Monday, August 28, 2006

Pro-American, Pro-Iranian Party Calls for Dismemberment of Iraq (Good)

"A Mixed Story," by Juan Cole, Informed Consent,, 30 January 2005 (from tdaxp).

"Groceries and Election Results...," by river, Baghdad Burning,, 18 February 2005 (from tdaxp).

"A Defeat for the Iraqi Constitution Is a Victory for Iraq," by NYkrinDC, New Yorker in DC, 16 October 2005,

"Call for Shiite Autonomy as Iraqi Tribal Chiefs Meet," by Karnal Taha, AFP, 26 August 2006, (from Democratic Underground).

SCIRI - the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq - is the largest political party in Mesopotamia. Like other large Iraqi parties, it has attempted a strategy of friendship with Iraq's natural allies, Iran and the Untied States. This has earned SCIRI distrust from Baa'thi sympathizers

Then there’s Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). He got to be puppet president for the month of December and what was the first thing he did? He decided overburdened, indebted Iraq owed Iran 100 billion dollars.

and commentators who just hate Bush

I'm just appalled by the cheerleading tone of US news coverage of the so-called elections in Iraq on Sunday. I said on television last week that this event is a "political earthquake" and "a historical first step" for Iraq.It is an event of the utmost importance, for Iraq, the Middle East, and the world. All the boosterism has a kernel of truth to it, of course. Iraqis hadn't been able to choose their leaders at all in recent decades, even by some strange process where they chose unknown leaders.

Yet in spite of hope that terrorist minorities would defeat the democratic process, SCIRI and its Shia-Kurdish partners (mainly Dawa, the Kurdish Democratic Party, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) established a Constitutional Democracy in Iraq.

Now the Shia want out

At the same time Saturday one of Iraq's most influential politicians called for the vast and oil-rich Shiite region south of the capital to become a self-governing area stretching from the holy city of Najaf to the port of Basra.

Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), said a referendum should be called in the region to endorse a breakaway, an idea which is fiercely opposed by Sunni leaders.

The reason is obvious: the American military has been more interested in appeasing terrorists than supporting democracy. Instead of recognizing that our enemies come from a violent minority that has no interest in democracy, we subvert democracy. We should celebrate when the Kurdish North and Shia South liberate themselves from their former terrorist masters. We should embrace those who kill terrorists instead of attacking our natural allies.

Support the Iraqi struggle against terrorists. Support the dismemberment of Iraq.

12:40 Posted in Iraq, Juan Cole | Permalink | Comments (5) | Tags: sciri, hakim, shia, basra

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Good News from Iraq

"Iraq Violence May Provoke Shiite Backlash," by Patrick Quinn, Associated Press, 7 January 2005,

"Shiite Crowds Protest Bombings, US Support for Sunni Arabs; 11 GIs Killed," by Juan Cole, Informed Comment, 7 January 2005,

I've celebrated Iranian cooperation with Basra and the strength of Kurdish separatism. Now, more good news from Iraq:

The rallies and threats by the Iraq's largest Shiite religious party to react with force if the militant attacks continue have renewed fears that paramilitary militias - now thought to make up part of some elite police units- would take to the streets and carry out reprisals.


"We're going to crush Saleh al-Mutlaq with our slippers," they chanted, many armed with automatic weapons. "No, no to Zalmay. No, no to terrorism." It is an insult in Arab culture to touch someone with shoes, which are considered unclean.


The demonstration was organized after Friday prayers by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq - one of two religious parties that makes up the governing Alliance.

SCIRI and Badr Brigade Secretary-General Hadi al-Amiri have both blamed hardline Sunni groups of inciting the violence, and said the Defense and Interior ministries - both dominated by Shiites - were being restrained by the U.S-led coalition and had to be unleashed.

He told the pan-Arab Al-Arabyia television that the government told the U.S. "that they should not give any cover to terrorism."

This is exactly what we need in Iraq. Iraq is an artificial country. We can spend blood and will trying to save this relic of British Colonialism, or we can focus on shrinking the gap and building connectivity.

