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The Enemy of My Enemy
Iran: In It to Win It in Iraq

An Iranian Brigadier General was buried in Tehran today after reportedly being shot by a sniper in Iraq. The Financial Times reports:

Brigadier General Hamid Taghavi [was] the highest ranking Iranian military official to die in neighbouring Iraq, amid signs of Iran’s increasingly open involvement alongside a US-led coalition fighting Sunni extremists.

The general was the most senior member of Iran’s armed forces to die abroad since the Iran-Iraq war ended 26 years ago and was known for three decades of intelligence work inside Iraq.

A Revolutionary Guard statement said the 55-year-old was killed in the Iraqi city of Samarra — site of a Shia shrine and a strategically important centre considered crucial for protecting Baghdad and preventing other Shia shrines in Karbala and Najaf from falling to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis.

Both America and Iran are involved in the effort to drive ISIS back and support the government in Baghdad. As such, there is a tacit alliance—but it is not one of equals. As the old saying goes, it’s like a ham and egg sandwich: the chicken is involved, but the pig is really committed. Today, unlike 10 years ago, Iran is the pig.

This is proving increasingly problematic as, as The Washington Post reports, American officials are beginning to contemplate the scale of the Iranian backed militias in Iraq, which may now equal the regular army (which also leans Shi’a) in total size. If and when ISIS is subdued, this will present another large headache for Washington. Though all other issues with Iran have currently been put on the back burner to make way for the nuclear negotiations, look for this one to fester.

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  • Diggsc

    Perhaps we can get a “reset” button in farsi?

  • S.C. Schwarz

    If we are on the same side as Iran then we are doing something wrong.

  • Edgeslider

    Nice, lets sit back and watch them bleed and squander their treasure. And Israel can come in and finish off the nukes after that.

    • TheRadicalModerate

      Sadly, I think that’s about as good as we’re going to get. But there are three problems with this:

      1) It doesn’t protect Israel. We’re going to have to help them if one side or the other ever wins, because they’re the next target.

      2) Israel can’t finish off the nukes. So we probably have to throw a nuclear umbrella over the region. My favorite version of this umbrella would hold Iran responsible for any terrorist nuclear attacks in addition to Iranian state use, just to make things risky enough for them that they might decide the nukes weren’t worth it.

      3) It’s unclear whether the Sunnis and Shiias killing each other will be diverting enough to keep international terrorism at acceptable levels. So we still need enough intelligence to drop a bomb on the odd cell that looks like it’s getting its act together.

      Other than that, we don’t need the oil as badly as we used to, so a little malign neglect might go a long way.

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