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New Republic - November 25, 2019

In 2013, a decade after the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division entered Baghdad and toppled Saddam Hussein, the service undertook a major exercise in self-reflection. Commissioned by Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief, and finished under Gen. Mark Milley—now the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the Army’s two-volume, 1,300-page assessment of the Iraq War, published in January, is a damning look at the Pentagon’s hubris that concludes with a single stunning declaration: “At the time of this project’s completion in 2018, an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.”

We now know exactly how that victory was won, according to a newly published trove of Iranian intelligence cables: with the unwitting help of the United States.

The cables, obtained last week by The Intercept from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and published in conjunction with The New York Times, provide an almost dramatic retelling of how Iran took advantage of the institutional chaos that followed the 2004 U.S. invasion, filtering through nearly every aspect of Iraqi political and economic life. The Intercept reports that, as recently as last month, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani—head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force—arrived in Baghdad to help prop up Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, while hundreds of protesters laid siege to the government over his ouster.

“Having broken the country, the United States now needed to buy it. In reality, the U.S. shattered Iraq and ultimately walked away,” according to the Intercept. “It was Iran that ended up figuring out what to do with the pieces.” ...
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