Fighters of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). AFP

Brian J. Dunn

May 22, 2017

If you have any doubt that after the liberation of Mosul from ISIL control that the American military must stay–however our presence is defined–ask why we intervened if we are just going to give Iran a free hand to dominate Iraq?

Iran is playing for keeps in Iraq:

Iran helped create Lebanese Hizballah in the early 1980s and has been trying to apply the Hizballah model in Iraq through its support for groups like Kata’ib Hizballah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq for more than a decade. It has likewise been trying to apply this model in Syria since 2011, through its support for the pro-regime National Defense Forces and various Shiite Hizballah-type militias. Iraqi and U.S. decision-makers need to understand how this model is being applied in Iraq, in order to appreciate its implications and to better counter it there, and elsewhere.

During the Iran-Iraq War, the Iranians explained their bloody offensives against Iraq–after largely ejecting the Iraqis from Iranian territory seized in 1980–as necessary to get to Israel.

Iran uses their influence and power inside Iraq to get to Syria to defend Assad. Assad allows Iran to reach Hezbollah to arm them for war with Israel.

Iran still wants Iraq to reach Israel. And under the terms of the horrible Iran nuclear deal, even if Iran obeys the letter of the deal Iran will be free in well under a decade to pursue nukes without Western interference.

President Obama walked away from winning the post-war fight in Iraq after President Bush achieved military victory in Iraq.

A main reason that the Iraqi government began to rely on the Shia militias even before Mosul fell was because of the dramatically reduced effectiveness of Iraqi security forces.

And Iraqi security forces were weakened because without America there to guard against Iranian influence, the Iraqi government replaced army leaders with commanders loyal to Baghdad without regard to military competence.

Without an American military presence, our ability to even see that military leadership problem was crippled.

After Mosul, with all those Shia militias loyal to or vulnerable to following Iran (and Iraq never did use the pro-Iran militias as cannon fodder against ISIL to kill two birds with one stone), will be in a far better position to encroach on Iraqi sovereignty and harm American influence in Iraq to keep Iraq a positive factor in fighting terrorism in the region rather than being a negative force (as it was under Saddam) in harming regional security.

That Iraqi army leadership problem is why Iraqi resistance in the north collapsed so dramatically when ISIL struck in mid-2014 (and we ignored the collapse of Iraqi control in western Anbar in the early part of the year).

Will President Trump walk away from winning the post-war fight in Iraq after President Obama initiated Iraq War 2.0 to re-win a military victory in Iraq?

Or is a potential Israel-Iran nuclear war in the region no big deal?

The dignified Rant

About Track Persia

Track PersiaTrack Persia is a Platform run by dedicated analysts who spend much of their time researching the Middle East, in due process we fall upon many indications of growing expansionary ambitions on the part of Iran in the MENA region and the wider Islamic world. These ambitions commonly increase tensions and undermine stability.