Saturday, May 19, 2007

Stratfor Says a US/Iran Deal Over Iraq in Works

Stratfor, a company whose Middle East analysis I often find mistaken but sometimes find insightful, believes the SCIRI-SIIC realignment is part of a deal between the US and Iran shepherding an orderly US retreat leaving an Iraq that is dominated by the Shiites and friendly with Iran. (And which benefits the Sunnis mostly at the expense of the Kurds.)

One data point in Stratfor's analysis is Abbas Araghchi's statement earlier this month that Iran was willing to help the US produce an honorable and face-saving retreat.

It is an interesting theory that may have some basis.

Stratfor is better at reporting US views and motives than those of non- or anti-Western actors. So this article is interesting in that it claims the US accepts that Iraq will not be a pro-US bastion in the Middle East, and is willing to negotiate with Iran exactly how antagonistic Iraq will end up being towards US policies.

The US position is that hopefully a formula will be found that Iraq will not pose a threat to Iran (a major concession) but it will also not pose a threat to Jordan or Israel. The US also seems to be willing to side against the Kurds to prevent Iraq from breaking up. These changes in US policy are very significant if they are real.

If these changes are implemented in time, they just may be enough to prevent the tremendous disaster for the US that is otherwise inevitable in this region.

Stratfor is connected enough into the US foreign policy community that this may well reflect US thinking, then this is a major step in the direction of US policy becoming cognizant of and responsive to the actual conditions in the region.

Stratfor's analysis that Iran will accept a long-term US presence in Iraq as long as it is not in the cities I find much less reliable. I think that is closer to what the US hopes Iran will accept.

For the time being, it is possible to read the subscription-only article though an agreement stratfor apparently has with google news.

Here is a google link.
Here is a link direct to stratfor.

Iran's main Iraqi Shiite proxy announced May 11 it is about to undergo a process of "Iraqization." The move is part of Tehran's detailed offer to assist the United States in stabilizing Iraq. A fresh power-sharing agreement likely will emerge out of this process -- one that will lead to an increase in the Sunni share of the Iraqi political pie, but could upset the Kurds.


Ziad said...

I've read about such a detente in a number of sites such as prof cutler and moon of Alabama, etc.

The idea is that the U.S. can win over Iran and and the Shiites in southern Iraq and Saudi Arabia into a pro U.S. pro Israel block. This makes perfect sense if Iran is co opted into alliance through regime change, reconciliation with the mullahs (least favored option for the U.S.) or if Iran is broken up by ethnic tension; Persians vs Azeris vs Kurds and so on.

It's gotten to the point where options 1 and 3 are out of the picture so the question is can the U.S. come to terms with an Islamic republic it has despised for 30 years?

Iran's regime would love to improve relations with the U.S. It's been trying to do so since 1997. But, while the U.S. may have no choice but to cut a deal over Iraq, I don't think it could countenance sharing control of the Persian Gulf with an independent power. Once sanctions are lifted, essential to any comprehensive deal, Iran becomes even more powerful and independent.

Take a look at any strategic alliance between the U.S. and country X and you will notice that X = dependent nation
1)Israel depends on the U.S. almost entirely.
2)The U.S. attempts to move its European bases from Germany to Romania and Bulgaria.
3)The kurds in Iraq are the U.S.' closest ally.
4)When Europe talked of an alliance outside NATO during the 90's the Clinton Admin went ballistic.

So the idea that the U.S. can come to terms with a powerful Iran seems far fetched.

Its entirely plausable that tactical agreements will be made with Iran to save U.S. chestnuts in Iraq. But the U.S. policy will likely be containment in the long run.

Arnold Evans said...

The key issue for me is not any detente. It is that the US may be willing to accept

1-that it cannot have a pro-US government in Iraq and

2-that it should stop supporting parties in Iraq that are working towards dissolving the country (even at the cost of giving up its dreams of long-term bases).

I really hope this is the case. I think the US will eventually reach both conclusions but the sooner, the less likely the entire edifice of US Middle East policy is destroyed.

Also the sooner the US reaches both conclusions, the sooner the Iraqi people are freed from the misery the US invasion imposed on them.