Speaking to Hugh Hewitt on Monday, surge architect Fred Kagan — who just last year wrote that “setting hard-and-fast timelines for the withdrawal of U.S. forces… is equivalent to accepting failure in Iraq” — explained how the new security agreement setting a hard-and-fast timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. forces is equivalent to a huge U.S. victory over Iran.
Kagan said “the Iranian leadership has been pulling out all the stops to get the Iraqis not to” sign the status of forces agreement.
The Iranians are desperate for Iraq not to align itself strategically with the United States, and they have been literally trying to bribe everybody they can bribe in Iraq, and running a fantastic information operations campaign in Iraq to make this an unpopular and hard thing to do. And the Iraqi government has done it anyway. And that is actually a great accomplishment for us, and it tells us a lot about where this Shia Iraqi government actually stands on whether it wants to be aligned with the United States, or whether it wants to be aligned with Iran.
As we’ve written before, the new Iraqi government is dominated by Shia parties which either have a longstanding supportive relationship with Iran (the Da’wa), or were drawn into an alliance of convenience with Iran (Muqtada al-Sadr), or were themselves founded in Iran, under Iranian auspices (ISCI, whose leader, Abdul Aziz la-Hakim, actually okayed the security agreement from Tehran). It’s patently ridiculous to claim, as Kagan does, that an agreement concluded with such a government represents a “defeat” for Iran, especially when that agreement happens to contain provisions that Kagan himself previously warned would represent American failure.