The Kurds in the north make up about 20% of Iraq, and should be their own country. The Shia in the South make up about 60% of Iraq, and should be their own country. There is no reason why these two peoples, who both want connectivity, must be held back by the 15% of Iraqis who belong to a nation unready for the modern world.

If we can connect the 85% of Iraqis who want it by allowing them to defeat terrorist-infested Sunni Arab networks, we should do it.

The prize is bigger than just Iraq. Globalization spreads globalization: let the reverse domino theory work.

Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari complained while on pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia about the poor quality of Saudi preparations for the event. Some 53 pilgrims died when their hostel collapsed. Tragedies during pilgrimage are so frequent that many observers believe the Saudis are neglecting their duties as hosts of the event.

The Saudi minister of the interior, Prince Naef, angrily rejected Jaafari's criticism, saying that he was just posturing in hopes of salvaging his fading political career. (In fact, Jaafari has a real shot of being the prime minister of Iraq again). The Saudis also said they had be nice enough to let the Iraqi delegation come in numbers greater than their allotted quota, implying that Jaafari was being ungracious.

Tension between the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq and the Wahhabi state in Saudi Arabia have been high since September, when a major Saudi prince castigated the United States for spreading Iranian influence in the region by installing Iraqi Shiites in power.

One of the great pay-offs of the Iraq War is permanently weakening Saudi power. The American liberation of Iraq freed Iraq, letting her join Iran as a sister Shia republic on the Persian Gulf. East Arabia, currently occupied by the Saudi Tyranny, is the third

Besides being Shia, East Arabia holds most of the the Saud family's oil. Saudi Arabia applauds terrorism, Saudi TV is as antisemitic as Hugo Chavez, and the Saudis run pro-terrorist camps for children. Helping the Shia in Iraq finally free themselves from the nuisance of Sunni terrorism would allow them to spread their connectivity to their imprisoned brothers in the Saudi south.

Shia Militias that attack terrorist-supporting Sunnis should be welcomed. They are part of a well-built Military-Industrial-SysAdminComplex just as much as firms like Blackwater, or the US Army for that matter. The Shia should rise up, free themselves from terror, and build their future. We shouldn't stop them,

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Forcing Common Interests With Iran

"Groceries and Election Results...," by river, Baghdad Burning,, 18 February 2005.

The possibly-defunct Riverbend is skeptical of the Iranian leanings of the Iraq's popular new government

“And is Iran so bad?” He finally asked. Well no, Abu Ammar, I wanted to answer, it’s not bad for *you* - you’re a man… if anything your right to several temporary marriages, a few permanent ones and the right to subdue females will increase. Why should it be so bad? Instead I was silent. It’s not a good thing to criticize Iran these days. I numbly reached for the bags he handed me, trying to rise out of that sinking feeling that overwhelmed me when the results were first made public.


Is anyone surprised that the same people who came along with the Americans – the same puppets who all had a go at the presidency last year – are the ones who came out on top in the elections? Jaffari, Talbani, Barazani, Hakim, Allawi, Chalabi… exiles, convicted criminals and war lords. Welcome to the new Iraq.

Ibraheim Al-Jaffari, the head of the pro-Iran Da’awa party gave an interview the other day. He tried very hard to pretend he was open-minded and that he wasn’t going to turn the once-secular Iraq into a fundamentalist Shia state but the fact of the matter remains that he is the head of the Da’awa party. The same party that was responsible for some of the most infamous explosions and assassinations in Iraq during the last few decades. This is the same party that calls for an Islamic Republic modeled like Iran. Most of its members have spent a substantial amount of time in Iran.

Jaffari cannot separate himself from the ideology of his party.

Then there’s Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). He got to be puppet president for the month of December and what was the first thing he did? He decided overburdened, indebted Iraq owed Iran 100 billion dollars. What was the second thing he did? He tried to have the “personal status” laws that protect individuals (and especially women) eradicated.

Ignoring the fact that SCIRI wants an Iranian-style Guardian Council while Dawa is quietest, these American-Iraqi-Iranian common interests are great news.

