Saturday, August 05, 2017

Peace in Iraq Does Not Go Through Sadr

This article says that America and Saudi Arabia will work to reduce Iranian influence in Iraq:

As Iraqis celebrate Mosul’s liberation from the Islamic State (ISIS or IS), their country’s future is anything but certain. Although it is premature to conclude that the fight against IS in Iraq is over, the Trump administration’s approach to Iraq is likely to focus more on countering Iran’s influence in the Shi’ite-majority Arab country. Saudi Arabia will support Trump in this. Until recently, Riyadh avoided engaging the Shi’ite leadership in Baghdad based on the view that the post-2003 political order in Iraq has been entirely under Tehran’s thumb. Last month’s rare visit to Riyadh of Muqtada al-Sadr, a prominent Iraqi Shi’ite cleric who has called for the disbanding of Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, signaled how the kingdom too has a heightened interest in attempting to bring Iraq farther away from the Islamic Republic’s orbit of influence.

That's good. But the prominence of Moqtada al-Sadr as the apparent focus of Saudi outreach to Iraq is dangerous given that I believe that three-time insurrectionist and one-time (Really?) Iranian sock puppet is a danger to American interests in Iraq.

The Saudis were wrong to stiff-arm the Iraqis after the overthrow of Saddam and I wrote that it was a mistake not to pull Iraq into the Arab fold over the Sunni-Shia divide rather than let Iran pull Iraq into the Shia fold over the Arab-Persian divide.

I thought the Arab world finally made that choice in 2007; I hoped the Iran threat would prompt that confrontation with reality; and I cheered a belated outreach in 2015. Yet still Iran burrows into Iraq. Because the Arab world has not been diligent in cultivating pan-Arab solidarity in the face of Iranian threats.

But Sadr is no avenue for peace in a belated pan-Arab outreach.

I do not believe Sadr will do anything but deliver Iraq to the pro-Iran forces that threaten democracy in Iraq.