With US forces sharing a military base with Iran backed Shia in Iraq, questions are now being raised about America’s relationship with Iran and the ethics attached to this partnership.
Jeff Dunetz cited a new report from Bloomberg earlier today which confirmed the shared base.
The main question now is whether the United States wants to be aligned with Iraqi Hezbollah, which has direct links to the Iranian Military and Qassem Suleimani.
A senior official in the Obama Administration is quoted in the report saying “Even if these [Iran-backed militias] don’t attack us … Iran is ushering in a new Hezbollah era in Iraq, and we will have aided and abetted it.”
Iraqi Hezbollah is also known by the name Kataeb Hezbollah and is recognized by the US government as a terrorist group.
In an ultimate twist of irony, Obama, who was elected as an antiwar candidate, may be helping to strengthen Hezbollah’s presence in the region. Worse yet, he may have no choice in the matter.
“Iran’s militia forces are the only effective boots-on-the-ground counter to the Islamic State at the moment,” John Hayward wrote at Breitbart. “A great deal of money and time has been invested in training the Iraqi Army, in accordance with the Obama administration’s strategy; the rout of Ramadi was the result.”
The threat Iran represents to Israel has been a top concern for many Israelis as well as some American lawmakers, most notably from the Republican Party.
If Hezbollah gains stronger footing in the region, critics of the administration will be able to point to support derived from the American military, however indirect. This also represents a breach of trust between the US and Israel despite a historically good relationship as allies.
Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who is an Iraq war veteran, released a statement Monday to The Weekly Standard’s Lee Smith, criticizing the shared base operations:
When I was a soldier fighting in Iraq, Iran supplied the most advanced, most lethal roadside bombs used against coalition forces. Many American soldiers lost their lives to Iran’s proxies and Iranian-supplied bombs. Further, Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism and has been attacking the United States for decades. It’s deeply troubling that the President now finds it acceptable to share a military base with this enemy, even while we are attempting to negotiate a deal to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
This report is a stark and nearly absurd demonstration of the Obama administration’s tacit accommodation of Iran’s strategic aim of extending its influence in Iraq. It echoes the president’s tacit accommodation of Iran’s wish to maintain Bashar al-Assad in Syria and his explicit accommodation of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Cotton was the author of a letter which was sent to the leaders of Iran in March of this year, reminding them that congress has powers that remain in effect after Obama is no longer president. The letter was signed by as many as 46 other Republicans and was harshly criticized by Democrats and many American media figures.
Earlier this month, James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence told Republican lawmakers that Iran and Hezbollah represent a direct threat to America and its allies.
Felicia Schwartz of the Wall Street Journal reported:
Mr. Clapper told Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee that Iran and Hezbollah “directly threaten the interests of the United State and our allies.” The intelligence community considers Iran to be the “foremost state sponsor of terrorism” and sees Tehran increasing its ability to influence regional crises and conduct terrorism, largely through Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Lebanese Hezbollah, Mr. Clapper wrote in the June 3 letter, the contents of which haven’t been previously reported.
In partnering with Iran backed Shia groups in Iraq, President Obama may have made a deal with the devil. Foreign policy and military experts will undoubtedly be watching to see if Hezbollah destabilizes the situation in any way.
If the group is connected to any future attacks on US armed forces or America’s allies, President Obama will have to answer for them and will have confirmed his critics’ greatest fears.