I've mentioned the Iraq War's objective of forcing common interests with Iran. Iran is a cynical and realistic power, and Bush is wisely building a natural alliance with the future democratic government.

Around the dial


  • Pakistan is a failing nuclear state whose core competency is causing trouble. From potentially ending Indian demand for Middle East oil (by provoking a nuclear war) to incitement of anti-Shia violence, Islamabad is trouble. It is trouble for both Tehran and Washington.

  • Afghanistan is a weak state and should be kept that way. "Strong" Afghan states tend to be run by Pashtuns who join their Paki brothers in killing foreigners (Russians, Shia, and Americans being favorite targets).

  • Turkmenistan is a crazy Stalinist dictatorship. Iran has a history with Stanlists regimes -- it fought an eight year war with Ba'athi Iraq.

  • Russia and the Caucuses answer the age old question: "What happens when violent, fanatical extremists encounter a violent, decaying empire?" Salafists and the Russian Army have joined together in destroying Chechnya and retarding peace efforts in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Iran fought a war against Taliban Afghanistan in the 1990s - it does not need a string of failed states to its northwest in the 2000s.

  • Iran's enlightened ethnic policies have kept its Kurds relatively happy, and led to natural ties with Kurds across the Turkish and Iraqi frontiers. Kurds are also military allies of the United States and Britain since the 199s0.

  • Likewise, Shia Iraq is an ally of both America and Iran. The American dream of democracy and the Iranian dream of Shia rule combine in Iraq as nowhere else (except Iran itself). If either party gets bored of the relationship, the Salafists-Ba'athists will make sure they remember.

  • Across the Shia Gulf, the occupied nation of Eastern Arabia suffers under the Wahabi yoke. The Saudis' "hanging around guys" cause trouble for us, too.

The Bush Administration's successful dance with Iran has been incredible. Keep up the great work!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Juan Cole Crack-Up, Part 2

"A Mixed Story," by Juan Cole, Informed Consent,, 30 January 2005.

I'm just appalled by the cheerleading tone of US news coverage of the so-called elections in Iraq on Sunday. I said on television last week that this event is a "political earthquake" and "a historical first step" for Iraq.It is an event of the utmost importance, for Iraq, the Middle East, and the world. All the boosterism has a kernel of truth to it, of course. Iraqis hadn't been able to choose their leaders at all in recent decades, even by some strange process where they chose unknown leaders.

Oh? Is Cole saying that Allawi and Hakim are unknown?
Or less known that challengers in most American elections?
Or that it's unclear what Allawi's policies would be?
Or what the Kurdistan Alliance wants?
Or is Cole complaining about proportional parliamentary representation in general?

But this process is not a model for anything, and would not willingly be imitated by anyone else in the region. The 1997 elections in Iran were much more democratic, as were the 2002 elections in Bahrain

Let's see... what else happened in Bahrain in 2002...

In February 2002, Amir HAMAD bin Isa Al Khalifa proclaimed himself king. In October 2002, Bahrainis elected members of the lower house of Bahrain's reconstituted bicameral legislature, the National Assembly.

Well, there's always...

and Pakistan.


The election of President Pervez Musharraf's candidate for Prime Minister of Pakistan is a big victory for Musharraf, and for U.S. efforts to retain Pakistan's support in the war against terror. Zafarullah Khan Jamali, 58, a tribal chieftain from Baluchistan, narrowly defeated his closest rival, a pro-Taliban preacher. But his slim, one-vote majority reeked of political bullying and dealmaking. It was an arrangement rigged outside Parliament, struck in lengthy telephone calls to an exiled politician hoping for a comeback and, a losing candidate claims, tainted by bribes and threats.

Continuing with Cole...

Moreover, as Swopa rightly reminds us all, the Bush administration opposed one-person, one-vote elections of this sort. First they were going to turn Iraq over to Chalabi within six months. Then Bremer was going to be MacArthur in Baghdad for years. Then on November 15, 2003, Bremer announced a plan to have council-based elections in May of 2004. The US and the UK had somehow massaged into being provincial and municipal governing councils, the members of which were pro-American. Bremer was going to restrict the electorate to this small, elite group.

