Are Turkey and Iran playing Tug-of-war with Iraq?

When the likes of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas align with Shiite groups and / or countries like Hezbollah and Iran, it is an alliance of convenience against a more hated enemy. When that alliance is no longer necessary, those allies eventually turn on each other. We’re beginning to see this dynamic taking place in Iraq, which has a government that all but reports to Iran’s mullahs. The fact that one of Iran’s top terrorists – Hadi al-Ameri – is Iraq’s Transportation minister bolsters that argument.

Now that the Untied States has pulled out of Iraq, the tensions between Iran and Turkey are escalating.

Via Wall Street Journal:

Iraq summoned Turkey’s ambassador on Monday to protest what it called Ankara’s meddling in Iraqi politics, the latest sign of a rising rift between Sunni Turkey and its Shiite neighbors.

Iraq’s government was angered by recent warnings from Turkish leaders that Sunni-Shiite tensions in Iraq could engulf the entire Islamic world, as well as by Turkey’s support for a Sunni rival to Iraq’s Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

“Turkey interferes by backing certain political figures and blocs” in Iraq, Mr. Maliki told The Wall Street Journal last month. “I believe Turkey is unqualified to intervene in the region’s flash points.” In a weekend interview with Arabic language Al-Hurra TV station, Mr. Maliki went further. “Unfortunately, Turkey is playing a role that could lead to a catastrophe or civil war in the region,” he said.

Iraqi officials were particularly angered by public Turkish comments on the case of Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq’s Sunni vice president. Mr. Hashemi took refuge in Kurdish-ruled northern Iraq late last year, after the government accused him of leading death squads against Shiites.

But analysts say the rapid deterioration of relations between Ankara and Baghdad also reflects the wider conflicting interests of Sunni Turkey and Shiite Iran in the wake of the U.S. drawdown from Iraq and of the Arab Spring, now lapping at the borders of both Iraq and Turkey, in Syria.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned on the eve of a visit to Tehran earlier this month against the risk of a “Cold War” developing between Shiites and Sunnis across the Middle East.

To Iraq’s north is another pocket of Arab Spring freshness in Syria. Bashar al-Assad is Iran’s guy, and by extension, he’s Iraq’s guy too. Turkey’s interests lie in seeing Assad lose to the Sunni / Muslim Brotherhood inspired wing of the protesters.

Read it all.


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