The choice in Iraq appears to be between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand, ISIS need beating back. On the other, the West doesn’t want to further strengthen Iran’s grip over the Iraqi government.
For the time being, though, the West appears to have decided to work with Iran. The Americans have already held talks with them about what to do in Iraq and William Hague announced this morning that the British Embassy in Tehran will re-open.
But there is no guarantee that working with Iran will stop the emergence of a terrorist friendly, ungoverned space in western Iraq. As Steven Simon, a former Obama National Security Council official, writes in The New York Times:
‘it’s unlikely that Mr. Maliki will have the stomach to retake the Sunni-majority areas of western Iraq anytime soon. The rump Iraq, like the Assad regime in Syria, will be ever more in thrall to Iran’
It would be unwise to offer the Iranians too many concessions for their work in stopping ISIS’s advance. It is in their interests to prop up the Maliki government. So, there is no need to go soft on their nuclear programme in exchange for them doing so.
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