I would imagine that the Allied Occupation of Germany gives the live to a supposed devotion to Deutche federalism.

Embracing Defeat, a book quite sympathetic to communist and leftist elements in Japan during the Occupation, criticizes SCAP for reversing some of its demilitarization and democratization plans. But Cole's writing is hyperbole. Perhaps he should learn the history of the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers before he talks about people wanting to "be MacArthur."

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani immediately gave a fatwa denouncing this plan and demanding free elections mandated by a UN Security Council resolution. Bush was reportedly "extremely offended" at these two demands and opposed Sistani.

An alternative explanation is in America's Secret War.

I'm not sure what the truth is, but considering President George Bush's democratic speeches, I doubt he was "extremely offended."

Bremer got his appointed Interim Governing Council to go along in fighting Sistani. Sistani then brought thousands of protesters into the streets in January of 2004, demanding free elections. Soon thereafter, Bush caved and gave the ayatollah everything he demanded. Except that he was apparently afraid that open, non-manipulated elections in Iraq might become a factor in the US presidential campaign, so he got the elections postponed to January 2005. This enormous delay allowed the country to fall into much worse chaos, and Sistani is still bitter that the Americans didn't hold the elections last May. The US objected that they couldn't use UN food ration cards for registration, as Sistani suggested. But in the end that is exactly what they did.

This had nothing to do with the fact that:

The food ration card plan was opposed because the Ba'athis had drawn up the cards, so it would underrepresent Shia and Kurds, and
Shia and Kurds declared they didn't care, as long as the election was soon as possible?

Politics is complicated. Again, I don't know everything. But not every situation is a conspiracy.

So if it had been up to Bush, Iraq would have been a soft dictatorship under Chalabi,

Like Afghanistan is now a soft dictatorship under Karzai?

or would have had stage-managed elections with an electorate consisting of a handful of pro-American notables.

SCIRI is so pro-American. So are the Iranians.

It was Sistani and the major Shiite parties that demanded free and open elections and a UNSC resolution. They did their job and got what they wanted. But the Americans have been unable to provide them the requisite security for truly aboveboard democratic elections.

How many polling places were overrun by insurgents? None.
What fraction of the country voted? About 60%.
But this is not "truly aboveboard."

With all the hoopla, it is easy to forget that this was an extremely troubling and flawed "election." Iraq is an armed camp. There were troops and security checkpoints everywhere. Vehicle traffic was banned. The measures were successful in cutting down on car bombings that could have done massive damage. But even these Draconian steps did not prevent widespread attacks, which is not actually good news. There is every reason to think that when the vehicle traffic starts up again, so will the guerrilla insurgency.

Zen Pundit has the goods.

The Iraqis did not know the names of the candidates for whom they were supposedly voting. What kind of an election is anonymous! There were even some angry politicians late last week who found out they had been included on lists without their permission. Al-Zaman compared the election process to buying fruit wholesale and sight unseen. (This is the part of the process that I called a "joke," and I stand by that.)

Which one is it? Are candidates secret? Or are names associated with lists?

This thing was more like a referendum than an election. It was a referendum on which major party list associated with which major leader would lead parliament.

"... a referendum on which major party..."

So like any multi-party democracy in the world?

Many of the voters came out to cast their ballots in the belief that it was the only way to regain enough sovereignty to get American troops back out of their country. The new parliament is unlikely to make such a demand immediately, because its members will be afraid of being killed by the Baath military. One fears a certain amount of resentment among the electorate when this reticence becomes clear.

Iraq now faces many key issues that could tear the country apart, from the issues of Kirkuk and Mosul to that of religious law. James Zogby on Wolf Blitzer wisely warned the US public against another "Mission Accomplished" moment. Things may gradually get better, but this flawed "election" isn't a Mardi Gras for Americans and they'll regret it if that is the way they treat it.


Update: The American Scene adds its own criticism of Cole (from The Corner). -- tdaxp 1 February 2005

19:10 Posted in Iraq, Juan Cole | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: allawi, hakim, sciri