In a previous post, I was going to tease out the threads of Iran’s polyphonic Iraq policy, but it has become all too obvious. It now appears that the suggestion of joint Iran/U.S. involvement was a suggestion of the Rouhani “elected government”, which the hardliners of the theocracy are busy cutting off at the knees.
We now read that Maliki’s reluctance to resign is not simply out of concern for his personal safety. The commentary of Sayyid Mahmoud Shahroudi suggests it is actually a projection of Iran’s theocratic voice, Quoting Al-Monitor, “Najaf thus opted for dealing positively with the change by building an inclusive civil state in Iraq that does not only take into consideration the Shiite majority. On the other hand, Qom only saw in Iraq an American threat to Iran’s interests on the one hand and the Shiite majority on the other.”
From Qom’s point of view, what is missing in Iraq is “velayat-e faqih”, the so-called “Mandate of the Jurist”. It was Khomeini’s innovation to interpret velayat-e faqih as theocratic government. Practically, this can be accomplished only in the portion of Iraq which has a Shi’ite majority. To the Iranians, it would be a disaster if Maliki were replaced by a unifying figure.
In “Important Iraq Question“, and “Khameni’s Centrifuges; Breaking the Dollar“, I asked whether Iran really wants Iraq to fall apart. The reporting of Al-Monitor suggests that the part of Iran that really counts, the Qom establishment, really wants this to happen. And like no other religious establishment, the Qom clerics really mix it up in economic affairs.
With Iraq’s southern oil wealth under their thumb, the mullahs may anticipate really tilting the tables of the world’s oil market. Whatever influence the U.S. may have pales compared to that of Iran, which entangles Iraq’s political scene like an inoperable brain tumor. In times like this, one wishes, not for diplomacy, but for miracles.