Monday, March 31, 2008

Proving a point

By Carl

There's a curious dynamic involved in
this story, one I haven't fully contemplated yet:

Iraqis returned to the streets of Baghdad after a curfew was lifted and the southern port city of Basra appeared quiet on Monday, a day after the Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr called for his followers to stop fighting and in turn demanded concessions from Iraq’s government.

Mr. Sadr’s statement, released Sunday afternoon, came at the end of six days in which his Mahdi Army militia had held off an American-supported Iraqi assault on Basra.

OK, the most obvious bit of information we can glean from this story is that al-Sadr is establishing that he is firmly in control of the Shi'ite faction in Iraq. Is this a prelude to his taking over the parliament? Or worse? Is this a signal that Sayyid al-Sistani is preparing to rule over Iraq the way Ayatollahs in Iran have for decades, as "Expwert Jurist"?

After all, he's basically turned on, and then turned off, the faucet of violence, keeping American and British troops dancing in the background while he held off allied-armed Iraqi forces to a standstill.

Clearly, he wanted to demonstrate that the nation will dance to his tune.

He also demonstrated the abject impotence of the American-chosen president, Nuri Maliki, who apparently couldn't crush an uprising any more effectively than the American-led Coalition of the Bribed!

There is an allegory about the lion and the fly, which applies to Iraq: In a fight between a lion and a fly, the fly cannot land a killing blow, while the lion cannot fly.

So it goes with Iraq and the insurgency: we are fighting a fight that we cannot win, despite our overwhelming force, and the Shi'ites know this lion cannot fly.

The ironic thing about this is, this was a fight, and still is a fight, that we didn't have to fight. The sponsors behind this fight, the Iranians, are perhaps the most sophisticated democratic government in the area, just behind India. Yes, the Ayatollah in Iran has supreme power, but if you look at society, even Khameni hasn't been able to stifle all dissent, or make women wear the burqa, or...well, you choose the field, and Iran has advanced fairly far in it, comparatively speaking.

That's not to say we should be holding them up as a model of the Middle East we'd like to see, but we could try working with them to bring them into the fold, so to speak.

Ahmadinejad may come off as a fucking loon, but if you carefully look at the ripples that he sends out, there's a very deep logic to his insanity and it is very profitable to Iran and to its peer nations. And I have no doubt that he speaks for the Ayatollah.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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