2006 January 04 Wednesday
US Influence Waning In Iraq As Iranian Influence Grows

A Christian Science Monitor article argues that US influence in Iraq is declining for multiple reasons.

As the weight of the Shiite Islamist victory in Iraq's election is still being calculated, US influence in the country - in reconstruction, security, and politics - is steadily receding.

While a diminished US role in Iraqi affairs was inevitable, the speed of the retreat raises some risks to the establishing of a stable, US-friendly Iraq. The Shiite parties that dominated the vote in December have closer affinity to Iran than to the US. At the same time, the Bush administration is planning sharp cuts in reconstruction aid, a major point of leverage in Iraqi affairs.

The Shias in Iraq know all the Sunni Arab governments do not like seeing Shias running Iraq. So that'll drive the Shias even more toward the Iranians.

But what alliances will the de facto Kurdish state form? They are landlocked. Will they build alliances with Syria? Iran? Are friendly relations with Turkey out of the question?

The Washington Post reports that the Bush Administration is going to greatly cut rebuilding in Iraq. Much of the reconstruction budget got shifted toward security and other needs.

BAGHDAD -- The Bush administration does not intend to seek any new funds for Iraq reconstruction in the budget request going before Congress in February, officials say. The decision signals the winding down of an $18.4 billion U.S. rebuilding effort in which roughly half of the money was eaten away by the insurgency, a buildup of Iraq's criminal justice system and the investigation and trial of Saddam Hussein.

A decline in the aid budget means a decline in money available to temporarily buy loyalties. This might cause an increase in the size of the insurgency.

The US government shifted much of the allocated $18.4 billion toward building up the Iraqi military, providing security on reconstruction projects (about 25% of their costs), to build prisons, and for other expenses. So the US probably didn't even spend half

The Iraqi economy was doing better before the war by some important measures.

Oil production stands at roughly 2 million barrels a day, compared with 2.6 million before U.S. troops entered Iraq in March 2003, according to U.S. government statistics.

The national electrical grid has an average daily output of 4,000 megawatts, about 400 megawatts less than its prewar level.

The article reports that more than $1 billion earmarked for electricity was shifted to fund police and security. The US government originally expected to achieve 6,000 megawatts of capacity. Read the full article for more details.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 January 04 10:35 PM  Mideast Iraq

Kurt said at January 5, 2006 7:49 PM:

Is anyone here really suprised about this? I mean, it was obvious from the beginning that the Iranians were the big winners in this whole Iraqi thing. Dubya and the Neonazicons were taken for a ride by Chalabi and the Iranians.

Invisible Scientist said at January 5, 2006 8:08 PM:

Just like Iraq was a monumental trap for the US ( I suspect that the Iraqis intentionally pretended to have a much bigger weapons of destruction programme than they actually had, and they used this bait to make the US invade Iraq, drawing the US into a protracted guerilla war ), the provocations of Iran are an even bigger trap. Right now, Bush is in a very complicated situation: in order to maintain influence in Iraq, Bush may imagine that (i.e. get manipulated into thinking that) the solution for him is to attack Iran, so that (according to Bush's logic), this would bring an end to Iran's influence in Iraq, allowing Bush to control the situation in Iraq. But if Bush attacks Iran, militarily this will not be as easy as Iraq, and the losses will be greater in all areas. On the other hand, if Bush does not attack Iran, then gradually the oil fields of Saudi Arabia will fall in the hands of extremists, which will be just the opposite of what Bush wanted.

Stephen said at January 5, 2006 8:53 PM:

Invisible, are you being serious? Are you seriously theorising that Saddam deliberately tried to get the US to invade his country?? Like what's the upside for Saddam? It seems to me that he did everything he could to convince the US that he wasn't playing with naughty toys.

Here's a theory though - the expat Iraqis that were feeding the US the dodgy intel were actually working for the Iranians. The idea being that Iran wanted to make sure that Iraq would never rise again to threaten them, and the only way to do that was to make sure that Iraq never rearmed. So, they use the expats to feed the US a stream of scare stories and thereby make sure that the US is on a hair trigger. Unfortunately, the scare stories took on a life of their own post-9/11 and the US fooled itself into believing them, and instead of merely maintaining the peace it decided to commit troops. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jorge D.C. said at January 5, 2006 11:14 PM:

It seems to me that he did everything he could to convince the US that he wasn't playing with naughty toys.

That is not accurate. Saddam encouraged a guessing game atmosphere. He wanted his regional rivals - especially his enemies in Iran - to believe he had the nastiest WMD ready to go.

Stephen said at January 5, 2006 11:22 PM:

Jorge, I've read that too, and agree it does have some merit.

Invisible Scientist said at January 6, 2006 11:55 PM:

Unless the United States has a secret robot army with tens of millions of machines as capable as the Terminator ( I mean the actual machine, not the actor who played that role ), then no attack should be made on Iran, because it will be very costly and inefficient. But seriously, the country that can mass-produce 10 billion Terminator robots within a year, can rule the world permanently, because there would be a Terminator guard watching you from every window, one wrong word and you are terminated.

Stephen said at January 7, 2006 6:07 PM:

But Invisible, the Terminators never win - just watch the historical reinactments available of 20th Century Fox DVDs.

Bob Badour said at January 9, 2006 6:22 PM:

But they never lose either -- they keep coming back in the next movie, er, reinactment, on the verge of decisive victory.

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