By Arab News
By Tariq Alhomayed
The above title is a summary of the story of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, in which he accuses Turkey of hostility and inciting sectarianism, whilst the facts dictate that Iraq is now, under its current government, one of the principal sources provoking sectarian strife in the region.
As a result, we find that Al-Maliki himself is today without any allies in Iraq, just as he lacks any normal relations with the Arab world.
With regard to Iraq, Al-Maliki is profoundly at odds with the Sunnis, and wants to imprison his deputy, Tareq Al-Hashemi. He has also clashed with the Kurds, as well as the Sadrists loyal to Iran, and even with (Abdulaziz) Al-Hakim. He is also involved in an intense dispute with the Iraqiya bloc led by Iyad Allawi. So what is left for Al-Maliki after all this? Regionally, and in terms of the Arab world, Al-Maliki does not have any normal relations with the influential Arab countries of the region, or any countries in the region for that matter, with the exception of Iran.
Al-Maliki has launched attacks on Saudi Arabia in language not worthy of a diplomat, let alone a prime minister, and he has done the same with Qatar, and now with Turkey! This is not all of course, as Al-Maliki is also the one who said: “the (Assad) regime did not fall, and it will not fall, and why should it fall?” despite all that the Baathist tyrant of Damascus has done to the Syrian people. Iraq is now creating passageways to help the Assad regime by transferring weapons and money and smuggling oil. So what is left after all this? How can Al-Maliki say that Turkey is a hostile country, inciting sectarianism in Iraq, while Tehran launches an attack on (Massoud) Barzani on the eve of Al-Maliki’s visit to Iran, and also accuses Al-Hashemi of wanting to restore Sunni rule in Iraq with the support of Saudi Arabia?
Therefore, it is clear today that Nuri Al-Maliki is not trying to be new Saddam Hussein, rather he is adopting the role of Assad in the region. This is what I referred to several months ago when I said that Iraq would be an alternative to Syria, and hence we find Maliki attacking the Turkish prime minister and then immediately traveling to Iran, because the Syrian revolution has constituted a real blow to Tehran’s policies in the region, and the fall of Assad, or the fact that he is besieged by the Syrian people, represents a sizeable tremor for Iranian foreign policy. This has prompted Tehran to immediately begin searching for an alternative to Assad in the region, in terms of both a state and its leadership, with this alternative in turn providing support for the Syrian regime so that it can survive for a longer period.
Should the tyrant of Damascus fall, the alternative, i.e. Iraq, will work to ensure that the supply lines are not cut off to Iran’s allies in the region, such as Hezbollah, the Houthis and so on, and will of course besiege the Gulf States and contain the post-Assad Syria. The importance of Iraq is completely different from that of Syria, whereby Baghdad is financially sufficient and possesses a variety of sources, and most importantly of all — as far as Tehran is concerned — in Iraq there are sectarian figures ready to work with Iran, albeit at the expense of their own people, even Iraq’s Shiites. From here it is clear that Iraq’s escalation against Saudi Arabia and Turkey specifically, and its defense of Assad, means that the Iraqi government has repositioned itself to be a subsidiary of Tehran, searching for Iranian support both at home and abroad.
The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Write to him at [email protected]