It isn’t completely clear how much of Iraq Iran will wind up controling, but what IS clear is that the Shiites have launched a political offensive against the Sunni minority on the same day that the US formally withdrew from Iraq.
Stratfor, probably the best open-source intelligence organization in the world, has been predicting something like this for a long time. So, it’s no surprise that it’s happening now. Nor is it any surprise that Iran has its fingerprints all over current moves by the Shiites to oust Sunnis from any and every position of power in Iraq.
Here’s the introduction to their most recent analysis:
As the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq ended Dec. 18, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched a political offensive against high-level Sunni officials. The crisis came rapidly but was also a long time coming, as Iraq’s Shiite majority — and by extension Iran — have been waiting to exploit the vacuum left by the United States to consolidate influence in Iraq. The main regional stakeholders opposed to Iran’s expanding influence — the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — are poorly positioned to counter the Shia, leaving open the question of how far Iran will go in trying to use Mesopotamia to reshape the region’s politics.
I can’t repost Stratfor’s analysis here, but I can offer a look at an article on the same subject that appeared in The Gulf Today:
December 21, 2011
Having to face criticism over his autocratic governance and now that the US military has left Iraq, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki has gone on the offensive to neutralise his opponents. Having retained the interior and defence portfolios to himself when he formed his government in December last year, Maliki is now in a position to use his clout to label his foes as “terrorists” and put them away.
Among the first victims of the Shiite prime minister is Vice-President Tareq Al Hashimi, a Sunni, who was briefly detained after being taken off a plane at Baghdad airport headed for Irbil in the north.
Now an arrest warrant has been issued for Hashemi as well as some of the senior Sunni politicians of the country. The charges are based on “confessions” given by some of Hashemi’s security guards that they had played in role in the assassinations of several Shiite leaders in the past two years.
It will be a wasted exercise to go into the details, but the immediate effort seems to be aimed at implicating Hashemi and his people in a Nov.28 car-bomb explosion inside Baghdad’s Green Zone that Maliki’s agents claimed targeted the prime minister.
Maliki’s security forces have rounded up hundreds of members of the now-defunct Baathist Party on charges that they were planning a coup. Again, it could only be an allegation, given that only a handful of Sunnis are in the Iraqi security agencies and they are not in a position to even think of mounting a military coup.
According to reports, a list of alleged coup plotters released by the government contains names of people who are dead, who are ill, who are differently abled and who are living in self-imposed exile. Maliki is living up to the image of a dictator as charged last week by Deputy Prime Minister Saleh Al Mutlaq in a CNN interview.
Iraq, and the region, are headed for some truly terrible times.
When you add an almost certain attack on Iranian nuclear facilities during 2012, you are looking at the possibility of a conflagration of epic proportions.
No, make that BIBLICAL proportions.