS.

The election came as the country deals with the disenfranchisement of the country’s Sunni minority. Of more than 2 million Iraqis displaced by the war, the majority are Sunnis. Also at issue is the influence of Iran on the country: Iranian-backed Shiite militias who played a key role in defeating ISIS and were allied with the Shiite-led Baghdad government made significant electoral gains. Al-Sadr did not run for a seat in parliament and therefore cannot become prime minister. However, if his alliance wins the most seats, a member of his bloc will be tasked with forming a majority government and will appoint the country’s next prime minister. Despite not holding an official office, al-Sadr exercises strong organizational control over his followers, per the AP.

It will be interesting to see how he plays with the American forces this time around…..this Iraqi institution is very fragile and will be attacked politically from all sides.

Will his government survive?

Democracy Comes To Iraq?

With ISIS on the run Iraq has held a round of election trying to find a truly workable government….

Iraq’s electoral law is a complex and idiosyncratic method of securing proportional representation in Parliament. The system tends to favor the largest parties and solid voting blocs using a process so arcane that virtually no one outside of professional politicians and statisticians really understands how it works.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-05-11/iraq-elections-are-sure-to-leave-a-mess

Since the fall of Saddam Iraq has been suffering from sectarian divide and its politics are the battlefield…..can they move past this?

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shiite, has not limited his campaigning for this week’s elections based on traditional sectarian considerations. He has traveled to predominantly Sunni areas such as Salahuddin province about 100 miles north of Baghdad and Anbar province about 70 miles to the west of the capital. He is the most prominent Shiite leader striving to win votes of residents in areas known for strong sectarianism, areas which the Islamic State (IS) invaded in 2014 as the group ultimately settled in about one-third of the country.

In the predominantly Sunni province of Salahuddin, the list of alliances includes diverse ethnic and sectarian names in which 332 candidates from 15 electoral alliances will compete.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/05/iraq-election-sectarianism-shiite-sunni.html

Iraqis head to the polls on May 12 to elect a new parliament, after which legislators will choose a speaker, president, and prime minister. The elections come at the end of four tough years for Iraq, with the Islamic State seizing a third of the country in 2014 and the Kurds making a strong push for independence last September.

Despite the turmoil, Kurdish-Arab violence has been minimal, and the numerous victors of the war against IS are all hoping to turn their battlefield triumph into votes. Chief among them is Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is seeking reelection and a stronger mandate to govern. The numerous Shia militias who fought IS have formed a political coalition that is expected to do well. Yet the electoral prospects are uncertain for the Kurds, whose independence referendum and subsequent military and political setbacks have diluted the goodwill they gained by fighting IS in the north.

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/iraqs-elections-red-flags-and-opportunities-for-inclusion

With all the past fighting and destruction and past political in-fighting there are some green shoots of democracy creeping into the Iraqi political scene….

In March 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq, and in June 2004, it tendered sovereignty of the country back to the Iraqis. Iraq’s first elections took place in January 2005 with images of purple fingertips marking the milestone, but elections alone do not make a democracy. The record of the U.S. in fostering Iraqi democracy has been mixed, but despite the errors and setbacks, the U.S. still has an important opportunity to support something unusual: a stable, Arab democracy.

One of the early U.S. errors was the 2003 decision to order de-Ba’athification. This meant that nearly anyone that was part of the government during the Saddam Hussein regime lost their jobs. Those in favor of de-Ba’athification argued it was the only way to remove the Hussein-tainted operatives from the levers of power. Hindsight shows that critics of this decision had the better argument. With de-Ba’athification, the security situation in Iraq worsened, and since Ba’athists were largely Sunni, ethnic tensions amongst Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds were exacerbated.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/05/11/green_shoots_of_democracy_in_iraq_113433.html

WE will just have to see how the election turns out….personally as long as there is any sectarian divide democracy will always be a dream on unfulfilled.