The Iraq Crisis and America’s Double-Edged Partnership with Saudi Arabia

The National Interest has published our latest piece, on the current crisis in Iraq.  To read the piece, titled “America’s Middle East Delusions,” click here; we’ve also appended the piece below.  As always, we encourage readers to post comments, Facebook likes, etc. both on this site and on The National Interest Web site.

America’s Middle East Delusions

The explosive ascendance of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) underscores the thoroughgoing failure of America’s political class to devise an effective and sustainable strategy for the United States after 9/11.  The failure cuts across Democratic and Republican administrations, with the most self-damaging aspects of each administration’s policies roundly endorsed by the opposing party in Congress.

Both sides deny responsibility for unfolding catastrophe in Iraq:  Republicans criticize Obama’s marginal modulations of Bush’s approach to the Middle East while Democrats blame Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  (Republicans also criticize Maliki, but not so much that it might exculpate Obama.)  Foreign policy elites also ignore a more urgent and ongoing flaw in America’s post-9/11 Middle East policy that is directly linked to Iraq’s current crisis—Washington’s recurrent partnership with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states to arm, fund, and train Sunni militias.

America’s turn to jihadi proxies did not start with Bush’s strategic malpractice in Iraq.  It was born on July 3, 1979, when President Carter signed the first directive to arm jihadists in Afghanistan, before Soviet forces invaded the country.  For U.S. policymakers, collaborating with Riyadh to launch transnational jihad in Afghanistan seemed a clever way to undermine the Soviet Union—by goading it into a draining occupation of Afghanistan, which Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, hoped to make Moscow’s Vietnam.  Ultimately, Red Army garrisoning of Afghanistan contributed only marginally (if at all) to the Soviet Union’s dissolution.  But U.S. support for the mujahideen and cooperation with Riyadh contributed critically to al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and 9/11—which opened the door for Republican neoconservatives and Democratic fellow travelers to unite behind attacking Iraq.

America’s invasion-cum-occupation of Iraq was not just badly implemented, as many of its non-Republican champions self-servingly lament; it was an irredeemably bad idea from the start.  Certainly, U.S. action destroyed the Iraqi state.  But, just as fatefully, the political displacement of Iraqi Sunnis by decisively larger Shi’a and Kurdish communities attracted powerful patrons—e.g., Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states—determined to help Iraqi Sunnis, including segments of Saddam’s disbanded army, fight to regain a disproportionate share of political power.  Such were the roots of the insurgency that erupted within months of the U.S. invasion in 2003—stoked by an externally-facilitated influx of non-Iraqi Sunni fighters (including a substantial number from neighboring Syria), many coalescing into the Jordanian Abu Musab az-Zarqawi’s nascent Al-Qa’ida in Iraq.

Increasingly desperate to coopt a critical mass of these fighters, Bush disregarded 9/11’s lessons and chose to gamble on arming and training 80,000 Iraqi Sunni “tribesmen” as part of General David Petraeus’ 2007-2008 “surge.”  Bush turned to Sunni proxies in the vain hope of eliciting Sunni acquiescence to a post-Saddam order inevitably dominated by Shi’a Islamist and Kurdish parties representing the overwhelming bulk of Iraqis.  Washington also wanted to check what it considered the unacceptable growth of Iranian influence in Iraq (Tehran had supported Iraq’s leading Shi’a Islamist and Kurdish parties in exile for twenty years) and regionally.  The surge temporarily paid off enough Sunni fighters to let American commanders and politicians claim that violence was coming down.  But it also gave Iraqi Sunnis greater material and organizational wherewithal with which—once U.S. forces were gone—to attack what were bound to be non-Sunni-dominated central governments.

Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, who led U.S. forces in northern Iraq during the surge, says he “never anticipated” that Sunnis his troops trained would join with—and give U.S.-provided weapons to—radical jihadis.  But at least some of Hertling’s troops recognized, in the words of a former Marine, that they were paying and training “hired thugs.”  While they may have seemed a “lesser evil at the time,” many were ostensible “ex”-jihadis and others who have since proven eager to make common cause with extremists.

