US pullback to leave 30,000 Iranian Al Qods fighters sitting in Iraq
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis October 23, 2011, 12:58 PM (GMT+02:00)
Tags: Iraq US Iran Al Qods commander David Petraeus Nouri Maliki
On their way out
Ten days have gone by since President Barack Obama accused Iran of instigating a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington last April. Yet neither the US nor Saudi Arabia has done anything about it – even at the UN.
Friday, Oct. 21, Obama reaffirmed that all US soldiers will be brought home from Iraq by the end of the year. Two days later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged in Tajikistan: "To countries in the region, especially Iraq's neighbors, we want to emphasize that American will stand with our allies and friends, including Iraq, in defense of our common security and interests."
She spoke as the Obama administration was preparing to pull out of Iraq, leaving in Baghdad a government and national army incapable of defending the country against widening cycles of terror, headed by a prime minister under Tehran's thumb and more than 30,000 armed members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' terrorist arm, al Qods Brigades, deployed there.
Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki is so completely in thrall to Iran that he was afraid to accede to Washington's insistent demand for immunity to be extended to at least 5,000 US soldiers remaining in Iraq, although left on his own he would have been inclined to do so.
The eight-year US military presence in Iraq ends therefore leaving Iran sitting pretty on its two key strategic goals:
1. The exit of American soldiers, whose presence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion was deemed in Tehran a continuous threat to its borders. US military involvement in Afghanistan is seen in the same light.
2. A weak Shiite-led government in place in Baghdad, heavily dependent on Tehran's will. Torn by strife among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, Iraq is in no state to obstruct Iran's hegemonic plans for the Persian Gulf and Syria.
The Iranian regime's right hand for achieving those goals was – and is - Al Qods commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the man also accused by Washington of masterminding the assassination plot.
Washington is well aware of Soleimani's capacity for interfering with American interests. Indeed he crows about it.
Last July, US sources leaked a message he posted in 2008 to Gen. David Petraeus, then head of US Central Command and now CIA Director: "General Petraeus, you should know that I, Qassem Suleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who's going to replace him is a Quds Force member."
He was flaunting his control of Baghdad at American expense.
Since then, he has expanded this control, debkafile's military sources report, by injecting 30,000 al Qods fighting personnel into Iraq, all trained in guerrilla tactics to the standards of Western and Middle East elite units.
At least half are deployed in Baghdad in the guise of bodyguard units Iraqi government members and political figures have hired from local firms. Most of the Shiite figures in government and parliament are now using al Qods details for protection. This makes the easily vulnerably to manipulation from Tehran.
Today, Al Qods has the run of Baghdad's Green Zone, the top-security enclave built a cost of billions of American dollars to keep the US embassy and high commands in Iraq and its seat of government safe from terrorist bombs.
After the US military drawdown in just over two months, the 16,000 US embassy staffers remain in the Green Zone, including 5,000 security officers from civilian contractors.
They will stand eyeball to eyeball with a like number of al Qods operatives defending the pro-Iranian Iraqi government. It is on this jarring note that America is about to end its war in Iraq.