Iranian troops have helped the Iraqi government retake the City of Tikrit from the Islamic fundamentalist force – ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIS). The government in Baghdad is said to control 85 percent of Tikrit thanks to assistance from Iran’s Quds force, the overseas branch of the Revolutionary Guard.
A source in the Iranian security services told the Wall Street Journal that two battalions of Quds force were involved in the battle. The town was taken over by ISIS on Wednesday, after only limited opposition from Iraqi forces.
News of Iran’s involvement is likely to raise further concerns about the political situation in Iraq. Not least because it comes after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered two attacks on Camp Ashraf, a refugee camp that is effectively a prison to Iranian dissidents.
On one occasion the camp was attacked on the eve of the Prime Minister’s visit to Tehran, confirming fears that Iran has widespread influence on the Iraqi government.
Mr al-Maliki had been exiled under Saddam Hussein and lived in Syria. Whilst there he is said to have developed strong relations with the Iranian leadership. They worked closely together to try to topple Saddam’s Ba’athist regime.
The suggestion that Iraq may now be reliant on Iranian military forces to hold the country together opens the possibility of an expansion of the Tehran’s influence in the Middle East. Something that the West and Israel have been desperately trying to avoid ever since the Shah was deposed in the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979.
Instability in Iraq is now the key foreign policy problem faced in both Britain and America, with ISIS making daily gains and Baghdad begging for support from both Washington and London.
As reported on Breitbart London, this week saw the fall of Iraq’s second city Mosul to the militants. In response the Kurds began strengthening their position in order to create a buffer zone between their territory and what may well become an ISIS led Caliphate covering parts of Iraq and Syria.
Despite concerns about the situation in Iraq neither London nor Washington seem likely to offer much more than words of support. The British Foreign Secretary William Hague has already ruled out committing British troops to the country.