Arab Intelligence Official: Iraq Will Enhance Ties With Russia Following Mosul Battle

Iraqi forces deploy in the Bajwaniyah village, about 30 kms south of Mosul, on October 18, 2016 after they liberated the village from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Tens of thousands of Iraqi forces were making gains on the Islamic State group in Mosul in an offensive US President Barack …

Once the battle of Mosul is complete and if Islamic State is eradicated, the Iraqi government plans to enhance ties with Russia, an Arab intelligence official told Breitbart Jerusalem.

If IS is defeated, he said, “we’ll see great rapprochement, even a strategic alliance, between Russia and the Iraqi government.” He added that setting up a military infrastructure in the Gulf area would be a spectacular strategic achievement for Moscow. “Clearly, the Russians are after more than just another foothold in the Gulf.”

He said that, just like in Syria, Russia has launched a campaign, through its local allies, to sway public opinion in its favor.

“A few clerics, some very prominent, have called on the Iraqi government to allow the Russian air force into their air space to launch attacks on IS and the rebels in Syria,” he said. “In a country where clerics are very influential, especially among the Shi’ite majority, it’s a huge step forward for the Russians and their allies in the Iraqi government.”

He added, though, that the Iraqi leadership is still divided. “We realize that Prime Minister [Haidar] al-Abadi wants to maintain good relations with all his neighbors and wouldn’t want to become a formal Russian satellite, despite the existence of an anti-IS Russian-Iranian-Iraqi-Syrian command room in Baghdad. Abadi wants to get rid of the jihadists, but realizes that warming to the Russians would alienate the Americans, who have built the Iraqi army.”

According to the official, former Prime Minister and current Vice-President Nuri al-Maliki is the primary champion of closer ties with Moscow. “Al-Maliki, who is an Iranian proxy, bears much of the blame for the sectarian tensions in Iraq, and he’s the one doing Iran’s bidding vis-à-vis Russia.”

“To bolster Russia’s stand in Syria and make sure they don’t sacrifice Assad, Iran is ready to pay with Iraqi currency, and to this end they have recruited politicians like al-Maliki and Shi’ite clerics,” he said. “Closer Russian-Iraqi ties will deliver yet another blow to Washington’s allies in the Gulf and jeopardize American interests. Here too, the Russians seek to exploit the period of political twilight America will slide into right after the elections.”