Iran and Syria Sought

November 14, 2006

British Prime Minister Tony Blair faced the Iraq Study Group. At the core of Blair’s argument was the need for Syria and Iran to chose between being part of the solution or being in isolation.

This is indication that the scenario of bringing in Iran and Syria to help with Iraq is a likely development.

Iran’s Shi’a influence is needed to bring stability to the Sunni-Shi’a divide which has progressed in the last sever months.

Syria, in the past, has had an on-again-off-again relationship with Iraq, depending on the political climate of the day; the countries were also linked by the Ba’th party’s origins in Syria. However, the Iraqi Ba’th leadership was different from Syria, because over time a civilian-military divide emerged within the party.

Recently, Syria was forced out of Lebanon after Hariri’s murder. While Syria receives criticism today for its influence over Lebanon, it is largely Syria’s involvement, which brought stability to the factionalized country. Perhaps Syria will be asked to assert a similar influence in Iraq, because while partitioning has been mentioned, it is not favored and could lead to chaos in the region. Turkey and Iran are also concerned about an independent Kurdish state as that could threaten its territorial integrity.

Iran has been a traditional opponent of Iraq and has even aligned with Syria against it. Today, Iran’s foreign policy is focused on destroying the credibility of Israel as well as maintaining its nuclear program to use as leverage in dealing with the US. Getting Iran involved in Iraq could divert its attentions from Israel and bring Iran back into alignment with the West. After all, Iran’s president has been courting the United States for several months without a reply; with a US and UK exit from Iraq set for the next year, this could be the perfect opportunity.

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