Now that the U.S. military personnel have arrived in Iraq to help stabilize the situation, they must choose between working with Iranian intelligence and flying solo.
Both countries are currently conducting reconnaissance in Iraq. Foreign Policy Magazine writer Gordon Lubold explains, “Dozens of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR missions, over Iraq are also under way.” Similarly, the New York Times reports, “An Iranian signals intelligence unit has been deployed at the same airfield [Al Rashid in Baghdad] to intercept electronic communications between ISIS fighters and commanders.”
Some have suggested that the U.S. and Iran should cooperate to help strengthen the Iraqis fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). For example, Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the Independent argues that cooperation is needed immediately because ISIS “is at the gates of Baghdad.” He says Iran’s first priority is stability in Iraq and not installing a pro-Iranian leader.
But I don’t agree.
There are four main reasons why the U.S. should not cooperate with Iran.
First, Iran is not a stabilizing influence. Iran has “fanned the flames of sectarianism” in Iraq to extend its influence. Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz told Reuters aiding Iran would give it a path of control running through Syria. Neither of these would lead to a peaceful Iraq.
Second, Iran’s goals are exactly the opposite of ours. The Treasury Department has designated the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security a sponsor of al-Qaida in Iraq, Hezbollah and Hamas. The president recently requested $500 million to train Syrian rebels that are fighting Iran-supported groups just across the border of Iraq. Both in Syria and on the war on terrorism, the U.S. and Iran have contradictory aims. Any military intelligence we give to Iran to help them take on ISIS can be used against us in the future.
Third, working with Iran will devastate our relationships with our allies. Analysts Michael Doran and Max Boot point out that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, the very countries we need to form a coalition with, would feel we were siding against them. Such stances are justified. According to Anthony Cordesman, previous director of intelligence assessment in the office of the secretary of defense, working with Iran would “give Iran the kind of influence in Iraq that would make it far more of a threat to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, as well as more leverage over Gulf oil exports.”
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, the Islamic Republic of Iran is currently at war with the U.S. Thousands of Americans have been killed or wounded in this war. This war started in 1979, when Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy and took 52 of its personnel hostage for 444 days, to the applause of the new Islamic regime. And it continued in the ’80s through the Iranian terror puppet Hezbollah’s Marine barracks bombing in Beirut that killed hundreds of peacekeeping Marines, the Iranian sponsored bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan in the ’00s that killed and wounded thousands of American soldiers, and even a planned Iranian bombing in 2011 in a Georgetown restaurant to kill a Saudi diplomat. And this war continues as Iran keeps pushing forward in its quest to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can deliver them to the U.S.
As for those who argue that we should not oppose ISIS, that does not seem to be a viable option. The latest Congressional Research Service report, based on U.S. intelligence, says that ISIS plans to attack the U.S. After all, when he was released from a U.S. detention camp in 2009, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the then future leader of ISIS, issued some chilling final words to reservists from Long Island – “See you in New York.”
By Aaron Trujillo
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