First Blood? Iranians in the Battle for Iraq……..

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“Iran is pursuing a delicate strategy of supporting fellow Shiite Muslims and preserving its influence in neighboring Iraq—where the government is under siege by radical Sunni militants—without pushing the confrontation into outright sectarian warfare. For the second straight week, influential clerics, who are appointed by the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, used their Friday sermons to denounce the militant groups and support Iraq’s government. But their speeches steered clear of explicitly encouraging individual Shiites to act against the Sunni insurgents……… The country has openly sent top military advisers to help the Iraqi government, and blamed a collection of foreign enemies from Saudi Arabia to Israel and the U.S. for the violence. It deployed at least three battalions of elite Revolutionary Guards units to Iraq, according to Iranian security officialsan action Iran’s foreign ministry denied…………….Yet it has stopped short of sending in large numbers of its own troops and discouraged ordinary Iranians from crossing the border to fight or defend holy sites in Iraq.………..”

So which one is it, pray tell? Did they send three battalions of the IRGC as those usual “unnamed security officials” have claimed or is it untrue as the foreign ministry says? Is Brigadier General Qassem Suleimani of Quds Force in Baghdad as Western and Arab media have claimed for three weeks, or is he in Syria, or maybe in Lebanon, or could it be that he has snuck into Yemen? Can he be lurking somewhere in the Gulf trying to reinvigorate the mythical Wahhabi-created ‘Gulf Hezbollah’ smack in the middle of the royal police states?

Or maybe he is making some deal with the new Saudi ambassador-at-large Prince Bandar over a cold glass or two of Leban (in Gulf Arabic) or Dough (in Gulf Persian).

On the other hand the Iranian news agency IRNA reported that an Iranian citizen has died fighting in Iraq. It claimed he died protecting the Shi’a shrines; maybe, but that can cover a lot of territory in Iraq. It did not specify his military service or rank. Which means that there are now some Iranians on the front lines inside Iraq, and some of them will die. More problematic is that these Iranians will also be killing Iraqis, not a very good prospect for either Iraqis or Iranians. They will not be able to keep it private, anymore than it was possible for Lebanese Hezbollah to keep its casualties in Syria private.  A death and its aftermath are very public affairs for us Muslims, whether we are Sunni, Shi’a, Wahhabi, Sofi, Khawarij, or Episcopalian.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum