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On November 14, the chief of staff of Iraq’s military, General Babak Zebari, visited Iran to meet with the top commander of the Revolutionary Guards. All U.S. troops will be out of Iraq by the end of year, forcing the Iraqis to reach out to the countries that have helped ravage their country. The Iranians and Syrians couldn’t be more delighted.
General Zebari earlier warned that the Iraqi military will not be able to operate independently until 2020. It is possible that some U.S. forces will come back next year, but this is not guaranteed and it is uncertain if they’d even arrive in adequate numbers. Out of sheer necessity, General Zebari went to Iran to meet with Iranian Major-General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the overseer of Iran’s chief terrorism-sponsoring outfit that has taken the lives of countless Iraqis.
“Since the Islamic Republic of Iran is a capable country in many areas, we met with the commander of the Guards’ ground forces to consult and develop our cooperation,” Zebari said.
The Iranian regime characterized the visit as a victory over its enemies.
“Despite efforts by the U.S. and Israel, which are the true enemies of the two countries of Iran and Iraq, they have not been able to drive a wedge between the two nations, the two countries and their armed forces,” Jafari proclaimed. Earlier, the Iranian Foreign Minister visited Baghdad and described Iran and Iraq as “two branches belonging to one tree.”
The Iraqis do not want to have to use Iran to develop its military capabilities. After it was announced that U.S. forces would leave entirely, Turkey and Iran immediately offered to take up America’s role and train Iraq’s security forces. The Iraqis rejected the offer but if the U.S. and its allies leave them hanging, they’ll have to reconsider.
“We, as army, police and security forces honestly prefer that the trainers be American because our weapons are American,” a senior advisor to Prime Minister al-Maliki explained. He said that the Iraqis want 800-1,000 American trainers to return in 2012 and that they are trying to figure out how to pass legislation to grant them immunity. The possible return of U.S. forces will be brought up by al-Maliki when he meets with President Obama in December.
Iraq has already adjusted its foreign policy stances to reflect its weaker position. Whereas al-Maliki confronted Syria in 2009 over its support for terrorism on Iraqi soil and threatened to support dissident Syrians in retaliation, he now is siding with Bashar Assad over the Syrian opposition. When the Arab League voted to suspend Syria’s membership, Iraq was the only country to abstain. Two others, Yemen and Lebanon, voted in favor of Assad. The Yemeni regime was using Syrian pilots to fight its own revolution and Lebanon’s government is controlled by Hezbollah.
The Iraqis have warned Syrian protesters not to “sabotage” their government and even hosted 100 top businessmen and government officials to look for ways to improve economic ties. The Iraqis and Syrians are discussing a possible gas pipeline to go from Iran to Syria through Iraq. Members of al-Maliki’s political bloc have parroted Assad’s propaganda, claiming that the Syrian protesters are agents of Al-Qaeda and accusing Israel and the Gulf countries of stirring up the revolution.
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