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|