US and Iran’s First Joint Military Venture: Fighting al Qaeda in Iraq

US and Iran’s First Joint Military Venture: Fighting al Qaeda in Iraq.

While Western coverage portrays the Maliki-led operations against the inhabitants of the Anbar Province as a battle against Al-Qaeda, and as the U.S. supplies Maliki with advanced weapons and intelligence information to carry out these operations, the story is far more complex and involves a legitimate grievance by Iraq’s Sunni minority regarding their representation in government and the lack of any serious effort to develop their areas. The Sunnis of Iraq are being punished en masse for the crimes of the Saddam regime. But the West, the U.S. in particular, seems oblivious to that, as a result it has created a void that Al-Qaeda was all too happy to fill, just as it was happy to fill the void in Syria generated by the U.S.’ unwillingness to invest in moderate rebel. In short, and in pure sectarian terms, the U.S. intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan brought misery to the Sunnis, and the U.S. lack of intervention in Syria achieved the same on an even larger scale. Sunnis are beginning to see a pattern, and Islamists are exploiting that. For all its pretension to noninvolvement, the policies of the Obama Administration put it squarely in the camp of Iran in an ongoing identity conflict that is quickly spanning the region. A backlash is bound to happen, and it’s bound to be violent and bloody.