This is most evident in the statements uttered by Iraq’s foreign minister Mohammed al-Hakim. He declares that ‘We are trying to help and to be mediators.’ He goes on to say that the Iraqi government ‘will work to reach a satisfactory solution.’ These comments seek to imply a moral equivalence between the US and Iran, with a non-partial Iraqi government sitting innocently between the two quarreling powers.
Leaving aside the question of non-partiality for the moment, it is worth remembering that Iran has been pursuing an arms race and aggressive foreign policy that has destabilised the whole region. It has exported terror and seeks to carve a new Persian hegemony across vast swathes of the Middle East. It has shored up squalid mass murderers in Syria. It continues to foment insurgencies and terror wherever it can.
Much against the expectations fostered before his inauguration US President Donald Trump has hitherto pursued a cautious non-interventionist foreign policy and he has been loath to use American military might. That he has felt it necessary to deploy the US 5th Fleet in the Gulf region is a sign of Iran’s relentless provocation.
Thus, a second look at foreign minister Mohammed al-Hakim’s comments about Iraq’s government acting as ‘mediators’ in this latest crisis reveals a spurious pose that lacks all credibility.
Indeed in further comments al-Hakim betrays his blatant partiality, ‘We are saying very clearly and honestly that we oppose the unilateral actions taken by the United States. We stand with the Islamic Republic of Iran in its position.’ At least this declaration is unequivocal. Mr al-Hakim is demonstrating his supine allegiance to a foreign power, namely Iran, a country that has managed to insinuate itself into every quarter of Iraqi government. It is a kind of admission of the fact that many of Iraq’s ministers are subjects of the barbaric Mullah Regime in Tehran.
Among others Ranj Alaadin of the Brookings Institute has made a forensic assessment of the extent of Iran’s subjugation of Iraq, its polity, its resources and its military forces. He writes that ‘Importantly, Iran’s proxies in Iraq are more than militia groups and more than simply Iranian proxies. They are resource-rich actors who are heavily entrenched in the Iraqi political system.’ He goes on to state that Iran’s proxies ‘contest elections and hold seats in parliament. Their fighters are constitutionally mandated as members of the Iraqi armed forces, providing them with salaries from the Iraqi national budget.’
This is the situation that Mr al-Hakim presides over. Moreover, in his recent statements regarding the US build-up of forces in the region he never mentioned the deep and comprehensive sway Iran exerts over his country.
Ranj Alaadin continues his sobering appraisal of Iran’s hegemonic grip in Iraq. ‘Most importantly, Iran-aligned groups have considerable arms and finances that also allow them to operate independently of the state and confront Iraq’s conventional armed forces where necessary. In other words, the Iraqi government is too weak to rein in militias that have the capacity and willingness to turn Iraq into a launching pad for attacks on the U.S.’
This parlous state of affairs not only calls into question Mr al-Hakim’s integrity but also that of the whole Iraqi government. More specifically, given the quailing submissiveness of Iraq’s foreign minister, why would anyone (apart from his Iranian masters) listen to him?