Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 01, 2008

Back Channel Endgame Collusion?

Barfly anna_missed points to a snippet from Juan Cole:

Sadr spokesman Salah al-Obeidi (al-Ubaydi) in Najaf bitterly attacked Iran, accusing it of seeking to share with the US in influence over Iraq. He pointed to the Iranian's regime's failure to condemn the long-term mutual security agreement being crafted by the Bush administration and the al-Maliki government.

and muses:

With the Sunni resistance temporarily co-opted, the Sadrists branded as "special groups" beholden to Iran, and being the last remaining large group resistance to occupation (& likely to win a major victory in elections), along with the inexplicable abandonment (by Iran) of Sadr - there is reason to believe Iran and the U.S. may have reached some kind of back channel endgame collusion. This of course - because of the non-stop anti-Iranian propaganda currently being employed - is the last thing anybody would expect. Which is a near perfect context, should it actually be true.

Possible? Yes.

Likely? Hmm ...

Posted by b on May 1, 2008 at 14:31 UTC | Permalink

Comments

betrayal is nothing new in the middle east

but in iraq, it is the people who will decide

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 1 2008 14:40 utc | 1

Casus belli?

"a worthless piece of paper"

Iranian oil officials have said previously that they were shifting oil sales out of the dollar into other currencies, but Ghanimifard indicated Wednesday that all of Iran's oil transactions were now conducted in either the euro or yen.

"In Europe, Iran's oil is sold in euros, but both euros and yen are paid for Iranian crude in Asia," said Ghanimifard.

Iran's central bank has also been reducing its foreign reserves denominated in dollars, motivated by the falling value of the greenback and U.S. attempts to make it difficult for Iran to conduct dollar transactions.

U.S. banks are prohibited from conducting business directly with Iran, and many European banks have curbed their dealings with the country over the past year under pressure from Washington.

However, the U.S. has been wary of targeting Iran's oil industry directly, apparently worried that such a move could drive up crude prices that are already at record levels.


Posted by: Hamburger | May 1 2008 15:01 utc | 2

there is reason to believe Iran and the U.S. may have reached some kind of back channel endgame collusion.

it is becoming more and more likely as events unfold. strange bedfellows indeed.

Posted by: annie | May 1 2008 15:26 utc | 3

The muse:

there is reason to believe Iran and the U.S. may have reached some kind of back channel endgame collusion.

I wonder if that "back channel endgame" includes Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas since they are allies in the struggle against American hegemony? What happens to the relations that Russia and China have developed with Iran? Are the Iranians going to expell them and invite American oil companies in to take over like back in the good old days of the Shah?

And what is the end game? Are they partnering up with Iran to go after Al Queda in Iraq? Right now they got Al Queda in Iraq on US state welfare and they have turned the prisons into social rehabilitation centres where they claim to be turning Jihadis into good little republicans. Are they partnering up with America and Israel to go after Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan?

If Iran and the US are partnered against Sadr then why does the Iraqi government have to travel to Iran to talk to him. And if they are partenered with the US why haven't they arrestted Sadr and handed him over to the Americans and why are his followers getting Iranian arms that are killing US troops? Why would Iran want the occupation of its neighbors to become a success given that if the US democracy in the ME project was successful they would have been next in line?

Posted by: Sam | May 1 2008 15:31 utc | 4

If the old man has any influence at all over his son, he'd update the Iranian Embassy Hostage Release and the Iranian Arms Sale Agreements and divide up Iraq to assure Peace in Our Time in the Middle East and the election of John McCain.

Since the Mahdi Militia is now between a rock and a hard place they have no option but to bombard the Green Zone. The Grunts have to destroy Sadr City to stop the attacks. Notice how media talk about the Success of the Surge and Withdrawal of Troops has stopped. They are left with the daily feel good stories about how great Americans are and reporting the number of dead.

Posted by: VietnamVet | May 1 2008 16:28 utc | 5

It is possible to overestimate Iran's influence in Iraq. If the U.S. and Maliki decide to eliminate Sadr, Iran can't dissuade them. With the U.S. now blaming Iran for every IED, the Iranians can't openly support Sadr.

Thus, public statements are a poor guide for understanding what's going on.

Best to base any interpretation of events with these tenets in mind;

1) Iran will always need leverage against the U.S. in Iraq. They are unlikely to give up valuable leverage without a real return.

2) While Iran would like an eventual U.S. withdrawl, it is probably not eager for the U.S. to leave right away...that would mean loss of leverage and an America free to redirect its ire at them.

3) The U.S. needs a fall guy. Someone has to be blamed for Iraq going to hell in a hand basket and it ain't gonna be them. Iran fits the role to a tee. Also, they can't admit there is local resistance to the glorious project of democracy. There has to be outside agitators. AQI is all used up; again, enter Iran.

4) The U.S. does not share. Period. Influence is theirs alone. If they will go to great lengths to block Russian influence in Georgia and Ukraine, what chance of amity is there with Iran in Iraq where the U.S. has invested so much? Temporary tactical agreements are possible, but in the end, there can only be one.

