While we’re rushing to arm Syrian insurgents about whom we know next to nothing, it’s worth checking in on our would-be Arab clients in Iraq to see how they’re doing. Seeing as how America is clearly opposed to the Assad regime’s continued existence, not to mention our long-simmering hostilities with Assad’s ally, Iran, we can only assume that our Iraqi partners are working closely with us to, um…
Just days after the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confronted Baghdad for continuing to grant Iran access to its airspace and said Iraq’s behavior was raising questions about its reliability as a partner.
Speaking to reporters during a previously unannounced trip to Baghdad, Kerry said that he and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had engaged in “a very spirited discussion” on the Iranian flights, which U.S. officials believe are ferrying weapons and fighters intended for the embattled Syrian government.
Kerry said the plane shipments – along with material being trucked across Iraqi territory from Iran to Syria – were helping President Bashar Assad’s regime cling to power by increasing their ability to strike at Syrian rebels and opposition figures demanding Assad’s ouster.
But, uh, some nice Lama says that when we die, on our deathbeds, we will receive total consciousness. So we got that goin’ for us, which is nice.
Somehow it continues to surprise us that when we go around liberating oppressed peoples, they actually act all liberated and shit. Or when we insist that formerly repressive regimes hold elections, the damn people who were being repressed go out and vote for whomever the hell they like, if you can believe that. The thing is, the post-Saddam Iraq and Iran, as two of the largest Shi’ite countries in the world (Iraq has the third or fourth largest proportion of Shi’ites in the world at ~65%, behind Iran, Azerbaijan, and possibly Bahrain; Pakistan and maybe India have more Shi’ites in terms of raw numbers, but their Shi’ite populations are only very small percentages of their total populations), are natural allies. Moreover, the Syrian opposition is largely based in Syria’s Sunni majority, who have been ruled by the Assads, who belong to a minority Shi’ite sect called the Alawites, since 1970. These disaffected Syrian Sunni tribes are almost certainly on good terms with Iraq’s disaffected Sunni (Arab; leave the Kurds out of this) tribes, so the last thing the al-Maliki government wants is a successful Syrian rebellion giving Iraq’s own potential Sunni rebels any wild ideas. There is at least one faction among the Syrian rebels that Professor Juan Cole describes as an “offshoot” of an Iraqi Sunni terrorist group. In other words, there is no compelling reason for Iraq to toe the anti-Assad line for America on Syria and every reason for them to be at cross-purposes with us over this, but try telling that to Secretary Kerry:
Kerry said Iraq’s tacit approval of Iranian overflights left the American people wondering how an ally would undermine U.S. efforts, particularly after the enormous sacrifices made by the United States in liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule.
Hey, guess what? They didn’t ask for our “help,” did they? We offered it, anyway, with the idea that the downtrodden Iraqis would finally be able to chart their own course as a people, which sounds really noble until you realize that by “chart their own course,” American policymakers naturally meant “do whatever the hell we want.” But “self-government” doesn’t work that way! If letting the Iraqis be Free was really our goal, then we ought to damn well recognize that they’re FREE to tell America to go to hell when it suits their needs. As Professor Cole writes:
In 2002 when Dick Cheney was planning the Iraq War and talking about democratization, I pointed out that a democratized Afghanistan and Iraq would be unlikely to do America’s bidding. I.e., democratization (even if phony) as a policy has the stark internal contradiction that Cheney was doing it for the purposes of American dominance, and that is exactly what it could not hope to deliver.