If Iran Were Attacked, Iraq Would Defend It
During a January visit to Tehran, anti-American radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr told the head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council that in the event of an attack on Iran, Iraq would come to its aid.
One spokesman quoted Sadr as saying, “If any Islamic state, especially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is attacked, the Mahdi Army [Sadr’s militia] would fight inside and outside Iraq” (Washington Post, January 24).
At one time, it may have been presumed these were just the words of a firebrand cleric, not reflecting Iraqi thinking as a whole. It would be hard to argue that now. Not only does Sadr have his Mahdi Army militia—which, with its thousands of fighters, controls much of southern Iraq—but he was one of the biggest winners in last December’s Iraqi elections. Results of the election released in late January reveal that Sadr’s party, which won 29 parliamentary seats, “will be one of the largest in the first permanent government” of Iraq (Newsday, New York, January 22).
Sadr’s bloc is one of the major parties in the Shiite alliance that controls the National Assembly, thereby leading Iraq and dominating its security forces. (Once again, we see democracy working for the benefit of anti-Western Islamic militant groups; incidentally, there are reports that it was Iran that pushed Sadr to join the Shiite coalition.)
So, when Sadr pledged to defend Iran in case of attack, he was speaking not only on behalf of his militia, but also as a political force—one that is gaining popularity among Iraqis and is described by some as the number-one force in Iraq. As such, Sadr’s assurance of assistance raises the specter of “Iraqi Shiite militias—or perhaps even the U.S.-trained Shiite-dominated military—taking on American troops [in Iraq] in sympathy with Iran” (Washington Post, op. cit.).
No wonder Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is so cocky at the moment: If U.S. troops are battling to contain the current Sunni insurgency, what would be their choices if faced with a Shiite uprising as well? The Mahdi Army is certainly not averse to such action, as the armed uprisings against American (and British) troops in 2004—which were, in fact, orchestrated by Iran—demonstrated.
If we put together Iran’s actions and statements over recent weeks and months, a clear pattern emerges: As Tehran challenges Western nations on the nuclear issue, it keeps reminding these countries of the power it holds over them. It threatens to squeeze world oil supplies to neutralize the threat of economic sanctions. It meets with Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist organizations to remind Israel of the price military action would bring. Now it reminds the U.S. once again of the hand it holds in Iraq.
Yasir al-Za’atirah, a Jordanian journalist and writer, said on Al-Jazeera tv January 23 that “the Iranians wanted to send a warning message to the United States concerning the Iranian nuclear program and what Iran can do” (bbc News, January 26). Iran’s actions of late mean that “Iranians want to brandish the other option in the face of the Americans,” Al-Za’atirah said, “namely, that they would inflame the entire region if the United States resorts to military action against Iran.”
At the same time, Iraq’s allegiances are becoming clearer in this complex battle for power in the Middle East. As the Trumpet has said all along, when it comes to choosing sides, Iraq will support Iran over the U.S.