Tehran’s target is not ISIL, but the coalition

Much speculation surrounds the air strike Iran carried out on ISIL targets in Iraq recently, centring on questions about possible agreements reached with Washington on the sidelines of the nuclear talks. In the meantime, political instability in the country is being stirred by former Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al Maliki, who claims leadership of the Shia, wrote Joyce Karam in the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat.

“The air strike carried out by Iran in the Iraqi province of Diyala a few days back allegedly targeted ISIL, but it translates as a blow to Iraqi prime minister Haidar Al Abadi and a message to the international and regional coalition swarming in Iraqi airspace,” the writer said.

“The Iranian strike did not achieve any military purpose. It was executed by an F4 aircraft, one built in the 1960s and inherited from the days of the Shah. Such an aircraft is no match for the military capabilities of the MIGs sold by Russia to the Syrian regime.” The writer added that “the purpose of the strike was not military, as Iran has yet to reveal which ISIL posts it targeted”.

She said that Iranian militia fighters are spreading out from Basra to Damascus and that “they have the ability to perform operations that are substantially stronger than that of a 50-year-old aircraft”.

Iran’s first air strike on Iraq since 1988 must therefore be considered “no more and no less than a political message”. Mr Al Abadi, Washington and the regional coalition fighting ISIL were the main recipients of the message.

Recently, Mr Al Abadi fired 36 military commanders who served Mr Al Maliki and signed an oil distribution agreement with the Kurds. These steps were acclaimed by all but one country – Iran.

“Iran’s strategy in Iraq, Syria and Yemen is based on supporting militias that protect Iranian interests and expansion. Iran has no interest in building national armies to help strengthen the central structure of the state,” Karam wrote.

In the pan-Arab daily Asharq El Awsat, Abdel Rahman Al Rashed looks at Mr Al Maliki’s words and the corruption on his watch. “He deliberately spoke of the sacred duty to defend Syria, Iran and Hizbollah’s Lebanon. One might think that the best stunt he pulled was to cover up the dirt emanating from army scandals, corruption, nepotism and fictitious jobs in military and security institutions,” the writer said.

“Mr Al Maliki’s purpose was to threaten the region by claiming sectarian leadership, with the aim of embarrassing prime minister Haider Al Abadi who has called for Iraqi unity and has pledged to reform all that was marred by his predecessor,” Al Rashed wrote. “Failure and corruption led to a catastrophe on June 11, with the loss of Mosul to terrorists after the defection of Mr Al Maliki’s commanders. Were it not for the international coalition, Baghdad would now be in the hands of ISIL. Were it not for Mr Al Abadi’s readiness to mend what his predecessor broke with tribes in western Iraq and restore relations with the Kurds, the country would now be fragmented and torn by civil war,” he concluded.

Translated by Carla Mirza


Published: December 9, 2014 04:00 AM


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