Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Binocular Snapshot for 12/28/2011

LastDayWatchers while you watch the true realities on the ground

"It is clear that the American venture in Iraq has ended in abject failure at the cost of 4,500 American lives and between 100,000 and 200,000 Iraqi lives"

The United States has been largely unsuccessful in establishing an inclusive, democratic order in Iraq, another objective touted by Washington to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

What the American invasion ended up doing was creating unprecedented sectarian strife and totally debilitating Iraqi capabilities, thus tilting the regional balance of power in the energy-rich Persian Gulf substantially in favor of Iran.

It is only Iran that can now prevent Iraq from sliding into the abyss of chaos and disintegration, this argument has a simple logic.

Iran is the country with the greatest leverage with the Shia-dominated al-Maliki government. In fact, al-Maliki would not have been able to put together a coalition after haggling for nine months, and become prime minister for a second time after the last elections, had Iran not weighed in on his behalf.

Iran is also the state with the greatest stake in keeping Iraq unified and ensuring its sovereignty, because Iraq's disintegration could adversely affect Iran's national integrity and its aspirations to become a regional leader in the Middle East.

Whenever the going gets tough for any Iraqi Shia faction, its leaders take refuge in Iran, as Muqtada al-Sadr did time and again over the past few years.

The Sadrist agenda may, in fact, coincide better with the Iranian one, given al-Sadr's visceral anti-Americanism, which stands in sharp contrast to al-Maliki's ambivalence toward the United States.

Muqtada al-Sadr can be used by Iran to pull the rug from under al-Maliki's feet, since al-Maliki is now dependent upon the 40-member Sadrist group in Parliament to keep him in office.

That the Sadrists, one of the three main Shia groups in the Iraqi Parliament, may be contemplating such a move themselves is indicated by their demand on Monday that Parliament be dissolved and new elections held."

Three NATO servicemembers have been killed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan, the alliance said Wednesday

"The Taliban said the attack took place in Paktiya province, about 60 miles south of Kabul.

The latest deaths bring December's toll of foreign troops killed in Afghanistan to 23, for a total of 539 deaths so far this year.

A statement from the office said the attack occurred late in the evening, as council leader Adbdul Baqi was heading home from his office."

"Nearly 413 US troops, 45 UK and 103 from other Nato-led troops have been killed in Afghanistan since the beginning of the year."

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Saber-rattling in Strait of Hormuz

Iran tests advanced missiles, torpedoes