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May 25, 2005

The Lebanonization of Iraq Progresses...

In this morning's news, John Burns and Terence Neilan report:

Iranian Envoy in Iraq for Talks: Iran's foreign minister arrived in Baghdad for talks that he has said will tackle a number of issues.... The Iranian foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, is the second senior visitor to Baghdad since the formation of the new Iraqi government, following the meetings held here on Sunday by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Mr. Kharrazi is to hold talks with Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite, and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurd.

It is clear that his arrival sends a signal as to where the friendships are going to lie between Iran and the two Shiite religious parties that control the new government: Sciri, headed by Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, and Dawa, led by Dr. Jaafari. Indeed, his visit throws into question the degree of Iranian influence in Iraq. Ahead of the visit, Mr. Kharrazi described the Iran-Iraq relationship as an important one, and that his meetings would deal with a number of topics.... Now that Iraq's majority Shiite community has risen to power, Baghdad has been working to build on ties with Iran, a Shiite-dominated republic...

How many Iranian troops and secret police are currently in southern Iraq? And what are they doing?

It seems more and more likely to me that the endgame is that Iran plays a role in Iraq like that Syria has played in Lebanon for the past two decades, and that the U.S. tolerates it just as Israel has tolerated Syria's domination of Lebanon.

A principal goal of U.S. foreign policy since 1979 has been to minimize and contain the influence of the Iranian government. It seems that that goal has failed.

Posted by DeLong at May 25, 2005 10:16 AM