U.S.-armed Sunnis needed a catalyst for resurgence, however.  In the first two years of Obama’s presidency, they grudgingly co-existed with central governments grounded in coalitions of Shi’a Islamist and Kurdish parties.  The Islamic State of Iraq—formed in 2006 from Zarqawi’s Al-Qai’da in Iraq—seemed on the wane.  Then, in spring 2011, Obama decided to support largely Sunni militias and forces willing to collaborate with them in trying to overthrow incumbent leaders in Libya and Syria.  This was motivated partly by dysfunctional aspects of Washington’s strategic co-dependency with Riyadh, and partly by a longstanding delusion that America could orchestrate a de factoaxis of Saudi Arabia and other “moderate” Sunni states with Israel to check Iran’s rise and bolster a pro-U.S. regional order under threat from the Arab Awakening.  But, by reigniting the flames of Sunni militancy, the decision proved profoundly inimical to American interests.

Like Sunni militias in post-Saddam Iraq, Saudi-backed cadres fighting Muammar al-Qadhafi and Bashar al-Assad were attracting growing numbers of radicalized foreign fighters—including, in Syria, thousands of veterans of the Iraqi insurgency.  U.S. and Gulf Arab support for anti-Qadhafi and anti-Assad insurgencies gave a huge boost to participating forces, enhancing their access to arms (including caches of U.S.-provided weapons), equipment, and money.  Moreover, U.S. endorsement of these crusades effectively protected their jihadi participants; Washington was unlikely to attack militants fighting leaders whose overthrow Obama himself had enjoined.  Obama’s ill-considered interventions in Libya and Syria generated predictable blowback—e.g., a dead U.S. ambassador and three other murdered official Americans in Libya—and produced new cadres of battle-hardened militants with easy access to U.S. armsprovided either directly or indirectly through American “allies.”  This, in turn, fueled a precipitous deterioration in Iraqi security.

ISIS’s current offensive across Iraq’s Sunni heartland is an apotheosis of the trifecta that Bush’s ill-begotten Iraqi campaign and Obama’s catastrophic decisions to overthrow Qadhafi and make Assad’s removal the goal of America’s Syria policy have collectively wrought.  It integrates local and foreign jihadi extremists so bloody-minded that Ayman az-Zawahiri (Osama bin Laden’s successor) has disowned them with U.S.-trained Sunni “tribal” forces and leadership cadres from Saddam’s military (including General Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri, the King of Clubs in the now-iconic deck of cards distributed to U.S. occupation troops).

This transnational complex represents a major upgrading of the worldwide jihadi terrorist threat.  Even more significantly, ISIS is territorially expansionist and genocidal, with a political program—including proclamation of an Islamic state “cleansed” of Shi’a and obliterating existing boundaries in the heart of the Middle East—beyond anything al-Qa’ida ever articulated.

Looking forward, American policymakers should start observing the Hippocratic injunction, “first, do no harm.”  Calls for Washington to engineer Maliki’s replacement by some allegedly preferable alternative are wrong-headed:  Maliki’s list clearly won this year’s parliamentary elections, and there is no alternative figure around whom a (mythical) new “consensus” could form.  (Question for those charging that Maliki should have been more “inclusive”:  how can any Iraqi prime minister be “inclusive” toward an insurgency with literally thousands of externally supported foreign fighters?)  America will further damage its position by returning to the business of trying to micromanage Iraqi politics.  Likewise, Washington should avoid again playing into al-Qa’ida’s “grand strategy”:  to draw “crusaders” (the West) and “infidels” (Shi’a) into battle against Sunni holy warriors, thereby rallying support for them across the Sunni world.

It is also imperative that U.S. policymakers rethink—and rebalance—their Middle East diplomatic strategy, in at least three critical respects.  First, Washington needs to acknowledge the mistaken premises of its Syria policy—that Assad has lost the support of most Syrians and can be overthrown by externally-supported oppositionists—and recognize that ending the anti-Assad insurgency is essential to cutting off ISIS’s base in northeastern Syria.

