Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Round 174 in the Great Game goes to ...

The New York Times > International > Middle East > The Elections: Iraqi Campaign Raises Question of Iran's SwayIran?
On a list of 228 candidates submitted by a powerful Shiite-led political alliance to Iraq's electoral commission last week, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's name was entered as No. 1. It was the clearest indication yet that in the Jan. 30 election, with Iraq's Shiite majority likely to heavily outnumber Sunni voters, Mr. Hakim may emerge as the country's most powerful political figure.

Mr. Hakim, in his early 50's, is a pre-eminent example of a class of Iraqi Shiite leaders with close ties to Iran's ruling ayatollahs. He spent nearly a quarter of a century in exile in Iran. His political party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, was founded in Tehran, and its military wing fought alongside Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq war. American intelligence officials say he had close ties with Iran's secret services.

About a year ago the tin-hat brigade noted that many of the favorites of the Pentagon/Rumsfeld cohort had interesting connections to Iranian intelligence -- especially Chalabi. If Iran, which has a feared and "respected" intelligence service did manipulate the US into invading Iraq (not that Bush needed much encouragement), then we're now entering yet another stage in a plan they've been preparing for some time. (Note bin Laden's brother still operated freely in Iran last year, but we don't talk about that any more.)

On the other hand, the Economist had a solid review of Iran in this week's issue. It was one of the better recent pieces in a journal that's on the decline. Iran is an economic and political mess; it cannot be deterred from a nuclear weapon, but it's in no shape to "rule" Iraq. Getting too involved in Iraq could push Iran over the edge. Of course that may not deter them, like America they have strong beliefs in divine destiny.

BTW, for how many years have Sunnis ruled the land now called Iraq?

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