Iran is mobilized for post-USA Iraq
Before arriving in Ankara yesterday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta had a stopover in Baghdad to join the flag lowering ceremony of the American forces there; a page of history that began with the occupation of Iraq in 2003, will be closed by the end of the month.
Panetta said in Baghdad the US presence in Iraq which put an end to the Saddam Hussein regime there was worth more than 100,000 lives, nearly 2 million displaced Iraqis and 800 billion U.S. dollars.
Before his Baghdad stop, Panetta was in Kabul, where he said the Afghan war was a victory.
That is questionable. Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, the best acceptable for the west announced yesterday that he could accept opening Taliban offices - who are literally fighting against Karzai and U.S.-led NATO forces there - in either Saudi Arabia or in Turkey. Karzai government on the other hand is in contact with neighboring Iran on how to cooperate against terrorism. This came after Karzai’s disappointment with other neighbor Pakistan; a country where the US forces - who had pinned down and killed the al-Qaeda leader there - were asked to evacuate a military base because of killing Pakistani soldiers in an Afghan based raid two weeks ago.
If you don’t find the picture complicated enough, you can read more. Iran is getting prepared to exhibit five drones it is holding. Tehran claims the last one was captured using electronic means and forced to land safely under their control in Iranian territory. U.S. President Barack Obama admitted after few days the cutting edge technology spy plane belonged to his country; in a way contributing to the psychological warfare operation by Tehran, who also says only three of those five belonged to the U.S. But who owns the remaining two? Israel? It is not clear yet. Israel on the other hand is trying to agitate the world for more action against Iran’s nuclear program.
But Iran’s main move nowadays is Iraq; to fill the vacuum caused by the US withdrawal.
Iran’s aim is to have control over Iraq through its Shiite population and if not to secure a Shiite Iraq, separated from the Sunni center and Kurdish northern parts and the south. That means with the Persian presence in the Persian Gulf, the source of nearly 40 percent of all oil exports on earth will increase.
American Exxon’s oil deals with the Kurdish regional government despite the protest from the central government in Baghdad, shows that new scenarios are on the table for near future.
Tehran probably understood by now that the al-Assad regime in Syria, as their prime ally and having access to the Mediterranean had no long term future left; it might look wise to focus on the Gulf and consolidate presence in the Gulf, namely Iraq.
There is a danger of the disintegration of Iraq after U.S. withdrawal. Such a big scale crisis could escalate energy wars, has the potential to change the borders and drag all neighboring countries in, including Turkey. Iraq is likely to be a major problem for Ankara in 2012.