Second, Washington needs to accept Tehran as an essential player in containing and rolling back ISIS’s multifaceted challenge and—as we have been advocating inside and outside government for over a decade—embed that acceptance in a broader realignment of U.S.-Iranian relations.  It is crucial, though, that America engage Iran over ISIS politically—not, as some suggest, by U.S. warplanes covering Iranian foot soldiers in Iraq.  (Most responsible officials and politicians in Tehran appear too smart to fall for such a “trap,” which would also play into al-Qa’ida’s grand strategy.)

Third, Washington must finally confront Saudi Arabia over its longstanding support for jihadi militants as a policy tool.  Riyadh’s resort to this tool has proven serially damaging for U.S. interests; time has come for U.S. leaders to make clear to Saudi counterparts that their tolerance for it is at an end.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

 

34 Responses to “The Iraq Crisis and America’s Double-Edged Partnership with Saudi Arabia”

  1. Smith says:

    US considers talks with Iran on Iraqi situation: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-27863870

    Iran should just listen and privately sympathize with American “concerns” if any, and then leave it at that. It is an American trap. Iran should do what ever is necessary in Iraq according to its own strategic vision for the region. Just 5000 or so US/Saudi/Turkish supported wahabi zombies should not scare Iran into a strategic blunder as Khatami had done in Afghanistan. US should not be brought into this.

    After all, US has always wanted to use Iran like a condom for its own malicious tactical purposes and then discard it. This should be unacceptable to all Iranians.

    It should not be mistaken for any kind of strategic opening. It is not.

    Iran has completely the upper hand here.

    The only way we know that a strategic opening has occurred is when US IMMEDIATELY removes all the sanctions, publicly admits to its SHAMEFUL activities with regard to Iran, compensates Iran by IMMEDIATE transfer of all kinds of technologies to help diversify Iran’s economy and publicly announces that Iran has as much right to have nuclear weapons as US does and opens a fat line of credit to Iran in addition to ordering its vassals and barons to invest in Iran. Also there should be a gag on all the Western media with regard to Iran except when they are singing Iran’s praise. Then we know it is a real strategic opening.

    Iran is not a condom.

    Note to Leverettes: Please use the term Sunni with alot of care. Wahabi and Takfiri are better substitutes in the context of your arguments. This is not a Sunni-Shia fight as MSM is deliberately pushing it. It is fight that British creatd Wahabis/Takfiris are fighting against Shias as well as Sunnis. Using terms like Sunni militias has implications unintended by you. Eg. the militias US trained in Afghanistan were Deobandis who are takfiri (they are a minority in South Asia and they kill as many Twelver Shias as they kill Brelvi Sunnis).

  2. Karl.. says:

    The last paragraph is interesting, have the west ever approached up the state funded terrorism from the sunni states?

  3. Richard Steven Hack says:

    The latest M K Bhadrakumar piece at Asia Times…

    Obama broods over an Iraqi odyssey
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-02-160614.html

    Quotes

    Great ambiguities remain in Obama’s statement, which put a question mark on US intentions.

    Obama singled out the ISIL as the sole protagonist threatening Iraq and “eventually” American interests as well. But it becomes difficult to believe that with all the intelligence inputs at his command, Obama is unaware of what is almost universally understood by now, namely, that there are many fish in the Mosul pond and ISIL is only one of them.

    Yet, Obama sees only the ISIL on his sights. This is the most intriguing part of his statement insofar as once a US military intervention in Iraq begins in some form in the coming days, the ISIL might well become the perfect alibi to extend that operation into Syria at some stage.

    A US military operation in the Sunni heartlands of northern Iraq would most certainly mean the disruption of Iran’s communication links with Syria.

    Significantly, Obama said in his statement that the ISIL “could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well”; that there has been a spillover from Syria; and that the ISIL is “part of the reason” why the US remains engaged with the Syrian opposition.

    End Quotes

    As I’ve indicated, the “chaos in Washington” is not just about what the US can do to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq – but what can the US elites gain from such an intervention.

