Andrew Korybko |
Both Great Powers are intensifying their military relations with the war-torn state in the wake of Daesh’s decisive defeat in Mosul, with news coming out over the past week that India offered military and humanitarian aid to Iraq while Iran just signed a formal cooperation agreement with it.
All three threats of which could easily travel cross-border into Iran if they’re not stamped out in Iraq first, which explains why Tehran has been so deeply involved in helping Baghdad for the past couple of years now.
India arrived at the scene after victory was already assured, unlike Iran which began to participate in Iraq’s anti-terrorist campaign in 2014 at a time when the country was on the brink of collapse.
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The Islamic Republic has pressing national security concerns in stopping the spread of sectarianism, terrorism, and separatism in its neighboring state. All three threats of which could easily travel cross-border into Iran if they’re not stamped out in Iraq first, which explains why Tehran has been so deeply involved in helping Baghdad for the past couple of years now.
At any rate and regardless of the true motivations behind it, the global community should welcome India’s assistance to Iraq because it will help the country rebuild after the war and reinforce its security.
India doesn’t have any such urgent considerations and is instead belatedly extending support to Iraq for the symbolic reasons of hopping on the international bandwagon, aiding one of its main energy partners, and putting on a show to mark its “Link West” policy of Mideast engagement.
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Although unstated, it can be safely presumed that India also wants to foster the long-term perception that it’s countering or competing with Pakistan for the loyalty of Muslim countries, as its leadership views International Relations solely through the “zero-sum” perspective and knows that this tacit messaging plays well to its Bollywood-indoctrinated domestic audience. At any rate and regardless of the true motivations behind it, the global community should welcome India’s assistance to Iraq because it will help the country rebuild after the war and reinforce its security.
This complex interplay of interests is made all the more intriguing too because India and Iran aren’t exactly on the same page with one another half of the time.
The US hasn’t commented on India’s military and humanitarian support to Iraq, but Reuters reported that Iran’s corresponding move will “raise concerns” in Washington, which is probably true. The US is engaged in a long-running Great Power rivalry with the Islamic Republic and doesn’t formally recognize Tehran’s pivotal anti-terrorist contributions to the defeat of Daesh, and has instead attempted to hijack its victories and claim them as its own. Moreover, US troops will more than likely remain in Iraq after the war is over, which means that American and Iranian soldiers will be deployed to the same battlespace as Iraq attempts to physically rebuild, downplay ever-present sectarian tensions, and keep the country unified amidst the Kurds’ upcoming independence referendum.
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This complex interplay of interests is made all the more intriguing too because India and Iran aren’t exactly on the same page with one another half of the time. Although they cooperate in the energy sector and are working together on the North-South Corridor, Iran is worried about the overspill of India’s Hybrid War on CPEC into its southeastern province of Sistan e Baluchistan, and it’s also been playing hardball when it comes to trying to squeeze more money out of potential Indian offshore gas investments. Furthermore, the Ayatollah recently spoke out twice in support of Kashmir for the first time in seven years, possibly in response to the historically unprecedented military-strategic partnership that Indian Prime Minister Modi has sealed between his country and “Israel”, which is Iran’s top foe.
What all of this portends is that post-Daesh Iraq is quickly shaping up into a zone of Great Power competition between a multitude of actors, which could complicate its much-needed recovery and doom it to a future of destabilization if their rivalry isn’t regulated.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.
Andrew Korybko is a political analyst, journalist and a regular contributor to several online journals, as well as a member of the expert council for the Institute of Strategic Studies and Predictions at the People’s Friendship University of Russia. He specializes in Russian affairs and geopolitics, specifically the US strategy in Eurasia.The views expressed in this article are author’s own. It does not reflect Global Village Space Editorial policy.