Foreign Policy Blogs

US v. Iran: Round 347

The biggest news story at the beginning of the week involving Iraq is that of Iraqi-Iranian talks over the weekend.  BBC reported that Nuri al-Maliki (Iraqi PM) discussed security issues with Iranian President, Ahmadinejad.  This included Iraqi desire to stop Iranian backing for Iraqi Shi’a groups and Iran's concern over Iraq's constant chaos.  Also on the table during these talks was Iranian hostility toward a US-Iraqi security agreement.  This comes as no surprise; if the US gets as many military bases (58, as Juan Cole's Informed Comment reports), the US will have the security advantage, and Bush's desire for a preventive war against Iran could materialize in a real way.  Dr. Cole further stated that al-Maliki also met with Iran's highest religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.  For Khamenei, the problem is very simple: the US. 

What complicated this situation even further, yet is also unsurprising, is the US’ increased pressure on Iraq to tie up our own security agreement once and for all.  The AP reported a couple days after the talks that a top State Department official believes that an agreement can be reached by next month.  With regard to US-Iranian relations, Myers and Kulish for the New York Times reported yesterday that Bush is looking for harsher sanctions against Iran.  This is understandable; as a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran needs to adhere to its guidelines against enriching uranium (for more information, see the IAEA's “Focus Iran” site).  However, we see Bush putting “all options… on the table” (typical) while his new ally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is still sticking with diplomacy. 

This fight over Iraq was destined to become more heated as the Iraqi government attempts to pull itself together, especially with all the nuclear drama.  While Iran is violating international law by starting down the path toward nuclear weapons (they have not arrived yet), we should ask ourselves why.  Instead of jumping to conclusions, as the US media does so much with Iran, we should consider their reasons for wanting nuclear weapons.  This could help us determine the right path in trying to stop their enrichment program, and therefore their potential threat to US troops in Iraq (depending, of course, on when we leave).  If we were in their place with a proclaimed enemy taking over right next door, I’m sure we would be sweating just as much as Ahmadinejad. 

We should remember that Iran does not have the same fledgling government that we saw in 1979, when students took over the US Embassy.  In my opinion, it is very unlikely that they will act irrationally, especially with nuclear wildcard Israel a few doors down.  Yes, their government is religiously zealous, but so are the Saudis.  And while we see George W. threatening Iran, he's partying like a rock star in the Saudi royal palace. 



Jennifer Bushaw

Jennifer Bushaw holds an MA from the University of Chicago in Middle Eastern Studies with an emphasis on policy. She focused her research, including her Thesis, on modern Iraq and the Iraq war. She also has a Bachelor's in History from the University of Michigan. Jennifer is currently working as an Investigative Research Associate for a security advisory and management firm in Chicago, Illinois.

Areas of Focus:
Iraq-US Policy; Security; Coalition Operations;