  4. Richard Steven Hack says:

    US Begins Partial Evacuation of Baghdad Embassy
    http://news.antiwar.com/2014/06/15/us-begins-partial-evacuation-of-baghdad-embassy/

    They don’t want 5,000 employees hanging from helicopters ‘cuz there won’t be enough helicopters… :-)

  5. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Iraq, Syria Coordinate Air Strikes Against ISIS
    http://news.antiwar.com/2014/06/15/iraq-syria-coordinate-air-strikes-against-isis/

  6. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Iran warns against military intervention in Iraq
    http://news.yahoo.com/iran-warns-against-military-intervention-iraq-102732688.html

    Quote

    However, National Supreme Security Council chief Ali Shamkhani dismissed any US-Iran cooperation over Iraq.

    “That is part of a psychological war, and is totally unreal,” Shamkhani said, denouncing “information published in the West’s media”.

    “As we have already said, if there is an official Iraqi request we will be ready to study it under the framework of international rules, and this concerns no other country,” added Shamkhani, a Rouhani appointee.

    End Quotes

  7. Richard Steven Hack says:

    As for the three requirements to resolve the situation in the Leveretts’ piece…

    Well. good luck with that. I think we can count on Obama doing precisely the opposite.

  8. Fiorangela says:

    Hillary Leverett will be on C Span Washington Journal ~8:30 am EST June 16 2014.

  9. Fiorangela says:

    Call in numbers, C Span Washington Journal

    Democrats: (202) 585-3880
    Republicans: (202) 585-3881
    Independents: (202) 585-3882
    Outside U.S.: (202) 585-3883 –

    See more at: http://series.c-span.org/Journal/#sthash.yMthKngP.dpuf

  10. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:

    June 16, 2014 at 4:04 am

    In 2004, the Shia Crescent was a figment of King Abdollah’s alarmist imagination – a comment also unworthy of someone whose bears the surname “Hashem”.

    10 years later, Axis Powers and GSS have made it an operational reality where Iranians, Syrian, Iraqis, and Lebanese are coordinating political and military operations and are fighting along side one another.

  11. fyi says:

    Smith says:

    June 16, 2014 at 12:54 am

    I doubt that there would be any cooperation by Iran with US or EU – not in the middle of their financial economic war against Iran.

    [Their hyper-inflation war aim, had it been successful, would have disrupted social cohesion in Iran – leading to family disintegration etc. And we would read crocodile tears articles about Iranian women forced into prostitution due to poverty – composed by White girls in US – just like what happened in Iraq.]

    Minimum requirement for cooperation would be the inclusion of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia in US State Department list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and a similar declaration by EU.

  12. Fiorangela says:

    Hillary Leverett — “Invading Iraq was a major mistake, but right now the focus must be on another, older pattern of US foreign policy dysfunction: US arms extremists who then use those weapons against us. This started in 1979 when Jimmy Carter armed the mujahaddin in Afghanistan. It works short term but long-term comes back to bite us.”

    “Islamic Republic of Iran must be engaged, with mutual respect. US relationship with Saudi Arabia must also be discussed fully.

    response to Lindsay Graham comments, that Iran should be engaged to help with Iraq, but then we should make sure the USA takes charge in Baghdad — Leverett says, “That is the same way we have dealt with Iran in the past: we accept their help, then we sanction Iran; call Iran Axis of Evil; etc. Iran is wary, and it is essential for USA to show good faith.

    caller, Florida: “It makes no sense to talk with Iran. Iran has sworn — sworn! — to destroy Israel. Where are you coming from?”

    Hillary kept her cool and defused the caller’s disdain: “It’s understandable that the notion of working with Iran is shocking . . . Iran has actually been more effective in resolving problems in Syria and Iraq than US has been.

    “ISIS threatens the nation state fabric of the region. It is a non-state actor and is territorially expansionists. They are genocidal, and they have said they intend to take Shia holy cities and slaughter Shia.

    caller: US troops helped Kurds in earthquake situation. US troop morale was high.


    will Hillary’s comments, that Iran should be engaged to help w/ Iraq, turn against her, because it will take on the shape Graham

    caller: impact of Persian Gulf war I; and Libya war was a huge mistake, led to Syria war which led to current ISIS crisis.

    HML: US foreign policy community has not looked back with clarity at the effects of invasion of Persian gulf. US left thousands of troops surrounding the holiest places of Islam.

    the problem of 2011 re Libya was disastrous . . . followed by arming extremists to overthrow

    caller: Hillary you are spot on, you are so knowledgeable. Should Iraq be split up, like Biden suggested? What do you think?

