Thursday, December 11, 2014

US Strikes on Iran Special Forces: Deadly Blow to Fragile Ties?

Sources on the ground in Iraq exclusively told Sputnik News that the US Air Force carried out strikes against an elite Iranian military unit - a unit that Tehran denies is even in the country. If those reports are true, what effect will this incident have on the future of US-Iranian ties?
The US air strikes just outside of the Iraqi capital Baghdad could have significant repercussions for the US, Iran, and their extremely fragile bilateral relationship.
Tehran had previously confirmed midway that its Quds forces are advising the Iraqis, while adamantly insisting last month that no ground troops were deployed in the country. Although some may think that the death of Quds soldiers automatically means that they were ground troops, this would only be an assumption, as they very well could have been fulfilling the supplementary role of transporting munitions to the frontlines and not partaking in any combat. Anyhow, Iran is not predicted to admit any ground role in Iraq so far, with or without the death of Quds soldiers, as that would clash with its previous official statements on the matter.


Washington’s strike, if true, could either be mistaken or intentional, although even if it was the latter, it would never be admitted as such. More than likely, it would be explained away as being a tactical error due to the non-coordination between the US and Iran’s separate anti-ISIL campaigns in Iraq. If the US did strike the Quds on purpose, it would have done so for a few reasons, perhaps to send a message to Iran and remind it that ‘he who rules the skies rules the battlefield’ or to create a type of publicity stunt to ‘out’ what could have been actual Quds ground troops active on the ground. Other explanations are also possible, but it is too early and speculative to conclusively settle on any one in particular.

US-Iranian Relations:

Other than the soldiers on the ground, the other casualty of the US airstrikes would be the frail bilateral relationship between the two states. It’s an open secret that Iraq is, among other things, currently a proxy battleground between the US and Iran, with both countries conducting airstrikes there and advising the Iraqi Army, albeit with no coordination whatsoever. The proxy war, combined with the lack of coordination, could lead to disastrous consequences, such as that which may have happened in Jurf al-Nasr.

The most likely repercussion would be that some type of vague operational coordination would be used as a bargaining chip by the US in exchange for Iranian concessions during the next round of nuclear talks. This isn’t expected to be fruitful, since if anything, the bombing of Iranian special forces units in Iraq would do more to fortify the Iranians’ recalcitrance to the US’ future demands than bend them to its will. This could make the forthcoming negotiations a failure before they even had a chance to get off the ground.

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