Iran and Basra

Here’s another take on last week’s Basra fighting, this time from Asia Times Online’s M K Bhadrakumar, who intelligently identifies the overlapping templates of what was at stake in the fighting:

Iraq’s future as a unitary state; the parameters of acceptable federalism, if any; attitude towards the US; control of oil wealth; overvaulting political ambitions. . .

In other words, not just a sectarian battle, but a complex matrix of conflict. That notwithstanding, Bhadramakur ultimately paints Maliki’s offensive as a U.S.-backed power move to secure Basra’s oil wealth. Take away the edge of glee Bhadrakumar betrays at the setback it represents for America, though, and what you get is an insightful appraisal of the battle’s Tehran-brokered peace:

. . .Anyone who knows today’s anarchic Iraq would realize that triggering a new spiral of violence in that country may not require much ingenuity, muscle power or political clout.

But to be able to summarily cry halt to cascading violence, and to achieve that precisely in about 48 hours, well, that’s an altogether impressive capability in political terms. . .

What puts us at a disadvantage, it seems, is that we’re the only one in Iraq who isn’t coordinating policy with the Iranians.

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