    HML: Breakup of Iraq MAY happen, but the idea that the map can be withdrawn and US can be like Sykes Picot — US does not have that kind of power. Each of the surrounding states has an interest in seeing Iraq stay whole, perhaps federated. Turkey, Jordan and Iran have interests in keeping Iraq unitary. US must get very serious about diplomacy; work with Iran, get more frank with Saudi Arabia.

    Mod. reads from HML’s “Delusions” article.

    Larger problem that US political class continues to fuel

    9/11 as opportunity to do what they wanted to do earlier: destroy power in Iraq. the inability for them to see, the impulse to use 9/11 to use that agenda rather than look squarely at why 9/11 happened,

    our 9:08 — our inability to deal with what happened on 9/11 and to resort to a — rather than confront squarely

    calle: WOW. You are dropping some bomb shells … what you are saying is the seeds that US planted are bearing fruit and they don’t like the crop … You are a credit to C Span … I hate looking at Danielle Pletka, Kagan … for every one of you, there are 10 of the Kagans … go to RaceforIran, if C Span wants to be more fair and balanced, they should have you and your husband on more often.

    HML: thank you. one point he makes: I have been several times to these places: it used to be if you went to a country and listened to them, that used to be seen as scholarship, to inform debates. Now, it’s dismissed as an apologist … Arabists were dismissed as apologists; people who have never been to Iran claim to be experts. that debate has not only been counterproductive, it has been disastrous.

    caller: first it was the Germans, now it’s the Middle East… as long as you manufacture weapons, you have to manufacture enemies. what are you going to do with them, warehouse them?

    HML: Eisenhower talked about that …We supplied tens of millions in weapons, and now ISIS has taken control of them. … Why are we fueling conflicts?

    caller: Your guest doesn’t know what she is talking about. State Dept was very anti-Sunni. I was in Iraq . . . State Dept was pro Shia and pro Kurd . . . the anti Sunni factions within the government . . .

    HML: the decision not just to invade Iraq but to disband the Sunni military/ trained officers … The point I’m trying to make is US looks at the region thru fanciful thinking … we listen to whom we want to listen to, expats who tell us what we want to hear. when we disbanded the Sunni military, we had to come up with a strategy to deal with the blowback. The problem is how we approached the Sunnis, instead of drawing them into political process, we armed them. So Saudis, Libyans, Syrians added arms . . . the fanciful thinking that Iraq would welcome an invasion…

    caller: this lady is making a lot of good points but the idea that US is an invading occupying force — we have been a force for good. look at S Korea — our stabilizing force in Germany … every country we have so called invaded, our military has been a force for good … I don’t know about the invasion of Iraq … all the democrats, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi — were aboard the invasion of Iraq.

    HML: I would take issue with the caller re the success of these invasions, the human cost, the moral cost, the strategic quagmire. Nixon had to figure out how to resolve that quagmire, he went to Beijing. We need to do the same thing w/ Iran. We need to pull back not be hegemonic power we tried to be in Asia … HML turned this caller’s comments to a statement of the Going to Tehran thesis.

  13. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:

    June 16, 2014 at 4:11 am

    I agree.

    ISIS attack followed Mr. Obama’s trip to Saudi Arabia; likely this has been a coordinated Axis Powers, Saudi Arabia, Turkey initiative; another conspiracy in a long chain one which – per your comments – aimed at the destruction of the Shia power across the Middle East.

    God be Praised, this conspiracy also failed and boomeranged back at its instigators.

    “Kill the Shia” is the best way to describe Axis Powers policies in the Middle East – it seems to me.

  14. Smith says:

    Look at this: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27868703

    They blur or blank out their sensitive sites. But for countries like Iran it is going to be like a bonanza for wahabi zombies and MKO filths. Just like already Twitter is providing its finest service for ISIS.

    It is too bad that Iran has not yet developed its own space infrastructure so that it can reciprocate what these guys are doing and therefore force them to be careful with Iran.

