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Are Tehran and Washington in collusion or in collision in Baghdad

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No more than in Iraq these fears are given concrete justifications. The sectarian basis of Iran's support or non-support of the mushrooming more than 120 Iraqi political factions is antagonizing not only the Baathists but also all the other pan-Arab Iraqi opponents of the Baath regime, and is bloodily pushing the country to the brink of a civil war that in addition to the Iraqi people only the Iraqi pan-Arabs are left to fend off and defend Iraq's national unity, as the antithesis of the post-U.S. invasion status quo.

The sectarian divide is the only approach to enable Tehran to gain influence on the ground; it is the pretext the U.S. repeatedly cites to keep its occupation forces as the arbiter in the country; the Israeli Jewish state which bases its statehood on a purely religious identity foment it for high strategic stakes to prevent an influential Arab country from regaining its statehood; the U.S. and Iran-backed Kurdish separatists see it as a prerequisite to fend off the Arab majority from curbing their autonomous status and their aspirations for independence; and the sectarian-based militias and their leaders will have no other grounds for any power base without it.

Regional and world repercussions are too obvious to ignore. "Grim forecasts are already circulating at the CIA. They predict that the blood feud between the Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites could spill over into Iran and Saudi Arabia. This could prompt a fratricidal Islamic war that would endanger the whole world's oil supply."(4)

The "excellent" bilateral ties hailed by Ahmadinejad during al-Maliki's visit, his pledges to "completely support the Iraqi government and parliament" and his promise that "Iran will provide assistance to the Iraqi government to establish full security" (1) should have been more than gratefully welcome statements were they not extended to a government that was engineered, sustained, protected and still commanded by the generals of the U.S.-led occupation army.

Ahmadinejad's statements on Iraq's "security" boils down under scrutiny to securing the government of the U.S.-led occupation.

The more than 10 million Iraqis who were mobilized by sectarian and ethnic incitement to vote this government into power in elections financed, protected and given legitimacy by the occupying power is a fact that nonetheless does not legitimize an illegitimate status quo that the Iranian leader promises to secure.

Ahmadinejad can help al-Malki to develop his government into a representative of a truly independent Iraq by empowering this government against the foreign occupation, which requires a U turn in Iran's strategy vis-Ã-vis Iraq during the past fifty years. But his and al-Malki's seems a completely different agendas.

Al-Maliki came to power on a security three-pronged agenda: Fighting "terrorism," dissolving militias and national reconciliation.
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Iran, al-Maliki's government and its predecessors, and the U.S. occupying power are and were always keen to confuse the Iraqi resistance with a minority of foreign-linked or foreign fighters whom they accuse of fomenting sectarian violence and "terrorism" in Iraq.

Al-Maliki reportedly demanded that Iran secure its side of Iraq's longest borders against the infiltration of those al-Qaeda-linked fighters and arms, and certainly Ahmadinejad could and might deliver on this.

He also might but so far could not deliver on al-Maliki's second demand to fight the Iraqi national and Islamic armed resistance, which al-Maliki condemns as "terrorists."

This ever growing resistance is the major threat to al-Malki's government, which his Iranian host pledged to secure, and it is also the same threat to the foreign occupation.

It was noteworthy that Ahmadinejad did not publicly condemn this resistance, but he neither voiced his support nor called on Iraqi "friends" to join or support it. Tehran is still officially subscribing to the so-called U.S.-adopted "political process" to engineer a pro-Washington regime in Baghdad.
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Ahmadinejad could also deliver on the second item of al-Maliki's agenda, i.e. dissolving the militias, all sixteen of them are sectarian militias; His silence on al-Maliki's demand to dissolve the militias was noteworthy; but to do so goes against Iran's regional strategy, especially in Iraq.

The sectarian approach is the only guarantee for Iran to maintain any credible influence on the ground in Iraq, as Iran's alliance with the Kurds in the north, especially during the 1980-88 war with Iraq, was always pragmatic and compromised by the presence of a large Kurdish minority in Iran itself with the same national aspirations like their brethren in Iraq.

How could Tehran agree to dissolving the militias it sponsored, financed, armed and used as a "fifth column" during the eight-year war with Iraq and prepared, alongside the similarly sponsored Kurdish Peshmerga in northern Iraq, to continue the U.S. inconclusive war, which evacuated Iraqi troops from Kuwait in 1991, to topple the Saddam-Hussein-led Baath regime in Baghdad.

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*Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

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Many of us think Usama Bin Laden is also a partner... by Rob Kall on Friday, Sep 15, 2006 at 7:46:57 PM