Congratulations to President Bush, etc! If there was any doubt about the wrongheaded strategic thinking that went into the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq, this should be the item that solicits an ‘oops’ from all involved. Iran had no love for Saddam Hussein who waged war against it throughout the 1980s. But instead of trying to seek accommodation, if not help, from Iran against its hostile neighbor, Iran was declared one leg of the Bush Administration’s ‘axis of evil.’
Many warned the neoconservative theorists that crushing Iraq would only strengthen Iran. And now, on this vital regional issue, Iraq is siding with Iran and against the US/Western strategy of wringing Syria dry with sanctions for Assad’s brutal repression of dissent.
According to Juan Cole:
It is not entirely clear. Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki does not state motivations. But it appears that two things are going on. There is a domestic reason; Maliki is worried about Bashar al Assad being overthrown. Assad belongs to the minority Shiite sect of Alawites. Many of Assad’s opponents are Sunnis- some of whom are Sunni fundamentalists. And some of those are the sort of people who were supporting the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. Maliki does not want them to come to power in Damascus and become his neighbors.
Another consideration that has been suggested is that Maliki owes his position as prime minister in this round [of elections held in 2010] to the support of Iran for coalition building of the Iraq Shiites. So he may be paying back a debt.