The timing of Iraq’s bombing of Syria continues to appear increasingly suspicious. The day after the bombing, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir visited Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad to congratulate him for his war against ISIS.
The Saudis of course publicly maintain that they oppose terrorist groups like ISIS, while in private, they handsomely fund terrorists in Syria and state openly their violent opposition and indeed hatred of President Assad’s secular Ba’athist government. Saudi Arabia remains one of the most hated countries in the world among ordinary Syrians for this reason.
This merely adds to the awkward and compromised position that the Iraqi government finds itself in. It is true that many in Iraq are sympathetic to the plight of Syria, but the government is partly compromised and the Iraqi military is almost totally compromised by reliance and dependence on the United States, a country which like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, is an enemy of the Syrian government.
Any and every Syrian ought to be deeply worried by the gushing words the famously dishonest Saudi Foreign Minister has offered the Iraqi Prime Minister. It defies logic that one could win praise from one of President Assad’s main geopolitical adversaries and in any way remain a true ally of Syria. Iraq is at best, a deeply compromised and weak ally.
The most intriguing thing that the Saudi FM said during his visit was that:
“Iraq’s neutrality could (lay the ground) for Iranian-Saudi rapprochement.”
Again this is an incomplete statement at best. Many people in the Iraqi Parliament and Government as well as a great many Iraqis in the south of the country, find themselves increasingly politically loyal to Tehran. Iran and the US are in reality the two most important countries involved with and in Iraq.
As America, particularly under the Trump administration is openly hostile to Iran, this is yet a further source of inherent contradiction and compromise implicit in post-Saddam Iraq.
It is unclear also what the Saudis even mean by a rapprochement with Iran. Iran has not threatened Saudi Arabia, but time and time again the Saudis and their American allies threaten Iran and tell outright lies about Iran. Iran is not the region’s let alone the world’s number one exporter of terrorism, but one could make a very good argument that such a description fits Saudi Arabia.
The biggest tragedy is that the open hostility between Syria and Iraq stemming from the Ba’athist split of 1966 could have been reconciled in the late 1970s. By the 1980s this hope was lost as Syria sided with Iran in the Iran-Iraq war and in 1990 joined the coalition of countries invading Iraq.
Today Iraq is compromised from many directions. Although Iraq publicly considers itself an ally of Syria, it is hardly an ally Syria needs when Baghdad is dependent on the United States whose policy against the Syrian government remains technically unchanged, in spite of hopeful words from President Trump.