Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Iran and the US-Iraq SOFA

I have believed for some time now that whenever we see a spike in the belligerent rhetoric coming from Washington, DC, regarding the imminent attacks to be unleashed against Iran for its refusal to give up on its nuclear program, it is actually an indirect way the Americans are trying to get the Iranian state to do more to get the Iraqis to acquiesce to the Americans designs for Iraq. 

The recent status of forces agreement (SOFA) negotiations going on between the U.S. and the Iraqi government show us yet another such episode. While the acceptance of the SOFA agreement by the Iraqi government was in doubt, we saw another surge of the threats of American military attacks on Iran in the American media. Sure enough, the Iranians got busy to persuade their allies in the Iraqi government to sign onto the SOFA agreement. I'm not saying Iran calls all the shots in Iraq by any measure, but they do have substantial influence and the point here is that the Americans wanted Iran to engage those influences more aggressively and to push them in the direction of a positive response to the SOFA deal. Which the Iranians did. 

Some have argued with some justification that the Iranians are sending a signal to the president-elect Barak Obama by persuading their Iraqi brethren to go along with the SOFA deal, while others have called the SOFA deal a defeat for the Iranians. Personally, I agree somewhat with the first take, while I think the SOFA agreement in and of itself is neither a threat to the Iranians nor a boon. 

What the Iranians want in the region is a recognized role assigned to them by the Americans as an indispensable 'partner' in the workings of the major issues concerning the long-term fate of the region. And in playing a key role in the Iraqi regime signing onto the SOFA deal, they have made a showcase of their 'indispensable' role to the Americans. This in turn should gain them some favor in other areas of their dealings with the Americans. 

This, again, should show to the U.S. Leftists who think the Iranian regime has some deep-seated anti-imperialist bent that no such thing will be exhibited by the Iranian state in its current setup. They want regional hegemony and the only power that can guarantee them such a status is the U.S. It is only in this light that we can understand what the Iranian government is up to in the greater middle east (stretching to Afghanistan and beyond). 

Related articles from Uruknet:
Obama, Iran, and the US-Iraq SOFA (Robert Dreyfuss)

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