Friday, January 19, 2007

Iraq becoming Iranian client state; U.S. damages Kurd economy. Just Beautiful.

I'm in between focus groups all night tonight with clients, so apologies for the shortness of my commentary. However, I thought the community should be aware of a blistering article in today's LA Times about Iraq's moving toward closer relations with Iran--with our without U.S. approval--and the devastating blow to Kurdistan's economy that was our stupid raid on the Iranian embassy.

Some choice excerpts from the article:
Iraq edges closer to Iran, with or without the U.S.

The Iraqi government is moving to solidify relations with Iran, even as the United States turns up the rhetorical heat and bolsters its military forces to confront Tehran's influence in Iraq.

After some B.S. from Khalilzad...

Iraqis, who have echoed Tehran's calls for the U.S. to release the five men, say the three-way standoff that has ensued reveals more about American meddling in Iraqi affairs than about Iranian influence.

"We, as Iraqis, have our own interest," Zebari said in an interview with The Times. "We are bound by geographic destiny to live with" Iran, adding that the Iraqi government wanted "to engage them constructively."

Zebari's comments reinforced the growing differences between the Iraqi government's approach and that of the Bush administration, which has rejected calls by the nonpartisan Iraq Study Group to open talks with Iran and Syria.

Now that's some harsh language from the Tribune company that owns the times...Point is, though, that Iraq doesn't WANT Iran out of its business. It wants Iran's tourism dollars. It wants Iran's aid toward political stability. It wants Iran's trade benefits:

Zebari's remarks came two days after Iraq and Iran announced a security agreement. "Terrorism threatens not only Iraq but all the regional countries," Iranian radio reported Sherwan Waili, Iraq's national security minister, as saying.

The overtures to Tehran also followed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's appointment last week of a security commander for Baghdad over the objections of U.S. officials, who favored another candidate.

American officials oppose the presence in Iraq of Iranian officials and members of the Revolutionary Guard, which is controlled by religious hard-liners in Iran. Washington and Tehran have been at odds for decades and are in a standoff over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

But to Iraq, Iran is its biggest trading partner and a source of tourist revenue, mainly from the thousands of Shiite Muslim pilgrims who travel to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala every year.

In Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish north, much of the economy is founded on trade with Iran and the smuggling of contraband into the Islamic Republic. Since the 1979 founding of Iran's theocracy, Kurdistan has been a transit point for banned alcohol, movies and satellite dishes.

Meanwhile, we totally fucked up Kurdistan's economy with our all-for-show raid on the Iranian embassy there:

The U.S. raid on the Iranian office, which handled visas and other paperwork for Iraqis traveling to Iran, struck at the heart of Kurdistan's economy, which depends on commercial ties with Iran facilitated through that office.

And what do Iraqis think of that?

Iraqi officials want the U.S. to release the five Iranians. Zebari described them as "Iranian officials" working in a "liaison office" where Iraqis could go for "consular services like travel permits to Iran."

Kurdish regional authorities and the government in Baghdad knew about the Iranians in Irbil and were in the process of transforming the agency into a consulate, Zebari said.

"This is not a new discovery, this office," he said. The Iranians had been "working there publicly, openly. It was not a clandestine network. That's the thing we need to explain to our friends."

Mistake #1? Believing that the United States is your friend. Really, I mean that. Not the United States under the Bush administration, anyway--that United States thinks only for itself and whatever is politically expedient to justify the next possible war to seize the next oil fields.

Most amazing though is the brutal language that follows...

The Iraq Study Group recommended that the U.S. begin a dialogue with Iran and Syria.

But administration officials, under the sway of neoconservative intellectuals who see Iran as a danger to Israel and the U.S., have resisted such calls, saying Tehran must give up its nuclear program and stop supporting militant groups in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon before there can be talks.

Last year, Abdelaziz Hakim, a leading Shiite politician in Iraq who spent years in exile in Iran, tried to improve U.S.-Iran relations by proposing that Iraq act as a go-between or a host for talks between the two nations. Iran rejected the plan when it became public, Zebari said.

Instead, relations have worsened, creating diplomatic headaches in Iraq.

"This is not a clean war," Zebari said. "These complications, embarrassments happen. Through these last three, four years we've been through this many times."

Wow. That's about as harsh as journalist gets, people.

So let's recap:

1) Iraq is becoming an Iranian client state--whether we stay or go. Why are we there again?

2) Bush's petty political posture against Iran royally pissed off the Kurds and hurt their economy, ignoring the complexities of regional trade; and

3) We now have outright hostility towards Bush from the Tribune-owned press at the L.A. Times.

How many different ways can you say...fucked?


Post a Comment

<< Home