Iran’s support for Nuri al-Maliki in order to ensure that he remains Prime Minister of Iraq for a second term is no secret. However the secret – which seems to have been uncovered today – is the price of this Iranian support for al-Maliki, after al-Maliki called on Iran to help reconstruct Iraq during his visit to Tehran yesterday. This in itself represents a genuine turnaround in the efforts to ensure the safety of Iraq, the sovereignty of its territory, and freedom from subordination to any external power, whether this is the West, the Arab countries, or, of course, Iran.
Al-Maliki’s request is equivalent to giving Tehran the official green light to interfere in Iraq. This is not just political [interference] but also includes [interference] in Iraq’s security, economy, media, culture, and elsewhere. This means that Iran, who has Hezbollah in Lebanon to control the country through force of arms, today has an entire nation at its disposal, and that is Iraq.
This is something that can be described as the second stage in the Iranian plans. The first stage was Tehran – following the collapse of the regime – utilizing funds to plant its men and arms throughout Iraq, in order to invest in post-Saddam Iraq. Today, following the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, Tehran is reaping what it sowed following the collapse of the Saddam regime.
A US source familiar with decision-making circles in Washington informed me that Nuri al-Maliki’s request to the Iranians to help rebuild Iraq “is inconsistent with US foreign policy on the Iraqi file, and the limits of Iranian engagement with Iraq.” Of course this is not the first blow that Nuri al-Maliki has inflicted on Washington, for this was his announcement of an alliance with Moqtada al-Sadr following Iranian pressure, and this is something that has caused concern amongst the Americans. Here my US source told me “I hope that al-Maliki’s call to Iran to rebuild Iraq will be a wake-up call to some in Washington as to what is taking place in Iraq today, and they gain awareness as to the true nature of Nuri al-Maliki himself.”
This is with regards to America, as for the Arab situation, critical questions are now being asked, particularly with regards to what Syria is capable of putting forward, especially after Allawi called on Damascus to intervene, although this has yet to achieve anything. In fact, we see Iran going even further in the issue of the formation of the Iraqi government, with [Grand Ayatollah] Khamenei congratulating al-Maliki on his efforts, and calling on him to form a government as soon as possible. Anybody reading what the Supreme Leader of Iran said might think that he was reading a statement issued by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani [in his position as the most senior Shiite marja in Iraq].
All of this might explain to us why Damascus met with al-Maliki after severing ties with him for a year, and without any pressure being exerted on it such as those that were enforced on the opponents of Damascus in Lebanon whenever they begin their journey towards reconciliation with Syria. Therefore the question that must be asked today is; does Damascus approve [of this situation]? Is this all that Damascus can offer with regards to the Iraqi file? The same applies to the role of the Gulf and at the forefront of this, Saudi Arabia. For if Tehran is causing all of this trouble via its influence in Lebanon, what will the situation be like after it has control of Iraq?
Therefore, even if are were aware of the price of the Iranian support for al-Maliki today, it seems that the Arab countries, and the West, and particularly Washington, are not aware of the extent of the losses that will result from Iranian hegemony in Iraq, whether this is with regards to regional stability, the peace process, or more.