Iraq has been at war for most of the past 30 years starting with the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. It is unfortunate, that after a nearly decade long war, Iraq is once again under siege. This time however, Iran is not at war with Iraq, in fact, it appears they want to help Iraq, so much so, they are willing to work with the United States.
To understand the U.S.-Iran mistrust. I suggest watching this 5 minute clip from the intro of Argo, I’ll post it below. Despite years of conflicting objectives, especially under President Ahmadinejad, there has been at least one time according to CNN when the U.S. and Iran worked together. Iran provided intelligence in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 to aid the U.S. in the invasion of Afghanistan.
This time however, there may be multiple motivations. Certainly, Iran prefers a stable neighbor, just like the U.S. wants Mexico to be stable, and we support them in criminal investigations in particular to achieve that end. Iran reportedly has sent 3 Revolutionary Guard units to Iraq, although they deny it. That said, Iran working with the U.S. may be more than just wanting support in the field, they may be using the conflict in Iraq as a chance to improve relations with the U.S. for the nuclear agreements scheduled to complete the next round of talks July 20 of this year. If Iran shows responsibility in handling the conflict in Iraq and shows a genuine interest in the welfare of the Middle East, it may hold sway in the negotiations.
Iran has forged a relationship with Iraq’s president over the past few years, partly due to the shared religion between the Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, and Iran’s ruling party. However, according to NPR’s report from Thomas Erdbink, Iran is not drawing the lines between religious affiliations, but actually calling for the Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiites to work together against the terrorists of ISIS. “[Iran] is not playing the sectarian card,” Erdbink reported.
One of the biggest issues the U.S. has had with Iran recently has been the conflict in Syria. Iran has supported President Assad, sending weapons and supplies to bolster his army. The situation in Iraq may help them in that as well, perhaps using the emergence of ISIS to show that President Assad was the better of two evils. Iran may shift it’s position slightly, opting to “fix” the government of Syria, instead of replacing it, and if they prove supportive of Iraq in a way beneficial to U.S. eyes, Iran may use this to bolster their position in nuclear talks.
Links & Facts:
- Nuclear power is a popular option in other nations. France, after the oil crisis in the 1970s, opted for nuclear and now obtains 75% of its power via nuclear plants.
- CNN Video on U.S.-Iran cooperation
- NPR Story on U.S.-Iran cooperation (audio)