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Iran vs. The Iraqi Awakening By: Thomas Joscelyn
Weekly Standard | Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Why is Iran going after al Qaeda’s enemies in Iraq? A few days ago, Iraqi spymaster Mohammed Abdullah Shahwani accused Iran of trying to sabotage al Qaeda’s opposition. "We have information confirming that Iranian secret services have sent agents to sabotage the Sahwa [i.e. the "Awakening"] experience in Iraq," Shahwani said shortly before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Iraq. Shahwani "stressed the need for the Iraqi people to be vigilant in facing these activities."

The U.S. Military has apparently confirmed and added supporting details to Shahwani’s accusation. According to Adnkronos International (AKI), U.S. military spokesman Adm. Gregory Smith explained: "the American military recently obtained confessions from detainees who are members of the Al-Quds Brigade and other Shia group who have been arrested in various parts of Iraq, who said that they were assigned to carry out armed operations to kill the leaders and the members of the Awakening Councils, in order to destroy this experiment."

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So, here we have yet another instance in which Iran’s interests coincide with al Qaeda’s. Upon reading these latest accusations I cannot help but think of all those who believe that Iran and America have common interests in Iraq. For example, in "Iran: Time for a New Approach," America’s foreign policy elite, including Zbigniew Brzezinski and the now current Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, argued:

Although they may differ profoundly on specifics, both the United States and Iran want postconflict governments in Iraq and Afghanistan that respect the rights of their diverse citizenries and live in peace with their neighbors. The hostility that characterizes U.S.-Iranian relations undermines these shared interests and squanders the potential benefits of even limited cooperation. As tenuous new governments in Baghdad and Kabul embark on precarious post-conflict futures, the United States and the region cannot afford to spurn any prospective contributions to the region’s stability.

What "shared interests" do the United States and Iran have in post-Saddam Iraq? Beats me. As for the "specifics," we are against al Qaeda and Iran is not. That is indeed a profound difference.

At some point we are going to have to recognize that Iran and al Qaeda are allies, no?


Thomas Joscelyn is a terrorism researcher, writer, and economist living in New York. He is the author, most recently, of Iran's Proxy War Against America (Claremont Institute).


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