Tuesday, April 01, 2008

"The game is up"

Nahid Hattar, one of the prominent Jordanian opposition journalists, lays out the argument for what perhaps a lot of people instinctively grasp, namely that the events of the past week, even though they laid bare an intra-Shiite split, that split is actually a very positive thing. In fact these events, including what he calls the uprising of the Shiite masses of the South and Center of Iraq, mark the beginning of the end of the American occupation and potentially the start of a non-sectarian approach to Iraqi reconstruction. His main points:
(1) What happened in the South and Center of Iraq in the recent period of time represented the alienation of the main part of the Iraqi Shiite masses from the political/occupation process, changing instead to a violent clash with it, politically and in military terms. This in itself is an important turning point in the development of the Iraqi resistance, because the whole American defense of their project in Iraq rests on some inscrutable but assumed support of the Shiite majority, which, it is now clear, has gone over to the side of resistance and opposition.

(2) The growth of a mass movement in Central and South Iraq opposed to the American occupation, and to the government of sectarian allocations, and to its parties, not least the Dawa Party and the Supreme Council/Badr Forces, splitting the so-called Shiite alliance, and sifting or sorting the forces within each of the factions, on a nationalist criterion. [Meaning: Instead of being defined by existing political party, the new scheme involves choosing sides, between nationalist and sectarian, within each of the parties].

(3) Reining in the Iranian influence, and limiting it to the political parties and agencies that are aligned with the occupation. The broad Shiite mass-movement ranges between an attitude of complete antagonism to any Iranian intervention, including throwing out the Iranian intelligence agents--between that attitude and that of Moqtada AlSadr who speaks of "our brothers in belief" although he clearly rejects any "extension of their influence in Iraq either politically or militarily". [The quotation marks are his, but it isn't clear what he is quoting]. ...
His first sentence under "fourthly" presented a lot of problems, and a commenter pointed out my first rendition of it didn't make sense. (See the comments). I think Nahid Hattar's main point here is just that in some way the Iranians could have intervened in the interests of the Maliki administration to pressure the Sadrists, the Americans would have liked them to do so, but they didn't. So from this point on, he says, it's no good for any nationalist Arab to interpret the Iranian attitude as "murky" or "ambiguous" or to resort to explanations of that type, which don't stand up to the facts of the recent events. What he means, I think, is that if Iran had wanted to prop up a sectarian pro-Iranian government, this was its occasion to do so, and it clearly declined.

The writer concludes with a list of things Arab movements and Arab regimes should do to take advantage of this turn of events: (1) Opening up to the forces and the people representing this Shiite nationalism and supporting them; (2) new reconciliation initiatives, not between participants in the existing political process, but rather in the interests of unifying the national-unity and Arabist forces across Sunni and Shiite lines; (3) refusal to consent to Iranian influence in Iraq; (4) refraining from any kind of taassub (gang- or party-formation) or sectarianism; (5) reflecting on the experience of the regime of Saddam Hussein, and the forces connected with it, as something past, and studying together with Iraqis in an Arab framework, a modern Iraqi form for the new nation, for the period after the occupation, which is collapsing; (6) rejecting Kurdish separatism or any other kind of separatism.

Finally, he writes:
The uprising (intifada) of the Iraqi Shiites against the occupation and its cooperators is a sure sign that the hour of the defeat of the American project in Iraq is approaching. So perhaps it is already time for those who have wagered on the success of this project or on an Iranian success as its inheritor, to be warned that the game is up, because a free, unified, Arab and strong Iraq will be back. It is both in our interests and our duty to hasten the day of that return.
(Yet another hattip to RoadstoIraq.com for calling everyone's attention to this article).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"these events, including what he calls the uprising of the Shiite masses of the South and Center of Iraq, mark the beginning of the end of the American occupation"

Maybe it is just that I have gained and lost hope too many times in the last five years, but this seems a bit optimistic to me. I hope not. In any case, if it is not the beginning of the end, I would celebrate if it is the end of the beginning.

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What exactly is meant by Iran intervening militarily? I can't imagine the U.S. ever inviting Iranian troops into Basra. I can't Imagine Iran accepting as that makes them the occupier. It couldn't mean arming the Maliki government as the U.S. could do that just fine.

That statement just makes no sense.

12:03 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Good point Lysander. It is my fault. What the text actually says is "intervene to pressure the Shiite resistance..." It was I who messed that up by adding the expression "militarily". I plead exhaustion. (I wish blogger had that nice crossing-out function). That still leaves some uncertainty about that whole sentence, because I don't know exactly what he means by the American "request" on Iran to intervene. Anyway I think his point there is just that Iran could have intervened (in some way) to pressure Sadr and favor the Maliki government, and they didn't. I'm going to take the liberty of just repairing that.

5:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No worries Badger. I should have figured that out on my own. Thanx for being the only place to get the inside scoop on what's happening. The MSM will catch up only when something is too obvious to hide.

9:49 PM  

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