Friday, January 25, 2008
President George W. Bush meets with Shaykh 'Abd al-Sattar Abu Risha, the former leader of the al-Anbar Salvation Council, one of the first Awakening Councils, who was assassinated by a massive car bomb outside of his home last September.
Middle East politics and media expert Marc Lynch, an associate professor of political science at The George Washington University and founder of the Abu Aardvark blog, reports on a program on the Arabic satellite channel al-'Arabiyya in which an alleged former leader of the Iraqi Islamic Army insurgent-nationalist movement challenges Bush Administration and Neoconservative claims that the formation of the "Majalis al-Sahwa" or Councils of the Awakening are signs of real "progress" in Iraq. Instead, this individual says that these councils, particularly the Sunni Arab ones in al-Anbar and central-northern Iraq, and their neighborhood militias were primarily formed by coalitions of powerful tribal shaykhs in response to the increasing influence of Iran. Sunni Arabs are increasingly skeptical and hostile to Iranian meddling and Iraqi Shi'i Arab political intransigence/triumphalism (for good reason.)
Most of Iraq's large Shi'i political parties are allied with Iran while, ironically, also being allied to the U.S. These parties include the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council and Hizb al-Da'wa al-Islamiyyah (Party of Islamic 'Call;" the word da'wa in Arabic refers to an "invitation" or in this case, missionary "calling".) The current Iraqi prime minister, the sectarian incompetent Nuri al-Maliki, is a member of the latter party. There are, however, other smaller Shi'i Arab parties which vehemently oppose Iranian meddling in Iraqi affairs.
It seems pretty clear that Iran is funneling money to its Iraqi allies, who, while still clearly Iraqi, are not opposed to a closer alliance with Iran, the largest Shi'i-run state in the world and a regional power. Iran's attempts to influence the political and social processes in Iraq are part and parcel of the so-called "Islamic" regime's attempts to dominate Twelver Shi'i religious discourse in order to establish the "Islamic Republic" as the premier Shi'i center.
In related news, Iran's conservative authorian establishment, dubbed in an excellent new book as the country's "neoconservatives," have reportedly blocked thousands of reformist candidates from seeking political office. The hardline regime headed by the "Supreme Jurisprudent" Sayyid 'Ali Khamenei and nominally represented by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who, under the Iranian system, has very little actual power and has his own blog) continues to ensure its short-term survival by squashing dissent.
Note: For the first time I have used in-text hyperlinks in order to, well, link to related items on what President Bush would call "the Internets." Hopefully, they will prove to be of some use.