Hey Obama, what if it's HIZBALLAH instead of Al Qaeda ..oh yeah, of Afghanistan only
Iran plans province-by-province takeover of Iraq using militiasWASHINGTON -- A leading U.S. analyst said Iran has been organizing and equipping militias throughout southern Iraq. Iran wants to establish a nine-province Shi'ite enclave in Iraq under the authority of Teheran, he said.
"The level of Iranian activity in the south is very high," Anthony Cordesman, senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said. "The level in Basra is seen as a major threat."
Cordesman, a former Defense Department official who returned from a tour in Iraq, said the Iranian threat has become a major concern of the U.S.-led coalition. He said Teheran was supporting all the Shi'ite factions in Basra, which contains the largest crude oil reserves in Iraq.
Members of the anti Al Qaida 'Awakening' movement during a joint operation with U.S. soldiers on the outskirts of Baghdad in January. Baghdad's intelligence chief has claimed that Iranian secret service agents are working to "sabotage" the operations of groups fighting Al Qaida in Iraq. AFP/Jewel Samad
"It was made repeatedly clear, not simply by our intelligence experts but by those of allied countries, that Iranian influence is still continuing to build up the militias, to provide training, to provide weapons," Cordesman said in the Feb. 14 briefing. "There have been statements about Iran pausing or reducing its capabilities. I think that these have been episodic and cyclical."
Now, Sadr upon advice from the IRGC wouldn't have extended his truce in the hope that the coming American election would provide an even MORE favorable correlation of forces in the ME would he?
Cordesman said he did not envision a flood of Iranian weapons into Iraq or a Shi'ite offensive against the U.S.-led coalition. He said Teheran was supporting both the Sadr militias and the Badr organization on a "target of opportunity basis."
Still, the Iranian effort could eventually spark a war for control by Shi'ite militias in Iraq, particularly that of the Mahdi Army against the Badr group. Cordesman said the Shi'ite war would be larger than the struggle for control within the rival Sunni community.
"The struggle there is probably going to be more serious in the future than the struggle of the Sunnis," Cordesman said. "The Badr organization has had I think much better sort of coherence in training. The question is, does it have the same populist or popular base that the Sadr militia does."
Still, Iran has not yet formed a strategy for Iraq, Cordesman said. He said Iran plans to support a range of Iraqi options before any selection.
"Its ultimate goals, whether they are to have a major level of influence in Iraq, whether they are to create a friendly power, whether they are to create a strategic buffer, I think the answer at this point is possibly all of the above because I don't think Iran has that kind of clear single strategic option," Cordesman said. "And I think it is being very clever in the way that it is trying to exploit all of the Shi'ite factions at the same time and basically find out what it can get."