The Iranian Strategy In Iraq
After presenting vital core background on the Iranian system, its religious 'Achilles Heel' and what is at stake for the Islamic Republic, Michael Rubin succinctly spells out the Iranian Strategy in Iraq.
The Iranian strategic response to threats arising from the new situation in Iraq has been to replicate the Hezbollah model. Step-by-step, Iranian authorities are implementing in Iraq the strategy which allowed Hezbollah, Iran's proxy, to take over southern Lebanon in the 1980s. The playbook--military, economic, and information operation--is almost identical.
At the center of the Hezbollah strategy are the militias. Just as the Revolutionary Guards helped hone Hezbollah into a deadly force, so too have they trained the Badr Corps, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)'s militia and the core of Shia firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr's Jaysh al-Mahdi (Mahdi Army). Iranian replication of the model was both deliberate and well-planned. Badr Corps infiltrated Iraq even before U.S. forces reached Baghdad. In the black market of Sadr City, the price of Iraqi documents rose while those of Iranian passports fell, a result of rising demand for Iraqi papers and increasing numbers of Iranian documents on the market. In July 2003, a joint Free Iraqi Force and U.S. patrol confiscated Iranian passports and significant sums of cash at an illegal Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) checkpoint, after KDP peshmerga allowed Iranian operatives to exchange Iranian documents for KDP-provided Iraqi papers.
Tehran's choice of representations further reflected its strategy. Its first ambassador in post-Saddam Iraq was Hassan Kazemi Qomi, the Revolutionary Guard's former liaison to Hezbollah in Lebanon. After Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader Jalal Talabani became Iraq's president, foreign diplomats met him to present formally their credentials. PUK officials said it was comical, as every Iranian "diplomat" they had known for years in their intelligence ministry or Revolutionary Guards capacity.
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