Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nasr's Trip to Iraq

Vali Nasr has returned from a trip to Iraq, claiming that "Iran [is] on its heels" and that it has suffered setbacks . In an article in the Washington Post, he writes:

For the first time since 2003, Iran has stumbled in Iraq. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's decision to confront Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army in Basra and Sadr City last month caught Tehran off guard. The Mahdi Army lost more than face: It surrendered large caches of arms, and many of its leaders fled or were killed or captured. Crucially, the militias lost strategic terrain -- Basra and its chokehold on the causeway between Kuwait and Baghdad and Iraq's oil exports; Sadr City and the threat it posed to Baghdad security.

The Iranians never provided the level of support necessary for any one militia to contend with a national army, let alone the vastly superior US military. You can see it in the types of weapons utilized by the Mehdi Army. Lacking are effective ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles), MANPADS (man-portable air-defense systems) and larger calibre rocket types. Now that the focus of Coalition forces are on the Shia militias, these deficiencies are made more apparent.

Iran still has considerable influence in Iraq. It may reconstitute the Mahdi Army and pick up the fight against America, using special groups of the type suspected in the Baghdad car bombing Tuesday. It may also try to use nationalist opposition to the U.S.-Iraq "status of forces" agreement to its advantage. But Tehran will find it difficult to regain lost turf in Baghdad or Basra, or to go back to happily supporting Shiites both at the center and in the militias. It will have to choose whether it is with the state or the sub-state actors.

It will be interesting to see any tactical adaptations taking place. It is assumed that part of the reason the more powerful Iranian weapon types are being held back from Iraq is for a form of escalation, in case of a hot war breaking out between the US and Iran.

I disagree with part of what Nasr has to say. Iran hasn't necessarily suffered major setbacks, nor is it on its heels. It has so far managed an effective, multi-pronged campaign utilizing an economy of resources, especially compared to the enormous cost of occupying Iraq by the United States. The Iraqi theater of conflict remains a diversionary front for Iran, in its cold war with the US. The fact that the struggle has been multi-pronged now vindicates the approach taken. This particular prong, which is under attack, remains a necessity for Iran's ability to strike back after a US attack. For the Iranians, it will require the focus of renewed attention in being made more efficient for the challenges ahead.

1 comment:

Kemjika said...

Iran is certainly under pressure to perform, and it will. Underdogs have more determination, and compared to US, iran is an underdog, but if it performs, it will become almost eternal. THe IRGC knows its soon time to fight. They are getting ready. US is stretched out, and multi-focused, so its not as prepared for iran(don't fool yourself). EVen if basra was cleared out, the insurgents and networks are still there. US and iraqi soldiers will depart amariyah and move on to other places, and the insurgency will gain its former foothold(like al-qaida has been doing). Make no mistake, iran is tactical, and the US + israel are about to misstep and receive the slap ahmadinejad is talking aobut. They are calculating, keeping calm, stocking up, dispersing nuclear materials, and planning for the US and israel attack. Valie nasr is a specialist on iran, yes. I read alot of his articles, and they are often good, but he's a theorist. what the hell does he know about iraq and teh dynamics from what he "sees" there? THese conflicts are ever fluid, so what seems to be one day might be history the next. Iran is getting ready to fight , and the IRGC knows its time. They are equipped, trained, and getting ready. Lots of local ammunituion production can cause problems for US eternally in iraq, and if syria keeps up its porousness of its border, US will keep having problems as long as its in iraq. I predict shahab-3s hitting centcom in qatar if US attacks iran. Some might say US has patriot batteries, but what did they do when hezbollah was raining 300 rockets a day on israel??????????.....exactly...nothing. Its almost pasdaran time.......