Monday, November 14, 2011

Iran, Iraq military leaders pledge military cooperation, agree to fill void left by the President's US troop withdrawal debacle

Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Joint Forces, General Babaker Zebari called for the expansion of military ties between Tehran and Baghdad during a meeting Sunday with the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards' ground forces, Gen. Mohammad Pakpouron.

Zebari added: “Iran and Iraq are two friendly neighboring countries, which should have very close relations."

Mr. Pakpour responded in kind by saying that Iran would make every effort to help Iraqis build a secure and safe country.

Likewise, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, after meeting with Mr. Zebari, said that "we can have great cooperation against the common enemies of Iran and Iraq in the region and outside the region. This cooperation can be in the fields of security, training, joint maneuver and sharing experiences."

Jafari said that several memorandums of understanding were inked between Iraq and the Revolutionary Guards.

Mr. Zebari's visit, and his subsequent discussions on Iranian/Iraqi military ties, comes on the heels of President Obama's announcement last month that all US forces would be withdrawn from Iraq by year's end and the President's refusal to renegotiate a new status-of-forces agreement that would have left a residual US force in the country to train Iraqi security forces etc.

Clearly, the Iranians are filling the vacuum left in the wake of Obama's ominous and perilous foreign policy debacle.

However, as I noted last week, none of this should come as any surprise, for indeed this was Obama's plan all along.

During the 2008 Presidential debates, Mr. Obama made it perfectly clear that Iran would be tasked with the job of helping to "stabilize" Iran after the US 'occupying' forces withdrew from the country:
After boasting that he would be willing to meet, without precondition, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, Obama went on to say:

"I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them [the aforementioned leaders]. We’ve been talking about Iraq -- one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they’re going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses. They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region."

Hence, according to Obama, as soon as the US military packs its bags, leaves Iraq and tells Iran "that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force" in the country, Iran will then be able to fill the vacuum and help stabilize the country.
And, in a related development, the LA Times reports:
As the last U.S. troops pack up to leave Iraq by the end of next month, Pentagon officials and senior military commanders are warning that Iran will rush to fill a power vacuum created by the American exit unless Washington limits its pullback from the region.

That broad assessment has taken on urgency in recent weeks against a backdrop of new intelligence that indicates the government in Tehran also is aggressively courting proxy forces in Yemen and, according to United Nations nuclear inspectors, is fast approaching the capability to build nuclear weapons.

U.S. intelligence officials say Iranian operatives have provided millions of dollars to leaders of the Houthi tribe, which adheres to an offshoot of Shiite Islam in Yemen's rugged north and has joined an armed uprising by disparate forces against the U.S.-backed government in Sana.In Iraq and other trouble spots, Iran is handing out money and weapons, often in secret, in an effort to expand its clout and stay ahead of the political changes sweeping the region since the start of the "Arab Spring," U.S. officials say.
Related item: "Who Lost Iraq?" by Charles Krauthammer