Iraq reacts

UNDERSTANDABLY, Iraq is the first to react to the growing threat facing Iran, ruling out use of its land and air space for the expected US-Israeli strike to thwart Teheran’s nuclear ambitions. Nouri Al Maliki no doubt realises well just what havoc Iran is capable of wreaking inside Iraq should the US proceed with the strike, which seems more likely now that at any point during the confrontation.

Still, even if Maliki does succeed in preventing use of Iraq should the attack transpire, it does not seem likely that Iran will refrain from tapping its resources inside its battle weary neighbour, since Iraq is host to the largest US presence in the region, both personnel and hardware. Going by the Iraqi insurgency’s bloody track record, especially recent government clashes with militias boasting strong sectarian linkages in Iran, it is clear that Teheran retains very strong networks that Baghdad has so far been unable to break, despite massive US military involvement.

Maliki’s position is the least enviable of all leaders that will be drawn into the conflict. With his country already in its worst condition in living memory with practically zero chances of improvement anytime soon, he is eager to avoid bearing the brunt of Iranian anger in the short run, and ruling out a fate like Lebanon’s in the longer period, which is likely to see his country become the proxy battlefield of bickering regional rivals.

Of course Iraq is not the only platform Iran is sure to leverage as it continues to set novelties in political confrontation with the sole superpower. Banking on regional complexities, it will use political and religious connections in Lebanon and Syria to mount attacks on American interests, including regional waters where its speedboats will present greater dangers to American battleships than conventional naval doctrines like to acknowledge. Not to be missed, of course, is direct retaliation with Israel.

In ways it was only natural for Iraq’s government to take the most immediate steps following Israel’s sternest threat yet, seeing how the country continues to be ravaged by effects of war. Iran possesses a far greater ability to hit back than Iraq did half a decade ago, especially if it comes under limited assault and is not bound to reciprocate in a restricted manner. America will not live in this neighbourhood forever, so the material costs of the war are much greater for all the others involved, something Israel would do well by paying heed to. Apparently, Iraq realises it better, and if other Arab governments do too, they should come out unified immediately. It is not uranium enrichment or nuclear proliferation or even Iran’s modus operandi that they would be supporting. It is war that they must oppose.

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