With that in mind, my guess is Iran will covertly aid Sadr as best it can while publicly siding with Maliki...with pro forma reservations about civilian casualties.

Posted by: Lysander | May 1 2008 16:53 utc | 6

badger


Hakim took a phone call from President Bush yesterday afternoon, after receiving a visit from ambassador Crocker and special ambassador Satterfield.
....

Then this morning the New York Times reports that a delegation of senior Dawa and Supreme Council people was sent yesterday to Tehran for talks. The delegation included Hadi al-Ameri, head of the Badr Organization, the military wing of the Supreme council. (Interestingly, the NYT didn't identify Hadi al-Ameri as head of the Badr Organization, merely calling him a "senior member of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a Shiite party in Mr Maliki's coalition.")


So: Bush calls Hakim; Hakim convenes the Shiite coalition; and a delegation including the Badr Organization head is sent to Tehran. And the NYT this morning, leaving out the Bush phone-call and the resulting UIA meeting, spins the events like this: "American officials supported the trip, but portrayed it as the brainchild of Mr Maliki."

con't...

Posted by: annie | May 1 2008 17:24 utc | 7

http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/

A lengthy but critical entry by Nir Rosen found at above website.

Posted by: J | May 1 2008 18:00 utc | 8

I think the people to watch now are the Sunni's, the awakening groups and whats left of the resistance groups, because if they too smell a rat we should see a major shift in their current position. So far they have played along with Maliki's move against Sadr (with some jubilation, I might add), with official (Accord Front) parties providing legitimacy by returning to the government. With the supposed expectation that power will come via elections. All of which from their perspective, should be fine except that if Maliki is willing to go head on against Sadr, in advance of elections, what guarantee could the Sunni factions have that with power consolidated, Maliki would allow them to achieve power via elections - or even to hold elections. Where would they be then?

What should be clear to everyone by now is that Maliki's green zone government has/is evolving into a one party government that now feels confident enough to suppress even its own former allies. Its intelligence/military wing is composed of its former DAWA/Badr militias that are a direct expression of Iranian influence mediated by U.S. military/diplomatic influence at the expense of all Iraqi nationalists interests. Under the current state of affairs, it would be literally IMPOSSIBLE for any other sectarian, secular, or nationalist party or interest to win control (via elections) over the government apparatus as its presently composed.

The U.S. and Iran are working in parallel toward and for a one party government in Iraq. Both think they will have the upper hand when such is achieved.

Posted by: anna missed | May 1 2008 19:50 utc | 9

This is just a curve ball, legacy type move that Persians and Arabs know so well as $$$ gets deposited in Swiss bank accounts. It's the Rice/Bush legacy budget being spent here.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | May 1 2008 20:26 utc | 10

i kinda like to think of it akin to Texas Hold 'em [all puns aside*], and the players still at the table are waiting for the river card to come up...

but, unfortunately, it appears the dealer(s) has/have gone on a smoke break before getting around to collecting final bets; which is "fine in a way" because those bets are still being calculated right now as we speak...(an ongoing process really; and one that can be always be (re)accounted for retrospectively)

all of the above and below of which is purely speculative,
but i'd daresay that around election time is when will see the dealer(s) step back up to the table.

...and oh by the way, the real players have deep pockets and this game could last a few more rounds to say the least.

Posted by: spoon of the stars | May 1 2008 23:10 utc | 11

I think the people to watch now are the Sunni's, the awakening groups and whats left of the resistance groups, because if they too smell a rat we should see a major shift in their current position. So far they have played along with Maliki's move against Sadr (with some jubilation, I might add), with official (Accord Front) parties providing legitimacy by returning to the government.

I don't think so. At least I see no evidence for this. In fact they have been protesting the killing of their fellow Arabs and trying to get into Sadr City to draw attention to what's going on there. There is no reconciliation.

All of which from their perspective, should be fine except that if Maliki is willing to go head on against Sadr, in advance of elections, what guarantee could the Sunni factions have that with power consolidated, Maliki would allow them to achieve power via elections - or even to hold elections. Where would they be then?

Iraqis are killing US troops and US troops are taking out buildings in Baghdad and killing women and children. The troops are ordered to build a wall in Sadr City so they can pen them in like rats in a maze and try to pick them off from air. And the Iraqis don't want no stinking wall and are trying to defend their neighborhoods. I don't think they really give a crap about elections right now.

What should be clear to everyone by now is that Maliki's green zone government has/is evolving into a one party government that now feels confident enough to suppress even its own former allies.

No. What they have become are desparate collaborators that don't want to end up like this:

Al-Maliki said gunmen had killed the nephew of police Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman who has overseen operations in Basra, by hanging him from an electricity pole in Sadr City.

