« I'm back before you had a chance to miss me | Main | findin it a little hard to concentrate with all the noise »

February 29, 2008



I think we are looking at this the wrong way—Ahmadinejad’s visit is of course welcomed by the U.S.—it represents a major Iranian step toward negotiations with Washington re: Iraq.

Before surge, we would not have seen this step because Iran had little incentive to negotiate with the US. It could simply wait for democrats to take over and the troops to leave, and then fill the vacuum left behind. This would have been easy before the surge, because Iran has good relations with all Shia forces, the U.S.’s only meaningful ally at the time (Sciri) was even closer to Iran, the U.S. had no Sunni partner whatsoever, and the Sunnis lacked a credible, unified political-military front.

But that’s where the picture we see in the al-Hayat article comes in. IAI and other major factions and tribes are cooperating with the U.S., and are apparently working to form a new political front that would be exponentially more powerful on the ground than the al-Hizb al-Islami. And re: the article, I do not see IAI’s Damascus wing having the power to stop movement in this direction—if (former?) IAI’s commanders in the field are working with leadership in Amman and receiving (presumably) substantial Saudi funding, I don’t see what leverage the Damascus wing could possible have to stop the forming of a new political alliance.

The prospect of a powerful Sunni political front, backed by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, is a step towards Iran’s worst case scenario—a return of unfriendly Sunni leadership to Baghdad. Thus Iran finally has a reason to bargain with Washington (as opposed to waiting excitedly for us to pick up and leave), and hence Ahmadinejad’s visit. Whatever one’s opinion on lasting effects of the surge, it is difficult to deny the success it has had in gaining leverage over Tehran.

This paragraph from the al-Hayat piece, I think, is exactly what ّIran has been wary of since the beginning of the Awakenings:

فهناك تيار واسع داخل «الصحوات» والفصائل المسلّحة يسعى إلى بناء كيانات سياسية جديدة تمثل الصحوات والفصائل المسلحة، وهي قفزة نوعية جديدة، بعد تشكيل «المجلس السياسي للمقاومة الإسلامية»، باتجاه التخلي عن مقاومة الاحتلال الأميركي والتركيز على مصالح السنة العراقيين في مواجهة ما يعتبره أبو عزام نفوذاً إيرانياً متضخّماً. وقد مضى هذا التيار خطوات في بناء الكيان السياسي المطلوب، وهناك حوارات داخل الفصائل المسلحة المرتبطة به (الجيش الإسلامي وجيش الفاتحين والهيئة الشرعية لأنصار السنة وجيش المجاهدين

Mark Pyruz

In the past, there have been a number of diplomatic exchanges between Iran and Iraq, some of them even involving signed agreements on such sensitive matters as Iraqi security. Some of this embarrassed the United States. Also, there were times when Maliki and Talibani flew to Tehran, in what outwardly appeared to be attempts at leveraging themselves against the Americans by means of Iran. Now its Ahmadinejad's turn. The visit is rich with symbolism. The former Pasdaran soldier turned President will visit Baghdad, then tour the holy cities, personally fulfilling a war aim of the Imposed War (1980-1988).

Sure, this visit is supported by the US as it seeks improvements in the political spectrum that comprises Iraq. And true, Sunni elements have been afforded a more favored status by the United States. But really, what does Iran have to lose with this visit? At the very least, it provides an opportunity for Ahmadinejad to gain a major PR victory to take back home, mere weeks before Iranian parliamentary elections.

Saeed Uri

What Arab leaders have visited Baghdad?
Everything Mr Ahmedinijed does is aimed at the Arab populations. He is probably trying to show that he is not all high and mighty like the other Arab leaders and will goto Baghdad and visit war torn Iraq.

I don't think that Iran is in a weak position with the Awakenings. hardcore Sunnis and Baathist are people that Iran will never be able to impress nor would it try.

I am hoping Damascus secretly invited Ahmedinijed to the the Arab League. That would be dreamy:)


Love the hip hop headlines, keep’em coming, though I suspect it maybe lost on some of your audience.

Ooooh, Conspiracies, I think it is as simple as the Iraqi Gov’t getting even with the U.S. for empowering the Awakening Sheiks, so the Shiite dominated Gov’t is playing poker, “I see your bet and raise you one”.

“Can’t even rep Q.B., you ain’t got hood stripes”


"Theres no more room for jealousy, we destroying and rebuilding / That means the cowards get out / National reconciliation has succeeded to general bafflement"

Happy days.

Olu Dara

I think the point is that Professor Aardvark wants to show both the initiates and his fellow observers that he respects the street, in Amman, Cairo, or LIC. And he does a pretty good job of it. There's a difference between watching people and engaging them, and that difference is qualitative and quantitative (you could even say they're the same thing.)
There's no such thing as a neutral observer but Poli Sci and IR junkies are paid to pretend otherwise.
There's no moral responsibility without moral ambiguity.
I know a few dudes... etc.


There are some things that are so simply implicit, that if you have to explain it, the point is lost.

seth edenbaum

The point is not lost, just the pleasure of secrecy and esoteric knowledge.
There are plenty of people, even readers on this site, who wouldn't understand the point at all. And given the ubiquity of their logic in the political culture of this country, it needs to be made explicit, if not by ML then by others. I have no interest in hijacking the thread so I'll end this here.


The President of Iran makes an historic visit to the new democratic Iraq where he is greeted by the Kurdish president and they conduct a press conference with the free Iraq media. How did Al Jazeera translate this turn of events to the rest of the Arab world?


your right


Incoherence in our dealings with Iran is only one of the causes for the high costs of this adventure.


nur al-cubicle

What a pretzel-choker for Dubya. Heh.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Blog powered by Typepad