Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nationalism and the War on Sadr

(I promise to do my part and start scanning Kuwaiti papers for myself instead of glomming on what others find, but right now I would like to pick up on one other piece that RoadstoIraq.com cites and summarizes, in order to amplify an important point).

A writer in the Kuwaiti paper Awan had an op-ed today (Thursday March 27) that raised the whole attack-on-Sadr question in a somewhat different light from what we're used to reading (including here).

Important points in his telling of the history include these: After the Feb 2006 bombing of the golden dome temple in Samarra, in the dark and ugly period of organized sectarian killings, the other Shiite factions encouraged Sadr to take the lead, providing him with "political cover" and with practical items like police cars for travelling around Baghdad during the curfews, and so on. Sadr emerged stronger organizationally, and expected that his organization would be given greater importance politically too. This led to the series of political moves, eventually pulling his organization out of the so-called United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), which was supposed to represent the united Shiite front. And in this they were followed by the Fadhila party.

The writer continues:
So the game that Sadr began within the UIA led to a serious disintegration of the UIA itself, the ally of Iran, and this was intensified by the exit [from the UIA] of the Fadhila party, the political hegemon in Basra. None of the subsequent discussions aimed at reconstructing the Shiite house was successful. On the contrary, Sadr became stronger and stronger, and formed individual agreements with "enemy" blocs including the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni) and the Dialogue Front led by Saleh al-Mutlak. And most seriously of all, the discussions that joined the Sadrists with their old enemy Iyad Allawi. Now, is Iran going to stand idly by, watching part, at least, of the Sadrist movement escape from control? And then on the failure of mediations in Iraq [RoadstoIraq says this refers to the failure of the fourth round of US-Tehran negotiations on Iraq], forgive me if I say the stage was set for "armed mediation" aiming by fire and blood to convince everyone to restrain their spirits and work toward the reconstruction of the alliance with Iran, and form a more stable relationship between the Najaf "Sadr-Hakim" house, and the Shiite parties.

So the current struggle from the point of view of [explaining] Maliki's enthusiasm, is an Iranian war on Iraqi territory, or perhaps a Najaf war on Basra territory...
What I would like to point out is that whether you think it was Washington that pulled the trigger on this, or whether you think it was Tehran, from both points of view a key irritant was the fact that Sadr was forming agreements with Sunni entities. Washington has always favored the crypto-separatist Kurdish parties in the north, and the "federalist" Dawa-SupremeCouncil pair in the south, and the clear implication has always been is that Washington doesn't like the Iraqi-nationalist leanings of Sadr and those he has been dealing with on the Sunni side (including or course the demand for American withdrawal). What this Kuwaiti writer says is that those cross-sect moves by Sadr were a major irritant to Tehran too.

This doesn't really help us figure out which side pulled the trigger, or whether it was a jointly-agreed thing to do, but it does help underline the importance of the cross-sect nationalist character of Sadrist thinking, as something displeasing to both Tehran and to Washington--which is the most important depending on where you sit.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kevin said...

Now you are getting on the right track. This is an Iranian operation, probably Quds Force operatives are embedded into Iraqi Army units.

It surprised me how blind Americans were to Iraq. I read over and over on the left leaning sites who Cheney and Bush are all-powerful and ordered this attack against Sadr. The sad truth is that the US lost Iraq long ago to Iran and now it's the Persians calling the shots. Remember the President of Iran just made a visit there a few weeks ago. He would have approved the attack on that occasion.

10:11 PM  
Blogger badger said...

Of course, that wouldn't explain why it is we have Bush cheerleading this attack. In any event, my only aim was to call attention to the fact that there is one point that is common to (1) an Iran-fearing commentator in Kuwait; and (2) a Bush-Cheney fearing person in the West--and that is the view that probably the red-line that Sadr crossed was in setting out to establish a cross-sect political movement in Iraq. That's the whole gist of this, not speculating on the unknown mysteries of US-Iranian power-relations.

5:10 AM  

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