Iran had a good week
The United States has been rapidly losing influence in Asia these past few months, but this past week really solidified that loss.
Remember the shocking election in Iraq last month, that left an anti-U.S. cleric as kingmaker? The spin at the time was that at least it wasn't a win for Iran.
Iraqi election results leave Iran scrambling to preserve influence
Now fast-forward to yesterday, and that spin rings untrue.
Powerful Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has announced an unexpected political alliance with pro-Iranian militia chief Hadi al-Amiri in a bid to lead Iraq over the next four years.
...Sadr, a former militia leader who led two uprisings against U.S. occupying forces which left Iraq in 2011, has called for his country to be more independent from both Iran and the United States.
Amiri, leader of the Fatih alliance and a fluent Farsi speaker, is Iran's closest ally in Iraq, having spent two years in exile there during the era of Saddam Hussein.
Oops! Looks like Iraq just slipped into Iranian orbit and out of our sphere of influence.
There is one other ironic side of this story that needs to be addressed. Namely, who the Fatih alliance is.
A member of the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi who was elected to the Iraqi parliament on May 12 says he is proud his group is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, adding that US sanctions against Iran could affect the outflow of funds to militia groups in Iraq.
“The American administration or the congress classifying the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq means nothing to us,” Ahmed Ali Hussein told Rudaw. “I take pride today, because today the American government lists me on the terror list.”
Hussein, a leadership member of the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq running on the Sadiqun list, won one of the Shiite list’s 15 seats.
Sadiqun is a part of the Fatih coalition that won 47 seats, the second highest number of seats in the election.
So the same country we invaded in the name of fighting terrorism, that didn't actually have any terrorists in it at the time, now has a government in which a major political party is designated as being terrorists.
How pathetic, and ironic, is that?
That wasn't the only event worth noting this week.
Over in Syria we are alienating our only ally.
As neither the U.S. nor Russia would risk their relationship with Turkey by attempting to stop the attack and Syrian Kurds watched U.S. abandonment of Kurds in Iraq, Syrian Kurdish leadership reached out directly to Assad, with whom they had a complicated relationship, but one less hostile than their connection to Turkey and its Free Syrian Army allies as of late.
"Who's going to fight and die for us when we're not a reliable ally?" David L. Phillips, director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, told Newsweek.
"They turned to Assad, who's no friend of the Kurds, but we gave them no choice," Phillips added. "Make no mistake, the Free Syrian Army is a jihadist force. They mutilate the bodies of Kurdish fighters. The idea that we'd see the Free Syrian Army as anything but a terror army is ludicrous."
Turkey and it's jihadist allies crushed the Kurds in Afrin and the U.S. looked the other way.
But it didn't end there. Last week the U.S. and Turkey came to an agreement to turn over the Kurdish-held Manbij area to those same jihadists, and the Kurds were not even invited to the talks.
Several Syrian Kurdish leaders, including Ilham Ahmed, recently have said they are ready to have direct talks with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, a move many observers believe is a response to the recent U.S.-Turkish agreement.
“I still believe that the Syrian conflict needs to end by intra-Syrian dialogue,” she told Ahval. “Obviously, the U.S. doesn’t have a clear strategy in Syria, so we need to see our options with other Syrian groups.”
The Kurds can read the writing on the wall. They've agreed to talks without conditions with the Assad government.
Direct negotiations between Kurdish groups that control much of northern Syria and Damascus would reshape the seven-year-old conflict and - if successful - hold out the prospect of a deal between two sides which together hold most of the country.
Such talks would also complicate U.S. policy in Syria, which today rests largely on a military alliance with the YPG, the main Kurdish militia. U.S. forces have deployed in areas held by Kurdish-led militias during the fight against Islamic State.
Unlike rebels who have fought Assad, the YPG and YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have mostly avoided conflict with Damascus. Instead, they have focused on Islamic State and guarding their autonomy.
The areas controlled by Kurdish-led forces include oil, farmland and water resources critical to the economy.
If the SDF and Assad come to an agreement, U.S. forces will be booted out of Syria and our strategy of containing Iran will fail.