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American/Iran Power Struggle over Iraq

By       Message Nicola Nasser     Permalink
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U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill's warning on February 18 that it could take months to form a new government in Baghdad after the Iraqi elections, scheduled for March 7, and that this could mean considerable political turmoil in Iraq, and the warnings of observers and experts as well as officials against the looming specter of a renewed sectarian war in the country, indicate that security, stability, let alone democracy, and a successful "victorious" withdrawal of American troops from Iraq have all yet a long way to go. A secure, stable and democratic Iraq will have first to wait for an end to the raging power struggle over Iraq between the United States and Iran inside and outside the occupied Arab country.

The Associated Press quoted Hill as predicting "some tough days, violent days as well, some intemperate days" ahead of the March 7 vote. The warnings raise serious questions about U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's statement a few days ago calling Iraq the "great achievement" for the Obama Administration. Neither Biden nor President Barak Obama are able yet to declare that the United States has won victory in Iraq. In 2007, both men advised the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, but former President George W. Bush opted instead for the military "surge," which the Obama Administration is now "responsibly" drawing down. However, neither the surge nor the drawdown have produced their declared aim, a secure democracy; instead a pro-Iran sectarian regime is evolving.

The upcoming Iraqi elections, scheduled for March 7, have already embroiled the two major American and Iranian beneficiaries of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in an open power struggle that neither party can contain within the limits of the tacit understanding on security coordination - formalized through dozens of public and behind-the-scenes "dialogue" meetings in Baghdad between U.S. ambassadors Ryan Crocker, Zalmay Khalilzad, and their Iranian counterparts. This open power struggle indicates as well that the honeymoon of bilateral security coordination in Iraq is either over, or about to be - a very bad omen for the Iraqi people.

Despite trumpeting the drums of war, the Barack Obama administration is still on record committed to what Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, described in the Saudi capital Riyadh on February 15, as the "dual track approach" of simultaneously massing for war and diplomacy. This was given teeth by building an international consensus on anti-Iran sanctions under the umbrella of the United Nations. Washington is also restraining a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran and postponing its positive response to Israeli insistent demand for war. The fact that the U.S. military in Iraq are capable of confronting the Iranian militias and intelligence networks inside Iraq, but choosing not to do so yet, are all indicators that Washington is still eying a power sharing arrangement with Iran in Iraq.

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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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