Monday, April 12, 2010

Iran reaches out to Iraq's Sunnis

Iraq's Shiites have enough votes to rule the country with very minimal Sunni participation. However, Iraq's Sunnis are very important regionally. Iraq's Sunnis have extensive and increasing connections with Jordan and Syria. It is therefore a matter of strategic importance for Iran that Iraq's Sunnis not see Iran as their enemy.

After Iraq's stabilization as a neutral to friendly country with Iran, Iraq may play an important role in strengthening representative or anti-colonial forces in its neighbors. In many cases, though Iran would not use these terms, the idea of Arab unity and independence from outside control, the founding idea of the Baathist movement when it was born in Syria, will actually coincide with Iran's perception of regional matters. This despite the fact that Baathism is a strictly, and even militantly secular ideology.

Iran calls for a unity government in Iraq. Certainly not one in which the US would retain substantial influence through Iyad Allawi's office, but also not one in which a politician rightly or wrongly perceived to have won overwhelming Sunni support is humiliated.
"None of the successful lists should be pushed aside," Iranian ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qomi told reporters at a press conference in Baghdad.

"We wish to say that the government should be formed from these lists," he said, according to an Arabic translation of his remarks in Farsi.

"It is clear that none of the successful lists can form a government on its own and that requires an agreement among the various lists," he added.

The ambassador rejected accusations that Shiite-dominated Iran was trying to influence its neighbour through its influence with Iraq's Shiite majority community, which won its way to power in the wake of the 2003 overthrow of now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein's Sunni-dominated regime.

"The decision must be an Iraqi one and Iraqis ... will take only advice from others," the Iranian ambassador said.
We're seeing the emergence of the post-US Iraq. A country that the US is no longer actively working to break apart or to guarantee a long-term military presence.

It is interesting that as a country neutral or friendly with Iran, it will be another democratic winner, along with Lebanon's largest vote-getters and the winners of Palestine's last election in Iran's camp of anti-colonial forces in the region. Syria is actually the lone embarrassing exception. Moving Syria towards representative government may, at latest by the time more pressing issues have been resolved, be the next internal priority for that bloc.


Lysander said...

I think I commented some time ago that it really shouldn't matter to Iran who becomes PM, even if it is Allawi. Every lever of power is run by Shiites who are friendly to Iran. Allawi as PM will be just like Saad Hariri in Lebanon, only more so. Hariri was thought to be pro-west and anti-Syria/Iran/Hezbollah. And yet, look at him now.

Allawi, or some other Sunni will have no choice but to do the same.

Arnold Evans said...

I agree. It's just that even Lebanon was a much uglier process than it should have been, and Iraq has more potential for the US - and I agree futilely, ultimately, but I'm not sure the US gets that - to try to interfere with the political process.

This process might come under the shadow of sharply increased Iran/US tension, depending on how serious the US is about trying to hurt Iran's economy with sanctions. There's still a possibility that the US is bluffing, holding out for negotiating room.

If Iran comes to feel under attack, it will not be relaxed or magnanimous in thinking about power in Iraq, but rather will be working to remove every inch of US power there any way it can.

I'm pretty sure about how Iraq will look in three or four years, but I'm not sure about what the process will look like that gets it there.