Streetwise Professor

October 10, 2012

Speaking of Filling a Vacuum

Filed under: Energy,Military,Politics — The Professor @ 1:33 pm

The sunk cost post mentioned filling the vacuum left by the American withdrawal from Iraq.  I specifically mentioned Iran.  But look who else is taking advantage:

Russian President Vladimir Putin will on Wednesday meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to discuss joint energy projects and ways to expand investment cooperation between the two countries.

Al-Maliki is in Russia on a working visit on Putin’s invitation. He has already met with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin.

Cooperation in the oil and gas sector and the power industry remains a key direction in bilateral relations. Large Russian companies Lukoil, Gazprom Neft, Bashneft and others work on the Iraqi market.

And there’s this too:

Russia announced on Tuesday it has signed $4.2 billion in arms deals with Iraq, making it the largest weapons supplier to the Middle East country after the United States.

The deals, disclosed in a Russian government document issued at a meeting between Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, give Russia a big boost at a time when the future of its arms sales to Libya and Syria is uncertain.

And, of course, the Alfred E. Newmans at the State Department have no worries:

In Washington, the U.S. State Department signaled it was not overly concerned by the Russian deal.
“Iraq overall has initiated some 467 foreign military sales cases with the United States. If all of these go forward, it will be worth over $12.3 billion, so obviously our own military support relationship with Iraq is very broad and very deep,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told a news briefing.

Look.  Russia has every interest in making trouble in this region.  Their deepening involvement in Iraq only increases their ability to do so. Is that so hard to understand?  In Foggy Bottom, apparently so.

And the State Department projects this “what me worry” attitude in the face of a clear alignment of Iraq and Russia on Syria:

Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s prime minister and the country’s most powerful politician, came out with some ground breaking statements in Moscow – not only on military-technical cooperation with Russia, but also on the worsening Turkish-Syrian conflict. Previously seen as a neutral party to the internal conflict between the government and the rebels in Syria, the Iraqi prime minister cracked up to be a staunch opponent of NATO’s interference in Syria – especially if the intervention takes place under the pretext of fending off a Syrian “aggression” against Turkey.

In an interview to the Russian news agency Interfax, al-Maliki dismissed the “tales about Syrian planes dropping bombs on the Turkish territories.” “Even if something like that happened, these stories are blown out of proportion,” the Iraqi prime minister is quoted as saying. “There is no need to use it as a pretext for a war and to get a whole organization, such as NATO, involved in Turkey’s defense. There is no threat to Turkey.” Al-Maliki said.

The statements of the Iraqi prime minister were made on the background of an unprecedented arms deal between Iraq, fresh from saying good bye to the American occupation force, and Russia. The deal, which envisages supplies to Iraq of Russian MIG29M/M2 fighter jets, anti-aircraft systems and MI-28NE assault helicopters to the tune of $4.2 billion was described as “a breakthrough” by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti defense analyst, Konstantin Bogdanov.

In other words: Maliki is parroting the Russian/Iranian/Chinese line on Syria.  So of course this arms deal and other chumminess is completely benign.  No worries!

And speaking of making trouble, consider this, FWIW:

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his allies have sought to destabilize the neighboring kingdom of Jordan by manipulating peaceful demonstrations there and turning them into deadly violence, leaked files obtained by Al Arabiya show.

. . . .

If Syrian President Assad had conspired to “create chaos” in neighboring Jordan, the high-classified documents leaked to Al Arabiya expose Russia and Iran of being involved in the plot.

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8 Comments »

  1. Yeah. Sure. All Obama had to do to keep US troops in Iraq was submit those US troops to Iraqi law and Iraqi law enforcement.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/10/201110542732166322.html

    Why do I think you and the little “amen chorus” you have here would have screamed your lungs out if Obama had done so?

    Comment by wanderer — October 11, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  2. You unwittingly identified the essential problem wanderer. The US should have dictated terms rather than being dictated to.

    Comment by pahoben — October 12, 2012 @ 7:18 am

  3. I’d like to see how. GWB had agreed that Iraq was sovereign, and that Coalition forces were there by agreement with the government of Iraq.

    So what form should the dictate have taken?

    Comment by wanderer — October 13, 2012 @ 11:22 am

  4. (crickets chirping as SWP hive-brain has locked up having been called on their Jacksonian bullsh*t)

    Comment by wanderer — October 14, 2012 @ 4:16 am

  5. Hardly, wanderer. Believe it or not, I do have other things to do than to respond to you. But a few free moments on a Sunday morning permit that.

    Clearly there is a middle ground between dictate and acquiesce to Iraqi dictates. Look. This is the Middle East. The land of the bazaar. There were terms to be negotiated, and it was clear that Obama had no interest in negotiating very hard. It wanted out. Everybody knew it wanted out. It got out. It could have haggled and reached a deal that maintained an American presence.

    Sovereignty is a red herring. The US has had troops for decades in sovereign countries around the world. Germany, Japan, and Korea are pronounced examples. Hardly American satrapies. We negotiate, and sometimes the negotiations are tense, and sometimes events (e.g., rapes by US servicemen in Okinawa) make the basing arrangements very controversial. But where there’s a will . . . .

    The difference in Iraq is that Obama had zero will. Zero. It made a strategic choice, and as I said in my post the logic behind this choice was defective in the extreme because it was driven by its antipathy for how we got into Iraq in the first place (a sunk cost), not about what strategic opportunities that created going forward.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — October 14, 2012 @ 7:08 am

  6. “Sovereignty is a red herring. The US has had troops for decades in sovereign countries around the world. Germany, Japan, and Korea are pronounced examples.”

    And in none of those cases was there the slightest resistance to our postwar presence. Not true for Iraq.

    “The difference in Iraq is that Obama had zero will.”

    You ‘Triumph of the Will’ types are all the same. Bush and Cheney had loads of will, and they got nothing out of the GoI but a departure schedule.

    Face facts. The GoI didn’t want us there, any more than they wanted Bush’s 2007 oil law.

    Comment by wanderer — October 14, 2012 @ 8:46 am

  7. (More crickets as SWP hive-brain recovers from having their Jacksonian bullish*t intellectually kicked out of them AGAIN. Boy! This is fun and easy!)

    Comment by wanderer — October 15, 2012 @ 2:54 am

  8. Dictates would be left to the appointed Governor-General and the Iraq Council. Hydrocarbon production would be administered by the Texas Railroad Commission.

    Comment by pahoben — October 16, 2012 @ 9:09 am

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