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Iraq Disintegrates
Iran Sending Iraq Jets, Too

The skies over Baghdad are filling up. Iran just dispatched jets and, apparently, pilots to the beleaguered Iraqi government. According to the BBC:

Iran has supplied Iraq with attack jets to help it counter an offensive by Sunni rebels led by the Islamist group Isis, strong evidence suggests.

Russia supplied an initial delivery of the aircraft just a few days ago.

But analysts at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London say that a further delivery, on 1 July, originates from Iran.

This means that the US—which has also sent aircraft to Iraq—is operating alongside Iran in this conflict.

Earlier this week, Russia sent jets to Iraq, and last month Syrian planes struck at ISIS forces in the country with Iraqi government approval. Meanwhile, the U.S. deploys both planes and drones in the skies above Iraq, but at the moment these are intelligence-gathering, not caliphate-fighting.

The Obama administration has tried to go slow in Iraq, but events are racing ahead. As the world seems to have noticed, President Obama prefers to deliberate (dither, say his critics) when it comes to making foreign policy commitments. U.S. rivals are realizing they can take advantage of this.

While President Obama and his top aides chopped logic and made incremental moves, Russia enhanced its regional footprint, while Iran has increased its hold over the Shi’a powers. As Maliki gains external allies willing to supply and fight for him, President Obama inexorably loses his leverage. Russia and Iran working together are making it harder for the U.S. to develop a coherent policy line even as more U.S. interests are affected by the escalating war.

Appalled by the badness of his options in the Syria/Iraq wars, President Obama has consistently sought to avoid making clearcut decisions or commitments. It looks like a sensible and prudent policy, but the consequence has been that over time all his options get worse—and U.S. engagement in the conflict gets harder to avoid.

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  • Andrew Allison

    Are you suggesting that the US should engage in the conflict because Russian and Iran have? Wouldn’t it make more sense to let them get on with making enemies of the jihadists. I suspect that they will live to regret declaring war on the so-called “Islamic State”.

    • S.C. Schwarz

      And after it’s all over we will have a Jihadist state in what’s left of Iraq, Syria and Jordan, and the Russian and Iranian position in the Middle East will be significantly strengthened. Nice work!

    • FriendlyGoat

      You’re implying that the Iranian leadership should be frightened of IS? Indeed they should.

      Iran has furthered the menace of Islam everywhere (yes, I know Shiite and Sunni are feuding branches), but they all play with the same basic dynamite. Now they are seeing the fuses lit right next door and may suddenly recognize some responsibility to put the lid on before their country blows up too.

  • FriendlyGoat

    If the Congress declares a war, that will be time enough for second-guessing Obama’s command decisions made or not made pursuant to it. As it is, you are complaining that Obama is not taking unilateral action with America’s military—–demanding of him something completely unconstitutional. We know you don’t like Obama, but even conservatives are supposed to whip out their pocket constitution booklets and have some kind of idea what’s written in there.

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