There is a belief amongst many of the Iraqi elite, as well as other Arab politicians, intellectuals and journalists, that the U.S. is conspiring with the Iranians on the issue of Iraq, and that there is a plot to divide the region. The allegation is that America is concluding a deal with its Iranian counterparts, to persuade Tehran to cooperate with America and the West on the subject of its nuclear program [in exchange for allowing the Iranians to politically intervene in Iraq]. This was already offered by the Iranians to the West, in particularly the Americans. Therefore Washington, according to those skeptical of U.S. intentions, does not see the harm in Nuri al-Maliki renewing his post for a second term, at the expense of other Iraqi components. This skepticism deserves to be analyzed, if only for the fact that it has spread like wildfire amongst the Iraqi elite, who generally do not believe in conspiracy theories, and mostly advocate rationality regarding relations with the West.
An Iraqi living in Washington, who is familiar with the decision-making circles there, tells me that those who are closely involved with the Iraqi issue, and specifically within Vice President Joe Biden’s team, are of Kurdish origin. Therefore, how can they not know the Iraqi area, and what is going on there? The source, although not a supporter of conspiracy theories, added that picture soon became clear: The Americans will hand over Iraq to the Iranians, who do not want Iraq to return to former cultural, political and economic status. Instead, they want to remove independent Iraqi decision-making and free will. As a senior Arab official told me: “Do you believe what they say, and ignore what is happening on the ground?”
It is difficult for one to believe conspiracy theories easily. However, what is happening in Iraq today is highly serious, where half of the Iraqi population are marginalized or absent [from the political domain], leaving Iraq as a game in the hands of the Iranians, to form their government as they please. This suggests a fatal mistake on the part of the Americans, even if one assumes that their intentions are genuine. Washington’s fatal mistake was to accept Iranian interference, and to deal with it as inevitable. This helped to legitimize sectarian conflict in the region. If a country such as Lebanon, being so small in size, can cause a headache in the region for America and the West, then how about Iraq, considering its size, role [in the region] and potential?
If Nuri al-Maliki is accepted for a second term in office, this will mean the destruction of the Iraqi political system, which is already fragile. It will also mean the end of any credibility for the entire political process, that every sect in Iraq will shelter under their respective authorities, to ensure their survival. But most seriously of all, life would return again to as it was under the now-disbanded Iraqi Baath party. Ask the Americans, not forgetting that the army of Saddam Hussein’s former regime had more than half a million fighters, where are these men now? Are they guaranteed not to return again?
In my opinion, the matter here is simply American ignorance regarding the consequences of their actions. This issue will have numerous repercussions in the region. Washington has committed big mistakes, not least in their occupation of Iraq, and allowing Iran to influence the formation of the Iraqi government, whether Prime Minister al-Maliki or otherwise. These mistakes mean there is no stability in Iraq, and also that we are now on the verge of a bitter sectarian conflict in our region.
Thus, whoever is advising America, whether foreign influences or otherwise, the question is: Will Washington support the plan to export the Khomeini Iranian revolution to our region?