BAGHDAD, IRAQ - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tuesday said that "a huge power vacuum" was imminent in Iraq and promised that Iran would be ready to fill it. This plainly-stated desire by the totalitarian regime in Tehran to overtly interfere in the affairs of a sovereign nation -- while simultaneously accusing the US of doing so, despite the fact that coalition forces are still present in Iraq at official invitation of that nation's sovereign government -- should come as no surprise to any who have followed the course of the Iraq war (and postwar) to this point.
From establishing training and base camps for both Shi'a and Sunni fighters (further proof - as if more was needed that sectarian lines are not an obstacle to cooperation if there is a common enemy to be fought), to funding and equipping insurgents within Iraq, Iran's ever-growing involvement in the fight against Iraq, and against the United States within that country, has been both real and pronounced for several years now. That involvement not only includes sending soldiers from the elite Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard across Iraq's eastern border, it also includes supplying terrorists in Iraq with rockets, assault weapons, and the materials necessary to assemble EFPs (explosively-formed penetrators -- an improvised explosive device which, in the past two years, has become the number one killer of American troops in Iraq).
Major General Rick Lynch, commander of the Ft. Stewart, GA's 3rd Infantry Division (whose 3rd Brigade is one of the ‘Surge' Brigades), which is responsible for the area of Iran from Baghdad south to Salman Pak and the Tigris River Valley, publicly stated that his soldiers are currently "tracking about 50 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps in [their] area," saying that, while none have been captured at this point, they "are being targeted" like any other insurgent fighters.
Recently, a Public Affairs officer within Multinational Force-Iraq privately expressed his concern to me that the media were spiking or deliberately misrepresenting reports made by the military about Iranian involvement and the capture of Persian fighters within Iraq.
"We would arrest three members of the al Quds force (part of the Revolutionary Guard), and the story that would come out in the papers the next day would be, ‘Three Iranian diplomats arrested from embassy.' I'd call the folks at the papers and say, ‘Look, these folks weren't diplomats, and they weren't at an embassy. They're Iranian soldiers and they were taken while fighting against the coalition in Iraq.' I'd say to them, ‘We have evidence - from weapons to ID cards to uniforms - that proves beyond a doubt who and what they are,' and I'd offer to bring them in and walk through each piece of evidence with them.
"They'd never take me up on it, and would never correct their stories."
Ahmadinejad declared that Iran would work with "neighbors and regional friends like Saudi Arabia" to replace the US in Iraq should a withdrawal take place. Saudi Arabia has, as yet, issued no response to this claim, although common sense would suggest that any dealings the Sunni state had with Shi'a Iran regarding the future of Iraq would be approached with the lessons learned from Russia's 1939 treaty with Hitler's Germany freshly borne in mind. Given the demographics of Iraq (overwhelmingly Shi'a, especially in that southern area closest to Saudi Arabia) and of Saudi itself, whose sizable Shi'a population (located in its eastern oil fields) revolted during the Iranian overthrowing of the Shah, as well as Iran's highly-publicized calls for the destruction of a fellow United Nations member country, it is difficult to imagine the Saudis entering into any agreement with the Persian state -- a natural rival well before the Iraq situation became what it is now - without fully acknowledging the likelihood of the latter violating that good faith.
Add to this Iran's war on the Kurds in its northwest reaches -- a battle which has crossed over into Iraq, and which has caused a number of Iraqi Kurds to flee their mountain homes in search of safety from Persian artillery. Then consider the Iranian funding and arming of terrorists, both Sunni and Shi'a, in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and in Syria and Lebanon, and the picture of the Middle East becomes one of several states and regions. All of these are being interfered with, influenced, or taken on militarily by Iran. Iran appears to have far greater imperialistic and hegemonic designs than most in the area, let alone in the generally-out-of-touch West, have ever dared to contemplate and would ever dare to admit.
Further threatening the region is Iran's blatant pursuit of nuclear weapons -- something which is untenable not only to the US and to Israel, but to Saudi Arabia, which has long depended on America's nuclear capability to act as its own deterrent. Should a rival state in such close proximity suddenly arm itself with nuclear weapons, the balance of power in the region would be even further skewed, resulting in (as the least of our worries) a new nuclear arms race among Muslim states.
This does not even take into account the crisis such a development would cause for Israel, as a nation whose leader has repeatedly and openly called for their destruction would be able to reach them with weapons capable of making that Muslim fantasy a devastating reality. The response by too many in the West to this last, of course, is at best to ignore it, and at worst to applaud the unspeakable barbarism required to commit such an act. In the end, those who swore to "never forget" Europe's own horrific crime against the Jews -- the Holocaust -- and who swore "never again" to allow such an act, are sitting idly by as the next one rapidly approaches.
Sadly, Tehran has chosen this course for itself, entirely independent of international action or of any need to do so. Their "foreign policy" of kidnapping soldiers, diplomats, and tourists for use as bargaining chips, of calling for the annihilation of fellow UN member states, and of sending money and materiel across their western border into a separate and sovereign nation, in hopes of killing as many American soldiers and Iraqi people as possible, is entirely -- and sickeningly -- self-directed.
No third parties or overly aggressive rivals are forcing them to act in such an overtly hostile manner not only toward their neighbors, but also toward the West. Iran has made every one of these choices on its own.
Given this, it is of the utmost importance that the people of America and her fellow Western nations begin to pay attention to the aggression being demonstrated by a hostile Iran. It is time to choose to accept, rather than to obfuscate, through chosen ignorance or through media distortion, the indisputable fact that, whether we like it or not, Iran is not only at war with the sovereign state of Iraq, as well as with America. We must also acknowledge tjay Iran has designs much grander and much more terrible than simply being a force of influence in its neighbors' internal politics.
Iran, quite simply, seeks regional hegemony and their oft-stated second goal of the utter destruction of Israel, along with every one of its citizens.
Iraq is simply the first battleground in a much larger war not only for the Middle East, but for the West as well. Along with this larger war (as has been repeatedly promised by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad himself) a second Holocaust is coming.
To all of those who promised "never again": wake up now - it is coming. It has already begun in Iraq, and will only grow from there. It is not too late to stop it; however, if the West does not overcome its complacency in the very near future, then it may not be too long before it is in fact too late.
Jeff Emanuel, a special operations veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and a director of conservative weblog RedState.com, is currently embedded with the US military on the front lines in Iraq. His mission is 100% funded by reader donations, and his reports can be seen at jeffemanuel.com