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Thursday, March 26, 2015

New York Times Editorial, "A Dangerous Escalation in Iraq": Obama Seeks to Induce Iran to Sign a Nuclear Deal

The Tuesday deadline for signing an interim nuclear arrangement between the P5+1 and Iran is fast approaching, and not surprisingly, Obama agreed to US bombing of the Iraqi city of Tikrit, which is held by ISIS, in support of an Iranian-led assault. Today, a New York Times editorial entitled "A Dangerous Escalation in Iraq" puzzles over why Obama ordered the attack:

"By ordering the bombing of the Iraqi city of Tikrit, President Obama has escalated America’s involvement in the fight against the Islamic State without providing a shred of evidence showing how it could advance American interests, or what happens once the bombs stop falling.

The strikes are part of a campaign that from the outset has been waged without the authorization from Congress required by the Constitution. Mr. Obama is pursuing the operation at the request of Iraqi officials, who said air power was needed to break a stalemate."

Stop! In fact, the bombing was ordered by Obama to induce Khamenei to sign off on the nuclear agreement. No authorization from Congress? Congress opposes the nuclear deal with Iran, and Congress, for all Obama cares, can go to hell.

The editorial continues:

"These strikes could further destabilize Iraq if the United States is seen to be siding with Shiite militias — which make up the bulk of the ground forces battling ISIS in Tikrit — over Iraq’s minority Sunnis. Yet in a sign of just how unpredictable the dynamics of the region are, some of the militias see the United States as the greater evil and are so angered by the airstrikes that they have already announced they are pulling out of the fight."

Stop! These strikes could "further destabilize" only Iraq? How about the Middle East? In fact, the entire Sunni Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE, have never been more furious with Obama for assisting Iran in its efforts to achieve regional hegemony. But then again, Obama did place us on notice that he wishes to see Iran emerge as a "successful regional power":

"They have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it. Because if they do, there's incredible talent and resources and sophistication inside of — inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power that was also abiding by international norms and international rules, and that would be good for everybody. That would be good for the United States, that would be good for the region, and most of all, it would be good for the Iranian people."

Or stated otherwise, Obama is seeking a trade-off: If Iran signs the nuclear agreement, he will not stand in the way of its Middle East ambitions. However, there is a difference between standing on the sidelines and actively providing air support to what is unquestionably an Iranian-led attack upon Tikrit.

The Times editorial acknowledges:

"Until now, America has left the battle in the hands of a force of about 30,000 Iraqis led by Iran and composed mainly of Iran-backed militias; they are facing a far smaller group of ISIS jihadists. The Iraqi government and its army have been largely sidelined, having lost credibility when the army failed to stop the ISIS onslaught last year.

. . . .

Before ordering the airstrikes, Mr. Obama reportedly insisted that the Shiite militias move aside so the Iraqi Army could play a larger role, and on Thursday Iraqi special forces were reported to be advancing on Tikrit. Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp, who had been advising forces around Tikrit, reportedly left the area on Sunday."

Stop! Indeed, it's all a show, including Suleimani's "disappearance." But Obama has failed to fool anyone, particularly the Saudis and Egyptians.

The editorial concludes:

"Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the senior leader of the Shiite world, can have an important function in making the case for a more inclusive government. So can Iran, whose fitness for rejoining the international community will be judged by its willingness to cooperate on security in the region."

Stop! Iran has no desire to foster security in the region, as evidenced by its support of Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are overrunning a country which had been used by the US to launch drone strikes against ISIS and al-Qaeda, and the direct involvement of Iran's military in Syria in support of mass murderer Bashar al-Assad. Yes, the Times, which is in bed with Obama regarding the nuclear pact with Khamenei, is truly wearing its naivete on its sleeve.

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