With the two wars already in Iraq, failure in Afghanistan and severe blow to its plan in Syria, America is witnessing another blow to its global ambitions in recent developments in Iraq. With several trillion dollars spent in Iraq and Afghanistan wars and several thousands of soldiers lost, Obama administration planned an alternative strategy of fomenting sectarian trouble in the Muslim world. Its first laboratory was Syria, where thousands of foreigners were dispatched to wage a war against the Syrian government. It even planned to devastate the country with aerial raids. The plan failed because Iran and Russia came strongly in favour of the Syrian regime. The rebels have finally been almost annihilated in Syria.
With failure in Syria, America started thinking afresh in terms of its relations with Iran. It had started believing that the several decades long efforts to isolate Iran in the Muslim world have only benefited Iran whose influence has continued to grow. Israel-American nexus wanted to remove Assad as they believed Syria to be an extension of Iran. They started fearing that Hezbollah-Syria-Iran nexus can become too strong to handle. With Iraqi regime too developing close links with Iran, America was seeing trouble for future. When you are in no position to defeat the enemy, better enter the treaty. Following this principle, the Western world changed its policy towards Iran, and the equations apparently seem to have changed remarkably in the last one year.
But for America, this apparent gesture of goodwill towards Iran is only a ploy to weaken it. If an Iranian influence zone extends from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, this would signal a big reversal of power equations in the area. With Syrian experiment failing, America seems to have asked its long friend Saudi Arabia to focus on Iraq. Within a few days, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) seems to have taken control of a large area of the country. The rapidity with which they have moved ahead ransacking the opposition, the weaponry they have used and the number of the soldiers they have commanded cannot have been possible without an outside support. The emphasis in the international media on calling ISIS “Sunni Terrorists” clearly gives an idea of what they are up to. The West is interested in fomenting Shia-Sunni hatred to the hilt so that divisions within Muslim community can be used to weaken the Muslim world. They are instigating Iran to get involved in the conflict so that the Sunnis may become further disenchanted with the Shiite Iran.
The likely scenario which is going to emerge is that Iraq will go the Syrian way. There will be a civilian war, which can run for months if not for years. There will be a threat to the integrity of Iraq with attempts to divide it into three. But the plan will again fail like it failed in Syria. Iraq will remain united, and the solidarity of the Muslim community will triumph though at a big cost.
It is a big test for Iran too. Iran cannot afford to look to be supportive of Shiites against Sunnis, as it would adversely affect its policy of avoiding Sunni-Shia rivalry. While the prospects of amicable ties with West with long period sanctions coming to an end can make its leadership vulnerable to the designs of West, it would better care for its reputation in Muslim world as a unifying force against the anti Islamic forces. Instead of openly supporting the Iraqi regime, it should endeavour to bring unity between the two sects. Keeping Iraq united will not only be in the best interest of Iran but also in the best interest of the Muslim World. The world as a whole can also not afford prolongation of the conflict in the oil-rich nation. Hopefully West will show greater wisdom in dealing with the conflict than it has demonstrated in the past.
Dr Javed Jamil is an India based thinker, writer and commentator on current affairs.