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Iran and the Iraqi Pie - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iran has once again called for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq through their Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, stating that they are capable of “filling the vacuum”. However; this time, they propose a different method.

Following Iran’s previous statement declaring its ability of filling the Iraqi vacuum, it amended its words and said that the statements were taken out of context and distorted by the media during Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York. The amended version upheld that Iran and Saudi Arabia were capable of filling that gap, moreover proposing a new route to achieve this which cannot be described as anything except for an Iranian project to divide Iraq. This comes after Iran’s initial attempt to divide up Iraq was rejected when it was proposed in some circles in Washington.

During his address in the Istanbul conference on Iraq, which was attended by regional states, Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki reiterated his call for a US withdrawal and proposed that Iran and Syria establish a mechanism, with the collaboration of Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to fill in the vacuum in Iraq.

This indicates that Tehran wants to share Iraq with its ally Syria  and to guarantee this success; Iran is offering Turkey a ‘political consolation prize’, of course, to grant it reassurances on the Kurdish issue. Furthermore, it is offering Saudi custody of the Sunnis in Iraq. In this scenario Iraq will have truly become divided; this is tampering in its purest form.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al Faisal’s rejection of this proposal was clear when he settled for distributing a written version of his speech to the regional states’ delegates and used the time allotted for his speech to open the floor to questions, comments and observations following Mottaki’s speech.

The Iranian Foreign Minister had distributed a list that enumerated the assistance that Tehran had offered to Iraq and declared that Iran had approximately four million Iraqi refugees and that it was conceivable to equip and arm them with the intention of forming a nucleus for the Iraqi forces.

Prince Saud’s response was clear; he expressed his aspiration for everyone to strive towards the unity of Iraq, which was what the Iraqis wanted in the first place. Prince Saud referred to examples of assistance cited by the Iranians, among them one in which Iran upheld that it had contributed vast funds to the Shiaa areas in Iraq. The Saudi Foreign Minister voiced his wish that the Iranians might have contributed that money to the Sunnis who would then contribute it to the Shiaa; so as to preserve the Iraqi unity, desist from interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs; instead of just discussing bilateral security agreements.

Tehran’s call for US withdrawal from Iraq is guised as a good deed when in fact it has ill intentions. Seizing control of Iraq will prolong the Iraqi crisis and divide the state up with Syrian assistance. It is not as though what is happening in Lebanon and Gaza today is not enough so that we may add yet another disaster.

Surprisingly, American Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who had confirmed what Prince Saud al Faisal had said when he rejected Iran’s proposed supervision over Iraq, said that Washington rejected the division of Iraq at a time when the Iranians are exerting efforts to accomplish precisely that.

Iran and Syria are searching for spoils of war in Iraq  not the interests of the state. This is what their words and actions point towards; to deliberately spread chaos in the region and play on the abominable sectarian sentiment, as opposed to the states that are concerned for the unity of Iraq and saving it from sectarian manipulation. This latter stance was adopted by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al Faisal and the moderate states that supported him.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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