Iran Is Threatening Iraqi Kurds. America Should Be Worried

July 12 2022

The Kurds of northern Iraq, who have a degree of autonomy in their region of the country, have proved themselves loyal allies of the U.S.—leading the fight against Islamic State, maintaining good relations with Israel, and providing a bulwark against expanding Iranian influence. Moreover, the area controlled by the Kurdish Regional Government produces half a million barrels of oil per day, or one-eighth of the country’s total output. But the central government in Baghdad, over which the Islamic Republic exercises increasing control, is now claiming a larger share of that oil. In response to the ensuing legal dispute, writes Hussain Abdul-Hussain:

Tehran and its militias . . . started launching missiles against Kurdish energy fields and the houses of oil and gas tycoons. Iranian excuses have varied between claiming that the attacks targeted Israeli intelligence cells active in Iraqi Kurdistan and blaming Turkey for the attacks.

Iran exports 64 percent of its gas to Iraq and 33 percent to Turkey. As cheaper and more reliable Kurdish gas came online, both Ankara and Baghdad started relying on [Kurdistan] for their gas needs, especially for electricity production. When Iran instructs its Iraqi militias to hit Kurdish energy fields, it is often for reasons of commercial competition. . . . What the Islamist regime of Iran wants to see is a subdued Kurdish government that stops pumping energy, expels Iraqi dissidents, and ends its opposition to Iranian diktats inside Iraq.

President Biden is due to visit Israel and Saudi Arabia in mid-July. The White House said that “deterring threats from Iran” and “ensuring global energy” will be on the agenda during talks with America’s Middle East allies. Biden must remember that confronting Iran’s destabilizing activity should include supporting the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government, its militia, and its drive to get more energy to a desperately starved global market.

Read more at Asia Times

More about: Iran, Iraq, Kurds, Oil, U.S. Foreign policy

The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship