Basra is critical to the US strategy of controlling Iraq’s oilfields but once again, it seems, the US is not properly equipped for the task.

Out of the dramatic developments of the past week, several questions arise, the principal being that the Bush administration’s triumphalism over the so-called Iraq “surge” strategy has become irredeemably farcical, and, two, US doublespeak has become badly exposed. What stands out is that Washington promoted the latest round of violence in Basra, whereas Iran cried halt to it. The awesome influence of Tehran has become all too apparent. How does Bush come to terms with it?

What has happened is essentially that Iran has frustrated the joint US-British objective of gaining control of Basra, without which the strategy of establishing control over the fabulous oil fields of southern Iraq will not work. Control of Basra is a pre-requisite before American oil majors make their multi-billion investments to kick start large-scale oil production in Iraq.

Interesting that it is Iran that brokers a cease fire which in turn disrupts US plans for Basra.

To be sure, Cheney must be furious that Tehran torpedoed the entire US strategy for Big Oil. He has had a hard time shepherding the pro-West Arab regimes in the region, especially Saudi Arabia, up to this point.