Sunday, January 25, 2009

All aboard

AP and AFP report on the visit of Maliki's national security adviser Muwaffak al-Rubaie to Tehran with a mention only of the issue of Iraqi commitment to expel the anti-Iran group MEK from Iraq.

The reporter for the Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar adds a couple of other points: First, the reporter says that Ahmedinejad, after urging the Iraqi government to complete its preparations for the withdrawal of the American forces from Iraq, added:
"It is true that America is headed for uful (word referring to the setting of stars), and that Iraq and the region are stronger than they were seven years ago, but still, we have to remain alert and not be fooled by their statements", referring to statements of the new American president Obama. And he said: "There is a group in America behind the scenes that continues to push for complete American control of the Middle East region".
Rubaie, for his part, said the Iranians support the coming local elections and are neutral with respect to the Iraqi groups and parties. And then the reporter switches to "sources", pretty clearly Iranian sources, writing:
Sources say the main reason for the armed confrontations that occurred last year in Sadr City and in Basra between the Sadr trend and the government forces was that they resulted from American intelligence reports that referred to noticeable progress then being made by the Sadr trend, and that this would consequently have an effect on the results of the provincial elections, which in turn will lay the foundation for the parliamentary elections, and based on that, there was an American recommendation that the Iraqi government move to limit the popular development of the Sadrists.
In other words, it appears Iranian sources are exculpating themselves, and blaming the Americans instead, for the anti-Sadr campaigns of Basra and Sadr City, saying at the same time that these campaigns were in fact political in the sectarian sense. I think if one pairs this with the recent article in the Kuwaiti paper AlWatan, (discussed in the linked post under numbered section 3) that showed signs of American sourcing behind the "Biden demands reconciliation" theme, one can see a pattern, and it is that both the Iranians and the Americans are anxious to get on the "end sectarianism/ promote reconciliation" bandwagon, following in this the clear lead of the Iraqi people, reflected in the proliferation of non-sect-based parties registered for the coming local elections. *

In fact, it now appears that the Sadr trend is a particularly popular target of cross-sect alliance negotiations ahead of the elections, having hosted delegations from Sunni tribal groups, the Islamic Party of Iraq, the Supreme Council, you name it, not to mention Maliki's own group. AlWatan summarizes recent meetings along these lines, noting that the Sadrists have adopted as a principle the old saying: "Better a government that is just if kafir (non-Islamic or "heretical"), than the government of a tyrant".


* It is true that the courtiers in Washington have not yet been handed this file. There could be many reasons for that, but as the poet says: "They also serve who only stand and wait".


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