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Monday, November 20, 2006

Posted by Tanstaafl
Are Iraq's Neighbors Serious about Stability?

"Iran has invited the Iraqi and Syrian presidents to Tehran for a weekend summit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, four key lawmakers told The Associated Press on Monday.

The goal is to hash out ways to cooperate in curbing the runaway violence that has taken Iraq to the verge of civil war and threatens to spread through the region."

I sincerely hope that this is more than a publicity stunt and that the Iranians and Syrians have realized that an Iraq ripped apart by Civil War is unlikely to be good for them either.

Back in October, I posted:

However, I now believe it is time that we start pulling our troops out. We can, and should, give leaders of the other nations in the region not an exact schedule, but a general idea of how long it will take us to pack up and redeploy. We can make it clear to them that if they do not want chaos in Iraq then they can step up and take a hand in rebuilding. We did the dirty work of taking-out Saddam, now they can stabilize the region.

I wonder if the Administration has quietly told Iran and Syria that we can't stay for ever, and the sooner they get in the game, the better the end-game will be for their countries.

Alternatively, these two rogue nations may have realized that it is not in their interest to have additional US forces show up in their back yard.

I am very curious to see what will come out of this summit. In all likelihood it will be a lot of empty rhetoric and a fair amount of denouncing the US. But, I am holding out a slight hope that these two nations will decide to withdraw support for the various militias and terrorists that they are backing in Iraq, and throw their weight behind the elected government.

Right now, my guess is that the Iraqis are suspicious that the government is our puppet. Based on Saddam's 95% voter support, I wouldn't trust election results if I lived there. If both Iran and Syria recognize and start cooperating with the Iraqi government, instead of undermining it, it could go a long way to creating legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people.


I think getting Iran and Syria involved is a horrible idea. Iran has its own ambitions regarding Iraq, and feeding those ambitions in any way will run against U.S. interests.

By Blogger Irina Tsukerman, at 3:24 PM  

How will it run against US interests? I'm not claiming that it can't, I just don't think it is clear cut. I do not think that other powers in the region, including Syria, Saudi Arabia, or Egypt will simply allow Iran to dominate Iraq. But I'd rather that those nations risk their blood and treasure instead of ours stabilizing the country.

I am willing to accept that this might not be the best plan, but I'm still waiting for a better one.

If engagement of Iraq's neighbors and withdrawal (staged, unstaged, whatever) doesn't make sense to you, how do you propose preventing / ending the civil war that is brewing between Iraq's Shia and Sunni factions?

By Blogger Tanstaafl, at 12:02 PM  

This may sound awfully, but I'm not sure that a civil war there is a worse outcome than Iran's domination. A civil war would at least give a fair fighting chance to Sunnis; if Iran comes to power, there'll be bloodshed no doubt about it... and minorities won't stand a chance. Furthermore, Iran will use Iraq to gain its own support, and perhaps, eventual dominance in the Middle East.

By Blogger Irina Tsukerman, at 7:54 PM  

I don't disagree. That's been my point all along is that we can't be afraid of a civil war / instability in Iraq. I just don't want our troops standing in between the Shiites and the Sunnis as the civil war erupts.

By Blogger Tanstaafl, at 12:48 PM  

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