A Breakthrough Proposal for U.S. - Iranian Cooperation in Iraq

With all the talk of the U.S. and Iran working together in Iraq—here’s a modest proposal for possible cooperation: the two countries should join together to arm the Sunni insurgents in Iraq. It’s not at all as outrageous an idea as it sounds, since both Iran and the U.S. are already doing just that.

Indeed, in Baghdad this week a US military spokesman accused Iran of arming Sunni militants fighting in Iraq. Those arms, according to Major Gen William Caldwell, included mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades. According to the BBC, Caldwell went on to charge that the Iranians were not only furnishing weapons to groups fighting the coalition but training them too.

What do you know, but the
New York Times
also reports out of Baghdad that for the past few months the United States has also been quietly arming Sunni insurgent groups, many of which have previously been involved in attacks against U.S targets. The idea behind the U.S. policy is to provide the Sunnis the military wherewithal to battle militants linked with Al Qaeda who were formerly their allies.

Many Sunni insurgents have become disenchanted with Al Qaeda’s extremist Islamic policies and suicide bombings that have killed thousands of civilians. Though the Sunni groups have apparently promised they will not turn their new weapons against Americans, the fact is that most of the groups are still dead set against the U.S. occupation and the Maliki government.

A fact which makes several American officials in Baghdad question the whole concept. Others also point out that those arms being doled out to the Sunnis are almost certain to be used in the on-going civil war against the Shiites—who control the military and police that the U.S. has also been arming and training.

But, hey, why not put aside such misgivings. Imagine if the U.S. and Iran could forget the years of suspicion and hatred and instead pool their distribution of arms to Sunni insurgents. Just think of the possible savings involved, not to mention a great chance for these two traditional enemies—the U.S. and Iran—to work together in Iraq.

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