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Iran's Sunni Enemy in Iraq: Not al-Qaeda

With all due respect, when I read 'Working with Iran to stabilize Iraq' this morning by Selig Harrison, I thought I was reading a satirical reprint from The Onion.

Iran and the United States have a common interest in a stable Iraq. Tehran does not want a breakup of Iraq along ethnic lines that would strengthen the movement for an independent Kurdistan embracing its own restive Kurdish areas. Before cooperating to stabilize Iraq, however, Iran wants assurances that the United States will not use it as a base for covert action and military attacks against the Islamic Republic and will gradually phase out its combat forces.

Cooperation will endure only if Washington lets the Shi'ites enforce the terms for the new ethnic equation in Iraq and, above all, if it recognizes Iran's right by virtue of geography and history to have a bigger say in Iraq's destiny than its other immediate neighbors, not to mention the faraway United States.

Harrison, in arriving at the above fantastical conclusion, makes some fair points, but wanders far from logic's reservation in attempting to illustrate a dynamic of an Iranian quest for a stable Iraq. A dynamic that does not exist, nor one which Iran seeks.

Unlike General David Petraeus, the writer chooses to navigate around the term "meddling." Nor, in characterizing the Sahwa (Iraq Awakening Movements) as "euphemistically called the 'Sunni Awakening,'" does Harrison acknowledge that there are Shi'a members of the movement as well. Regardless, Iran works to undermine Iraq's Awakening movement.

Of course, the fact that the movement is fighting (Sunni) al-Qaeda and not Shi'a groups is apparently also an inconvenient fact that doesn't serve to fit the apparently preferred pro-Iranian narrative. The Iraqi Awakening Movements have served to bring more stability to Iraq through their major role in quelling (and culling) al-Qaeda terrorists - the same terrorists responsible for 'Sunni' attacks on Shi'a Iraqi targets.

But al-Qaeda is not Iran's Sunni enemy in Iraq. Notice with open eyes and ears that Iran does not condemn al-Qaeda. It is clearly the Awakening Movements who are seen by Iran as their Sunni enemy in Iraq.

That is an extremely telling observation, is it not? It seems to have escaped Mr. Harrison. It has not escaped us at ThreatsWatch. And it should not escape you.