  15. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    June 16, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Too late, too little. They nurtured it, making it from a baby to a fully grown adult and now they are throwing him out of the house into democratic Iraq.

  16. Smith says:

    Tricks up American sleeve: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/06/iran-sanctions-expiration-2016-penalty-legislation-obama.html

    Note that there is no strategic shift. They let an insignificant sanction “expire” and then put a much more robust sanction in its place for something else like “Women Rights”.

    The only way to end this, is to pull out of NPT. Zarif should stop fooling himself in front of the whole world.

  17. fyi says:

    All:

    I guess ISIS attack on Mosul was to be the catalyst for US war on Syria:

    http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/syria-the-impact-of-isis-in-iraq

  18. fyi says:

    Smith says:

    June 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

    I think that is at best a trial balloon, seeking to reassure Iranians or, as you say, to trick them.

    I think the views below are closer to the mark.

    http://nationalinterest.org/feature/iran-deal-could-concerned-congress-hinder-negotiations-10666

    I mean, let us not kid ourselves, we are in the Halls of the Mad King….

  19. Ataune says:

    @fyi

    There are always tricks involved in politics, even among “friends”. One main reason is that there are no 2 political distinct entities in the world (nation-state being one kind of them) that can have 100% identical interests. So, saying “this is a game” won’t add any information here.

    These signs are all indications that for whatever reason, internal or external, “permanent” or temporary, economic or political etc… the US intend to pursue and implement for now its publicly held accommodation (de-escalation) policy with regards to Iran. Since the Islamic Republic hasn’t looked for a fight with America for a long time now, this new attitude from the US side put politically the US, and not Iran, in a demanding position. Given that, as the Leveretts have stated several times here, this is not necessarily a sign of a strategic shift and keeping in mind that we are talking about the strongest (differentiated from most powerful) military nation in history and a self-described leader of the world; No one, thinking in political term, should expect such a big ego to climb down, without some arrogance and huff and puff from the huge mountain of difficulties she has put herself in.

    I’m not expecting “strategic friendship” outcome from this change of attitude, neither an end to “tricks” and “games”, which as I said before are perpetual in politics. But the key for Iran, an internally stable and legitimate system and a credible regional power state, is to present the US with facts in the ground showing that her interests, even as a hegemon, are maybe not served well by promoting warmongering in the region. This is the best declarative policy that Iran can and should and actually is holding into it. In the current situation I consider this to be the best to be implemented as well.

  20. Karl.. says:

    Did you guys read the statement by Kerry on Iran?
    http://rt.com/usa/166296-kerry-iran-isis-iraq/
    Who talks like that? What a stupid man, why would Iran work or even respect US policies on IRaq especially when he say such degrading things about Iran?

    This shows though that kerry is desperate and show the power of Iran.
    Iran shouldnt work with US on Iraq, thats for sure.

  21. BiBiJon says:

    Ataune says:
    June 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    I for one totally agree with Ataune. And, to add ….

    A regional power (Iran) and a global power (US) will never accept one another’s prerogatives, especially not pertaining to the ‘region’. The only exception being circumstances such as in Syria and Iraq. Here the mess is US’ making and she desperately needs to extricate herself from the problem. She can only do that in coordination with the regional power, and to the confines of this particular problem at and, they shall cooperate, because TINA (there is no alternative).

    Cooperate as they might, both sides will continue to push their respective agenda to the hilt, only moderated when such game playing put the ‘solution’ they’re working towards in jeopardy. This natural, and predictable dynamic will be fertile ground for skeptics to see it as a trap, but I would caution to resist cautioning US and Iran, they are not kids.

  22. Rehmat says:

    “In order for this Neo-conservative (mostly Jewish) strategy – to turn Israel into a world power not dependent on fickle of the US for its survival – to work, it is obvious that Iran has to be substantially weakened. Enter the latest Israeli noises that sound like an ultimatum to the US and the world to denuclearize Iran or else,” wrote Thomas Mysiewicz on October 2, 2005.

    http://rehmat1.com/2014/06/16/iraq-another-anti-iran-proxy-war-for-israel/

  23. kooshy says:

    Iranian FM and the nuclear team watching Iran vs Nigeria game in Iran embassy in Vienna. Interesting point checks the enclosed picture, see what else you can find in the background

    http://www.mehrnews.com/detail/News/2313259

  24. BiBiJon says:

    kooshy says:
    June 16, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Are those IR-1s or IR-2ms?

