Earlier in the week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged the government of Iraq to expel all Iranian military forces from the country now that the Islamic State (ISIS) has been dealt with. Given that it was Iranian militia and Revolutionary Guard units and officers that helped in the victory over ISIS, the demand from Tillerson seems, at best, dubious.
This appeal by Tillerson was designed to dangle better relations with the rest of the Sunni Arab states, primarily the Saudis, as the carrot. In response Tillerson got the stick.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi put the kibosh on that idea in what can only be thought of as the most dismissive of ways. Here’s the translation of al-Abadi’s statement (thanks to Adam Garrie at The Duran):
“A very close source expressing the strangeness of the statements attributed to the American Foreign Secretary.
A source close to Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi expressed his surprise at the statements attributed to the United States Secretary of state about the Popular Mobilisation Forces.
According to the source, the combatants of the Popular Mobilisation Forces are Iraqi nationals who have made enormous sacrifices to defend their country and the Iraqi people and answer to Iraqi leadership by the law of the house of representatives.
The source said that no party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters.
The source confirmed that Iraqis were fighting on Iraqi territory and there were no foreign fighters in Iraq.
The source explained that the presence of the international coalition forces in Iraq or any other state was limited in preparation for training, logistical and air support and not for fighting on Iraqi territory”.
In short, “Stuff it, Rex.”
What this statement does, nearly full-stop, is declare Iraq independent of future U.S. meddling in its affairs. The reality is that the U.S. has been playing both sides in the conflict with the end game to be permanent presence in the new Iraqi Kurdistan.
That plan fell apart last week with the routing of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk. In fact, in light of that event, al-Abadi’s statement should come as zero surprise to anyone. And U.S. forces are now stranded in Iraq and soon to be Syria as well.
Why should Iraq even give the U.S. a second thought now given that we backed the failed Kurdish push to steal territory and declare independence. Our play with both the Iraqi Kurds led by Massoud Barzani and the Syrian YPG Kurds has failed to sow the required chaos, redraw the map and put our forces within a stone’s throw of Iran so as to engage in a new round of ‘diplomacy.’
Moreover, this statement by al-Abadi ensures that the entire region will, out of logistical necessity, become clear of U.S. interference for the foreseeable future.
The Afghan Shift
This is why the neocons had Donald Trump shift his focus from Syria and Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan as a rearguard action to prevent central Asian integration. Oh, sure, Trump and his neocon handlers in D.C. will make a big show about staring down Iran on the JCPOA (the Iran Nuclear Deal), but in the end the only way that deal gets fundamentally altered is if it is accompanied with a wholesale withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria, Turkey and Iraq as the sweetener.
I think that’s a deal Trump can live with if he gets the guarantees from Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia will safeguard Iran’s nuclear ambitions and China does the same with North Korea.
In the meantime Trump will let the McCainiacs set policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan and continue to play around that the U.S. is still relevant to the people and the governments there.
And the main reason why this will play out as I’ve described is simply that we no longer have anything to offer that comes even close to matching what China and Russia can put on the table.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Russia’s support through anti-terrorism efforts, defense agreements and trustworthy diplomacy overmatch by orders of magnitude what the U.S. can offer to improve these countries.
In the past we’ve maintained chaos in the region by bribing leadership and propping up dictators to ensure they were enriched and their people suffered. I don’t care if you’re talking Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan or Azerbaijan.
But, in the past two years the leadership of all of those countries has changed. And every small victory for Russia in places like Syria, Turkey and Iraq shows everyone just how thin U.S. power projection capabilities have become.
And, that’s how we arrived at al-Abadi’s statement. Iraq just declared independence from the U.S.
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