Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Iran and Iraq

Arnaud De Borchgrave, UPI Editor at Large, is reporting some interesting things lately.  Here is a short summary:


Ever since the Iraqi election in March, which did not result in either of the rivals receiving enough votes to govern alone, discussions of forming a coalition government have gone nowhere.  This weakness combined with the reduction in US troops has resulted in a power vacuum in Iraq.  Iran is filling it.  Iran has always provided munitions to the insurgents.  Now they effectively control certain sections of the country.

One recent sign or Iraq falling into the Iranian sphere of influence is the long lines of trucks shipping refined gasoline into Iran from Iraq.  Iran has oil, but little refining capability, so they must import most of their gasoline.  With the US and European trade sanctions, they really needed to find a new source of supply.  No one is stopping the shipments.  There appears to be a sub-rosa deal in place.

 Long lines of trucks shipping gasoline from Iraq to Iran

Another sign is that suicide bombers are ramping up their activities in Iraq to promote sectarian violence.  And when Joe Biden flew into Baghdad over the Fourth of July to plead that the Iraqis form a government, he was saluted by five mortar rounds landing in the "Green Zone" with loudspeakers blaring "duck and cover".

With Saddam Husein in power, Iran had a enemy that kept them in check.  With Saddam gone, and the US on the way out, Iran already has more influence in Iraq than we do.

On the nuke front, M. De Borchgrave shows that Obama and company were planning to just accept the fact that Iran will have nuclear weapons -- but the Arab states in the region, and Israel of course are pushing hard for a strike.

Such a war could be very costly. M. De Borchgrave says:

...Iran has formidable asymmetrical retaliatory capabilities, from the narrow Straits of Hormuz that still handles 25 percent of the world's oil traffic; to Bahrain (U.S. Fifth Fleet headquarters where the population is two-thirds Shiite and the royal family Sunni); to Dubai, where some 400,000 Iranians reside, many of them "sleeper agents" or favorable to Tehran; to Qatar, now the world's richest country with per capita income at $78,000, which supplies the United States with the world's longest runway and sub-headquarters for CENTCOM, and whose LNG facilities are within short missile range of Iran's coastal batteries; to Saudi Arabia's Ras Tanura, the world's largest oil terminal, and Abqaiq, nerve center of Saudi's eastern oilfields) all are vulnerable to Iranian sabotage or hundreds of Iranian missiles on the eastern side of the Gulf, from southern Iraq down to the Strait of Hormuz.

Officially, all the Arab rulers of the Persian Gulf and other Arab leaders are strenuously opposed to any Israeli or U.S. airstrikes against Iran's nuclear facilities. But that opposition is eroding rapidly.

Speaking at the Aspen Institute in Colorado last week, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the United States Yousef al-Otaiba said publicly -- before denying it -- "I think despite the large amount of trade we do with Iran, which is close to $12 billion, there will be consequences, there will be a backlash and there will be problems with people protesting and rioting and very unhappy that there is an outside force attacking a Muslim country; that is going to happen no matter what."

And he added, "If you are asking me, 'Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran, my answer is still the same -- 'We cannot live with a nuclear Iran.'"
An attack on Iran would also divert the American public from the failures in Afghanistan.  De Borchgrave suggests that Obama may attack Iran in order to retain both houses of Congress in November.

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