  25. kooshy says:

    Russia’s Gazprom Cuts Gas to Ukraine, Sparking EU Shortage Fears
    Natural-Gas Shutoff Threatens to Further Destabilize Ukrainian Economy

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/gazprom-demands-ukraine-prepays-for-gas-1402900814?tesla=y&mg=reno64-wsj&url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304292904579627500915469862.html

    Really, they did?, no way, and all along Victoria F> Europe No Land, thought they were just joking,

  26. kooshy says:

    Bibijon

    I think these are just those aluminum tubes Collin Powel couldn’t find in Iraq, somehow they end up in the Vienna’s Iranian embassy TV room, and one would never know the power of magic, but again at the end of the day, one can’t discount if they end up stocked up in the western behind.

    Cheers

  27. Karl.. says:

    kooshy

    Is this soccer-competition big inside Iran or is it not encouraged by the authorities? I heard by commentators in the west that this competetion is “suppressed” inside Iran. What the truth?

  28. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The US has zero interest in the killing of Shia in Iraq by Isis. ZERO.

  29. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    The King of Jordan fairly quickly saw through the alarmist notion of a Shia Crescent in opposition to Sunni states. Neocon propaganda.

  30. kooshy says:

    Karl.. says:
    June 16, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    “Is this soccer-competition big inside Iran or is it not encouraged by the authorities?”

    Karl, I am not in Iran, but I would like to know are you serious asking this?

  31. James Canning says:

    Lindsey Graham is calling for US cooperation with Iran to defeat Isis.

  32. fyi says:

    Ataune says:

    June 16, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    You might be correct, I will have to take more data.

  33. Dara says:

    The latest evolution in Iraq is followed by many Iranians at home, but you don’t feel any panic or stronger reaction in the population. In fact, Ukraine political situation and evolution seems to be the number one subject of discussions.
    One should ask himself why ?
    First of all, the Iranian population is used to the daily violence in Iraq and the every day Shia killing in different parts of the country. They are aware of those terrorist groups behind that and the countries financing the terrorist acts, Saudi Arabia and some other Persian Gulf States. This state of war, therefore is not new.
    This war has been extended to Syria and there, the terrorist groups have been able to organize as a military corp, receiving logistic, training and arms from western countries and that has led to ISIS in the form, we see today. Again the iranian population who has access to another version of the conflict, saw the rise of ISIS as an inevitable course of the conflict and considered it a logical outcome in the frame of the war declared by Saudi Arabia .
    The continuation of terrorist acts in Iraq against Shia people and the handling of Syrian crisis, made the situation clear for Iranians: Saudi Arabia wants to harm Iran and Saudi Arabia is the closet ally of USA and its western followers and therefore Americans can not intervene in the direction of iranian national interest in the Middle East.
    So ISIS is moving in Iraq taking city after city, killing Shia population and putting pressure on the central government. That was predictable and not surprising.
    Iranians in general don’t want any intervention in Iraq and are surprised to see the Iraqi army so weak in front of ISIS mercenaries, on the other hand they are sure that ISIS can not Intervene on Iranian soil and Iran will remain a stable country in the Middle East.
    Their surprise is to see the American reaction, announcing that they are going to help the Iraqi Government and eventually go to war ( Drones) against ISIS.
    The surprise is legitimate. ISIS is receiving help of the biggest US Ally in Iraq and ISIS is getting multiple form of aid, directly or indirectly from US and US other US allies in Syria.
    So, what is the meaning of this reaction :
    Is it to trap Iran directly in a war that it has avoided till now and officialese the Sunni- Shia war, where US can play its role of arbitration ?
    Or, is it really the end of the Exclusive Alliance with Saudi Arabia ?
    Iranians are suspicious about this second choice and that is why they are considering the new evolution of the situation as part of the big game to be handled with care, the same way the Syrian crisis was handled.