Balance of Terror
“They act like our friends,” said Master Sergeant Tyler. “It is a façade to an extent, yes. They get benefits from having a good relationship with us and will do and say anything to keep us on their side.”
I heard rumors that the Iraqi Army colonel in charge of his side of War Eagle is himself a supporter of Moqtada al Sadr. I could not, however, confirm that with Military Intelligence. Maybe it’s true and maybe it isn’t. American soldiers there believe it is.
Nothing makes me more pessimistic about Iraq’s future prospects than this. The Mahdi Army is Iran’s major proxy in Iraq. It is, in effect, the Iraqi branch of Hezbollah.
The Iranians know what they’re doing. Lebanon was their proving ground. The Revolutionary Guards built Hezbollah from scratch along the border with Israel and in the suburbs south of Beirut during the chaos of civil war and Israeli occupation. In Iraq they’re simply repeating the formula, only this time more violently.
Most of Lebanon’s Shias were moderately pro-Israel before Iran barged onto the scene. 25 years later, and more than 15 years after Lebanon’s civil war ended, Hezbollah is still a menace to Israel and the elected government in Beirut. Hezbollah still has its own foreign policy. Hezbollah can unilaterally ignite hot wars with foreign countries whether Lebanese as a whole want war or not. The level of “stability” in Lebanon may be the best Iraqis can hope for in this generation if the Mahdi Army and its supporters are not somehow purged from the government, the military, and the police.