2006 December 04 Monday
Shiite Leader Asks Bush To Take Shia Side Against Sunnis

One of the options left for the Bush Administration to try in Iraq is to tilt in favor of the Shias. Shia leader and Iran ally Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim wants the US to kill more Sunni insurgents.

"The strikes they are getting from the multinational forces are not hard enough to put an end to their acts, but leave them (to) stand up again to resume their criminal acts," said Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) after White House talks with President Bush. He spoke at the U.S. Institute for Peace, a U.S. government-funded foreign policy institute.

Using the terms Shiites use to describe al-Qaida and the Sunni insurgents, Hakim called for tougher U.S. military action. "Eliminating the danger of the civil war in Iraq could only be achieved through directing decisive strikes against the Taqfiri terrorists and Baathist terrorists in Iraq," he said.

SCIRI runs the Badr Brigade militia. By contrast, Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who runs the Mahdi Army, didn't want Prime Minister Maliki to meet with Bush in Jordan recently.

Hakim is fading. If a new election was held analysts think Sadr would gain and perhaps become able to form a government without either Dawa or SCIRI. It would appear that al-Sadr's willingness to send his militias out to kill Sunnis (many of those killed just being Sunnis and not insurgents) while his party holds 6 cabinet positions has made him very popular among the Iraqi Shiites. So obviously the Iraqi Shiites put the willingness to kill Sunnis ahead of closer ties with Iran.

But Hakim's support in Iraq is ebbing, and there's talk in Baghdad of a new coalition to replace Maliki that would include neither Maliki's Dawa party nor Hakim's SCIRI.

If the neocons are correct in arguing that Iranian influence in Iraq is too great and a big threat then the US government should support new elections. SCIRI would go down to defeat and Iran's influence would decline. But my guess is that the neocons have greatly exaggerated Iran's influence in Iraq. The Iraqis do not need outside agents spurring them on to kill each other. They can get all worked up to do that on their own.

If the Badr Brigade had a larger roll in the death squad killings the neoconservatives would be touting this as proof that Iran is the real culprit. But the relative restraint (at least by Iraqi standards) of the Badr Brigades doesn't support that interpretation.

What I want to know: Will either the Badr Brigades or the Mahdi Army soldiers become willing to go into the Sunni Triangle and put down the Sunni rebellion against Shia rule? If they are just as unwilling to do that as the regular army Shia then I do not see how Iraq can be kept in one piece. If Iraqi soldiers will only fight for their own neighborhoods and towns then partition seems a more likely outcome as US forces are withdrawn.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 December 04 11:06 PM  Mideast Iraq Ethnic Conflict

Borat said at December 5, 2006 10:06 AM:

From what I've read Shia are adament (as are Sunni) that neither want to see a breakup of Iraq...but Randell you are correct. If they are not willing to fight for their country...well...break up in inevitable. I think Bush should bite the bullet and save lives, maintain religion stability, by moving for partition now.

One thing no great power has managed to discover is how to create a self sustaining liberal democratic artifical nation-state made up of divergent groups of near equal number who feel they have little in common. One major group oppressing smaller ones is common, but when most of the groups are equal in strenght...it is never stable.

The only places it seems to have worked are in Belgium and Switzerland...but Switzerland is so devolved politically it is hardly a nation-state by modern international standards (Belgium is similar and has more divisive politics).

Bob Badour said at December 5, 2006 1:39 PM:


You forgot Canada. It has held together for close to 140 years, but then again, who knows how long it will hold together?

Borat said at December 5, 2006 3:36 PM:


you are right. I left them out because Quebec has voted on independence in the last 10 years, and there is rumbling for independence again.

Then again...Canadians are just nice. If it was a third world country in SE Asia/South Asia/or Africa there would be no real issue, because there are more than enough English speakers to oppress the French speakers. :-) That is usually how it works. :-(

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