Why Won’t They Go Back II? Bring on the Russians?

As I mentioned yesterday, with the Shia-led government in Iraq now taking control of the Sunni Awakening Forces,  the security gains in Anbar province  are in jeopardy.  High five  to Abu Aardvark for flagging this MUST-READ interview with the leader of the Resistance in Baghdad.  Yesterday,  I wondered whether this development would give Al-Qaeda a second chance in Iraq.  The Resistance leader (and also Adrian)  does not think so- but it could be a good opportunity for Russia. 

We are waging a battle of destiny against the Islamic Party. Al Qaeda does not pose any danger to Iraq anymore, and it is finished. The real danger are those that fight us in the name of legitimacy and religion–I mean the Islamic Party. Had it not been for the intervention of the government and the US forces, this party would not have lasted for two days in Al-Anbar.

So might they turn to Russia?

Many Iraq experts in Washington discount the possibility that the Russians would lend their support to a new resistance force in Iraq, but they do not entirely rule it out.

Earlier this month, a former top Baathist official openly called on Moscow for help. Salah Mukhtar, who was an aide to Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi foreign minister under Saddam, and who was Iraq’s ambassador to India and Vietnam, said that Russia’s “pre-emptive step in Georgia is a formidable act from the strategic point of view in its timing, aims and tactics,” and he called on Russia to direct its attention to Iraq:

The United States’ Achilles’ heel is Iraq…. The US colonialist project to have absolute control over our planet can be buried in Iraq.

Only through backing the patriotic Iraqi resistance and strengthening its military capabilities can we accelerate the end of US colonialism all over the world…. The key to defeat the United States in the world and to corner it into isolation is Russia providing support to the Iraqi resistance directly or indirectly.

The key to freeing the world by muzzling the United States requires Russian involvement in the Iraq battle.

Despite the bravado in that statement, it’s not impossible that Russia might be toying with the idea of engaging the United States in the Middle East more directly. In all likelihood, it would depend on a significant further deterioration of US-Russian relations over Georgia, Iran and other points of contention. In the meantime, though, it is likely that Russian intelligence agents are quietly connecting with Iraqis.

Middle Eastern media is full of pro-Russia sentiment and many people,  probably a majority, want to see an expanded Russian presence in the region as a counter-balance to the US.   Fahmy Huwedi, the super influential Egyptian commentator,  recently criticized the Arab governments for not doing enough to exploit Russia anger with the US and Israel over the war in Georgia.   Moscow’s return was the subject of a recent episode of Al-Jazeera’s Al-Itijah Al-Muakis where 90% of the viewers said they saw it as a good thing.  See a recent  post at the Egypt Blog for more on these points.  The oppurtinity is there for Russia to take a more active role in the region at the expense of the US  if it wants and many Middle Easterners would see this as a good thing.

3 Responses

  1. Rob,

    I do think it is odd we speak of Russia now.

    I have a friend living the crazy journalist racket out there in Lebanon. He had an interesting story after meeting some people “in the know” during a night out. He claims that Russian Spetnaz were in northern Jordan. Many were killed. No one seemed to know why they would venture so far off course (this was according to the story, sometime after all hell broke loose in Georgia). I asked him why no one reported this, and he said no one wanted to ruffle those kind of feathers. Apparently no one knew why, but it is well-known in Jordan US-SOF are training Jordanian troops. Email me if you want more details.

    I am not certain if this is true. If it is, the problems above may be much more real than you think.

    _AJS

  2. I will not comment on the article’s information . I just wanted to understand why you, and ,many others, insist to refer to the Iraqi government as the “Shia-led government “, which is very tricky and biased expression used to give a false idea not only about the fomration of government (which is composed of Shia, sunni, and kurds) but also about the demographic facts in Iraq. Some of those who have no clear idea about these facts will think that this government was captured, unjustly, by shias. Not many realize that shia are 60% of Iraqi population and , thus, it is so normal that the prime minister is a shia.The ubnormal thing is that did not happen before 2003, and shia, the majority, were denied any political rights while the sunni minority, 20% of population, controlled the country since its formal establishment in 1921. Calling Iraqi government that way would require to call the American government, for instance, “protestant-led government” or the British government as “the white-led government”.

  3. thanks for your comments and you are correct.

    dont read to much into my choice of words, i wasnt trying to suggest anything. maybe i was influenced by the sunni resitance leader’s comments and thats why i wrote “shia-led,” that would be how he might describe Iraq and his words were the last ones i read before i wrote the post.

    what should we call it?

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