Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Tit For Tat?

Here's a story that will undoubtedly pick up steam, and I've got a hunch sooner rather than later. An Iranian diplomat, Jalal Sharafi, was abducted on Sunday in Baghdad by up to 30 armed men in Iraqi Army uniforms. Sound familiar? Maybe that's because of the incident in Karbala in late January, when four US soldiers were abducted and killed by a group masquerading as American GI's. American officials were quick to suggest Iranian involvement after that attack. So it should come as no surprise that in calling for Sharafi's release, Iran has put the blame for his abduction directly at America's feet.

Four Iraqi military officers are already in custody for the abduction, but questions remain about whose orders they were carrying out. Iraq and the US both deny any involvement, with the Iraqi Foreign Minister adding an expression of embarassment at the country's failure to uphold its obligation to protect the foreign diplomatic corps.

Now, I'm not sure which would be more alarming, this being an American operation, or the work of a rogue element within the Iraqi Army. The consequences of American involvement seem pretty clear: Escalation of the simmering proxy war between us and Iran.

But if this turns out to be an Iraqi job, it could mean that an internal conflict is brewing between Iraqi Shiites who embrace Iran and those who don't. At which point, there will be very little left of an Iraqi state to support. Whichever way this one heads, it's going to open up a can of worms.

Posted by Judah in:  Iraq   International Relations   Iran   

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