US troop deaths hit 7-month high in Iraq

Posted by: Sam | May 2 2008 0:50 utc | 12

Sam, on point #1, ever since the Basra operation there has been a notable complicity/encouragement by the Sunni factions of the government, and unabashed crowing on the Sunni oriented blogs, with regards to the anti-Sadr initiative. The attempts by the various political factions (Sunnis notably included) to protest the assault on Sadr City is exactly what I meant by "watching the Sunni's". Because if they can crush the JAM without a response, they can then similarly crush any future Sunni attempts at power or even representation within the government. So, they should better respond now to the current provocation, rather than later. Thats the sign I'm looking for.

As far as the suspicion of a broader connection driving these events goes, one can always look back to the Reagan years when another collusion between Iran and the U.S. was revealed buried deep beneath a thick layer of anti-terrorism hogwash. Although I doubt that any cake deliveries are involved this time around.

Posted by: anna missed | May 2 2008 2:09 utc | 13

http://americanfootprints.com/drupal/node/4002>Eric Martin has posted today on a similar scenario (in greater detail).

Posted by: anna missed | May 2 2008 4:50 utc | 14

The U.S. is bombing Sadr-city - and now wants Iraqis to pay for the missiles ...

A new low for U.S. standing in the world:

Senate Panel Moves to Shift Costs of War to Iraq

On a unanimous vote taken late Wednesday night and announced yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved legislation that would prohibit the Defense Department from funding any reconstruction or infrastructure program that costs more than $2 million.

Under the plan, Iraq also would have to pay to train and equip its security forces and provide the salaries of Sunni-dominated "Sons of Iraq" security groups. In addition, the administration would have to negotiate cost-sharing agreements for U.S.-Iraqi joint military operations, with an eye toward Iraq picking up the tab for items such as fuel.

Senators said they would move later this month to expand those provisions and bar any federal agency -- including the State Department -- from financing large-scale Iraqi rebuilding projects.

"The American taxpayers are paying for too many things . . . that the Iraqis ought to pay for out of their surplus," said Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.).
...
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House also is likely to include language that would shift some financial responsibilities to the Iraqi government.


Posted by: b | May 2 2008 5:03 utc | 15

B-15: Well, when Rev Wright spole of American chickens coming home to roost, he was dead wrong. Not because that was disrespectful for the US. It was wrong because 9-11 was a complete joke compared to the true Hell USA would have to pay to even the scales.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | May 2 2008 8:47 utc | 16

Israel would love to upgrade the Haifa refinery

Posted by: Cloned Poster | May 2 2008 12:50 utc | 17

anna missed's link @ 14:

That being said, Iran does have a strong interest in ensuring the same outcome in upcoming elections as that sought by the Bush administration: namely, a big ISCI/Dawa victory and a poor showing by the Sadrists. That's because the Sadrist movement's political agenda/rhetoric (nationalistic, at times anti-Persian and staunchly opposed to the creation of a Shiite super region) is more hindrance than benefit to the Iranians - as opposed to the Sadrists' capacity to field an anti-American militia which can still come in handy.

He assumes that Iran wants to break up Iraq. I disagree becuase Iran opposes Kurdish autonomy for the same reason that Turkey and Syria oppose it. They have large Kurdish populations that would love to break up those countries to join up their terrirory with the new Iraq Kurdistan. This is a direct threat to Iran's national security so why would they support it? The support for this comes from Hakim becuase that is the only chance he has of retaining any power in a future Iraq. Given the large public support for Sadr, the failure of the Iraqi army to take Basra, the mass defections of the Iraqi army during the fighting and the increase of US troop deaths, I would say that support is severely lacking amongst the Iraqi Shia population also. In other words there is no benefit for Iran to stir up their own Kurdish populations or their Shia friends in Iraq. It is American politicians that are supporting this not Iran.

In fact we already have a model for Iranian support in the region and it is Hezbollah in Lebanon. Meet Nazrallah, a charismatic leader with popular support amongst the people in his country and is in fact looked at as a hero throughout the Arab World for resisting the Israeli invasion of 2006. Sound familiar?

Posted by: Sam | May 2 2008 16:09 utc | 18

Concerning b’s post #15 regarding the unanimous vote, here is a link that lists the members of Senate Armed Services Committee. Not surprising, from all of Jim Webb’s high moral talk during his campaign, here he votes like all the rest. Democrat/Republican – what’s the dif?
Senate Armed Services Committee

Posted by: Rick | May 2 2008 16:14 utc | 19

b #15 Iraq: U.S. has no claim to oil boom

'America has hardly even begun to repay its debt to Iraq,' Baghdad official says

"This is an immoral request because we didn't ask them to come to Iraq, and before they came in 2003 we didn't have all these needs....
"It's illogical, illegal and immoral," he said of the U.S. proposal that Iraq give the U.S. military cheap oil. "Any additional commitments by the Iraqis to the Americans will make it less respected in the eyes of the Iraqi people, and that will make things even more complicated."

Posted by: annie | May 2 2008 16:33 utc | 20

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