Iran's Creeping Conquest of Iraq: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Has Revealed The Depth Of The Iranian Military's Role In Iraq
20 March 2015
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
The battle to rid Tikrit of the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and
Syria (ISIS) has revealed the depth of the Iranian military's role in Iraq,
as well as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) leaders' authority
over what have been dubbed the Popular Mobilization forces, an alliance of
Iran has sent forces, consultants and arms to Iraq. And its security leaders
have reiterated their view that they are the ones who are saving the Iraqi
regime and Baghdad.
A New York Times report said Iran has deployed rockets and missiles in Iraq,
while several Iraqi leaders have spoken out about a military deal struck with
Iran worth 10 billion US dollars.
This goes beyond temporary Iranian support for Iraq during its ordeal. It's
more a plan by the Iranians to dominate and seize control of its oil-rich
Iraqi neighbor, which has geostrategic importance.
What has changed since September is that Iran can no longer count on the
office of Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, who was its close ally, now that
he's been constitutionally toppled.
Iran has therefore decided to instead be present in all Iraqi political,
military, partisan and religious posts.
The Iranian march towards Iraq and its domination over Baghdad's
decision-making process may express Iran's desire to secure its control over
Syria and Iraq, and this would automatically mean hegemony over the Arab
Levant, as well as the Gulf.
Iran grew concerned when Iraqi forces succeeded in forcing Maliki to exit
power at a time when the former premier was intending to renew his term for
another four years—had Maliki been successful he would have governed Iraq for
twelve consecutive years by resorting to absolute power that resembled the
former regime of Saddam Hussein.
The United States supported the plan to eliminate Maliki by cooperating with
Iraq's political parties including Maliki's Islamic Da'wa Party which turned
His comrade Haider al-Abadi was chosen to take over the premiership post.
It seems that eliminating Maliki emboldened the Iranian regime to directly
interfere in Iraq and obstruct the political reconciliation that Abadi
pledged to achieve with Sunni Arabs and Kurds.
The Iranians have also aborted the project to establish a National Guard
force, and instead have established a combination of extremist Shi'ite
militias that they call the Popular Mobilization forces, which are currently
fighting in Sunni areas.
The process of Iran's seizure of Iraq resembles that of the Syrian occupation
of Lebanon—it started under the banner of the Arab Deterrent Force and later,
during the 1970s, Syrian troops resorted to confronting Palestinian militias.
Even after the defeat of forces hostile to the Lebanese state, the Syrian
troops stayed in Lebanon within the context of a comprehensive occupation
that saw political figures assassinated or marginalized.
The Syrians also controlled all aspects of the economy, established the party
of Hezbollah as their military arm and fully controlled Lebanon for a quarter
of a century.
Iranian intelligence and the IRGC currently have a substantial presence
inside Iraq and most of them are deployed under the slogan of confronting
However the size of Iranian interference—in my view—confirms that Iran is not
present in Iraq for temporary military cooperation.
Comments from Iraqi leaders on the vast sums of weapons being bought from
Iraq by Iran only enhance these fears.
Since 10 billion dollars is a huge amount of money, and since Iran does not
have weapons that are worth this amount, these statements prove that Maliki's
government funded Iranian activities in the region under different pretexts
which were then recorded as military purchases.
Truth be told, the amount of money paid by the Iraqis to the IRGC—regardless
of how large a sum it is—is not the real issue here.
What's more important is Iran's intentions concerning its presence in Iraq
and its role in managing Iraqi forces and controlling Iraqi political
decisions. So are we witnessing an Iranian conquest of Iraq?
Al Rashed is the general manager of
Al -Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-
Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a
senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a
US post-graduate degree in mass communications. He has been a guest on many
TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.