Speculation: Iran Takes Over Basra; What to Watch For

What follows is speculation. There is no evidence in open source that this is happening or will happen.

The population of Basra is enraged at Iraq’s  central government, and Iran, which supports the general composition of the Iraq government. (NPR) U.S. Closes Consulate In Basra, Citing Iran-Backed Violence.

Although there has been substantial violence towards Iranian interests, there is nevertheless an opportunity for Iran in this, a  way to create positive sentiment towards Iran, without decreasing negativity toward the Iraq central government. The immediate object would be to loosen the hold of the Iraqi central government by supplanting it in civil affairs. The ultimate goal would be functional political accession.

We can cut through  a lot  by noting that providing drinkable water could almost instantly erase the hostility that burnt out the Iranian consulate.

This involves Islamic charities as fronts for one or more of Iran’s charitable trusts, the bonyads. In Iran, bonyads are a large presence in Iran’s economy, accruing funds from bonyad owned businesses and acting as anonymous disbursement agents. Iran’s bonyads offer invisible capital flows, making it feasible to provide significant services and solutions in a small area of Iraq, as a kind of beachhead.

The model is provided by the Muslim Brotherhood’s accession to power in Egypt. The Brotherhood was illegal, and ruthlessly suppressed, until the 2011 revolution. But even in the shadow if illegality, the Brotherhood provided extensive services to the poor that ultimately was responsible for their accession to political power. (WaPo , 4-8-11) In Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood’s charitable works may drive political support. The opening paragraphs give the flavor (highlighting mine):

For needy families in this dusty village outside Cairo, Mohamad el-Seesy is a useful man to know….A devout member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Seesy, 45, leads an Islamic charity that has burrowed deeply into the community by providing an array of religious and social services.

The Brotherhood was not even legal at inception of these activities. Before 2011, It burrowed quite successfully in full view of Hosni Mubarak’s police state. A “second government”  sounds strange till we recall Joe Valachi’s revelations of La Cosa Nostra. Then it becomes very familiar.

The strategy of supplanting the functionality of Iraq’s native government in civil affairs has not thus been evident, though it is very obvious in the military sphere. But as we are separated by distance and culture, it is hard to appreciate how much knowledge Iran has of the hidden pulses of Iraq, with which they share a linked religious establishment.

Points:

  • Volatility means opportunity.
  • The evacuation of the U.S. consulate is convenient to Iran’s purpose.
  • Watch for an upsurge of charitable activity.

Basra is only 15 miles from Iran, closer than Pas-de-Calais is to Dover.

 

 

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