Saturday, April 05, 2008
Iranians brought peace to al-Maliki's short war
George Bush had just praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for waging a "historic and decisive" battle against the Mahdi Army, which he said achieved "a defining moment" in the history of a "free Iraq".
Remember that it was al-Maliki's idea to start this battle in the first place. And it wasn't going well. How did it end?
According to the article Iran torpedoes US plans for Iraqi oil in the Asia Times:
By all accounts, Iran played a decisive role in hammering out the peace deal among the Shi'ite factions in Iraq. A bloody week of human killing on the Tigris River ended on Sunday.
General Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps personally mediated in the intra-Iraqi Shi'ite negotiations. Suleimani is in charge of the IRGC's operations abroad.
US military commanders routinely blame the Quds for all their woes in Iraq. The fact that the representatives of Da'wa and [the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council] SIIC secretly traveled to Qom under the very nose of American and British intelligence and sought Quds mediation to broker a deal conveys a huge political message.
Anyone who knows today's anarchic Iraq would realize that triggering a new spiral of violence in that country may not require much ingenuity, muscle power or political clout.
But to be able to summarily cry halt to cascading violence, and to achieve that precisely in about 48 hours, well, that's an altogether impressive capability in political terms. In this case, the Iranians have managed it with felicitous ease, as if they were just turning off a well-lubricated tap. That requires great command over the killing fields of Iraq, the native warriors, and the sheer ability to calibrate the flow of events and micromanage attitudes.
Now, what has this to do with oil? Better to read the details in the article cited above, but one more snippet will give a hint:
Out of the dramatic developments of the past week, several questions arise, the principal being that the Bush administration's triumphalism over the so-called Iraq "surge" strategy has become irredeemably farcical, and, two, US doublespeak has become badly exposed. What stands out is that Washington promoted the latest round of violence in Basra, whereas Iran cried halt to it. The awesome influence of Tehran has become all too apparent. How does Bush come to terms with it?
What has happened is essentially that Iran has frustrated the joint US-British objective of gaining control of Basra, without which the strategy of establishing control over the fabulous oil fields of southern Iraq will not work. Control of Basra is a pre-requisite before American oil majors make their multi-billion investments to kick start large-scale oil production in Iraq. Iraq's Southern Oil Company is headquartered in Basra. Highly strategic installations are concentrated in the region, such as pipeline networks, pumping stations, refineries and loading terminals. The American oil majors will insist on fastening these installations.
The game plan for control of Basra now needs to be reworked.
Bush, if he has any sense at all of what is going on in Iraq, must be muttering something like, "Curses, foiled again."
Fat chance there will be much discussion of this in the American corporate media. For them, it will be Bush's defining moment.
The rest of the world knows better whose moment it was.