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Gatestone Institute: How to Help Iraq

The Obama Administration has decided to sell Iraq 36 advanced F-16 Block 52 fighters. On the surface this might seem a good idea, it would help Iraq, which we liberated from Saddam's tyranny, to defend itself. But perhaps it might be better to put off selling these planes to Iraq until Iran is "liberated," or at least disencumbered of its current regime. Why?

Iran now has great influence in Iraq: Shiites, who constitute the majority of Iraq's population and Iran's, suitably fear the Sunnis might slaughter them. The Shiite historic narrative is packed with stories of how both their historic figures and they were murdered by Sunni tyrants and dictators. As many Sunnis regard Shiites as apostates -- and as, in Islam, the punishment for apostasy is death -- there is a perfect, off-the-rack excuse for the Sunnis to murder Shiites. Since the Obama Administration withdrew US forces from Iraq, Iraq's Shiites are justifiably petrified, now that their US ally is gone, that the Sunnis will slaughter them. Although Iraqi Shiites traditionally loathe the Iranians, Iraq's Shiites know that at least the Iranians will not slaughter them like their Sunni neighbors. By abandoning Iraq, the US Administration has sadly given the Iraqi Shiites no alternative other than to look to Iran for protection.

Imagine that Iran had a new government which wanted to get along with the outside world, and no longer constituted a nuclear threat either to its Sunni neighbors, Europe, Israel or the US. Given Iranian history, there is little doubt that such an Iranian government would look to the outside world for help. As the majority of Iraqis are Shiites, and as Iran is overwhelmingly Shiite, Iran's government will be made up of Shiites irrespective of who rules that country; the Iraqis will still have to look to Iran as a big (though loathed) brother.

But if that new Iranian government were to be be allied to the West, what difference would it make whether Iraq had whatever it needed to defend itself? The Iraqis could then breathe a sigh of relief that both countries would be in the Western orbit and could look to the US for help in time of need.

So in helping to "liberate" Iran, we would be "liberating" Iraq as well: there would be no reason to worry further about Iranian influence in Iraq. And we could comfortably sell the Iraqis whatever they needed to defend themselves -- without worrying about Iran's influence there.

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