Wednesday, December 21, 2005
From Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy To The Islamic Republic Of Iraq
Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy!
Who can forget those famous words of a just
liberated Iraqi Man which echoed around the
Sadly, Democracy, Whisky, and Sexy in Iraq has been replaced by:
~ Shi'ite Fundamentalists Will Shoot You If You Sell Whisky
~ And Sexy Ran off to Syria, where there aren't Fundamentalist Death Squads, with a nasty habit of leaving women's bodies crumpled on the streets of Southern Iraq.
So, how did Iraq turn into Route 666: The Highway To Islamist Horrors?
The Best Political Analyst in the Iraqi and Kurdish Blogosphere is Nibras Kazini of the Talisman Gate blog. Kazini is a visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institute in Washington, writes a Weekly Column on the Middle East for the New York Sun, and is working on a History of the Middle East.
Nibras brings us an Insider's View of Iraqi Politics after having worked for Armand Chalabi for seven years and being close friends with another prominent Iraqi politican Mithal Al-Alusi.
Kazimi is especially hard on the Shia and their Electoral Choices in this election:
For 95% of the population, each voted according to his or her sect or race. Iraq's Shia did not vote as a confident majority: they followed the voting pattern of a ghettoized minority still scarred from many years of dictatorship. Rather than think for themselves and exercise their individual right to choose, they have abdicated this responsibility in favor of their behemoth communal shepherd: Grand Ayatollah Sistani. This behavior is dangerous, and it marks the prelude to all-out civil war.
As long as the U.S. forces remain, I don't see the possibility of a Civil War between the Sunni-Shia blocs, though I wonder how the American Public
would stomach the formation of an Islamic Republic, especially if they ever learnt the terrorist background of some of these groups.
Nibras goes on to cite Five Major Factors in the Iranian-inspired Islamist remaking of Iraq to the "The Islamic Republic of Iraq."
1-Sistani’s Edict: This was the doing of Muhammad Ridha Sistani, the Grand Ayatollah’s son, and it was first reported here at Talisman Gate on November 27. Through mosque sermons and catchy jingles, the Shia faithful got the message that voting against ‘Haydar’s Candle’ would anger Imam Ali. [‘Haydar’s Candle’: Haydar is an alternate name for Imam Ali, and the ballot symbol of the UIA list no. 555 was a candle, the same as the January election.]
I never did trust Lady Bird's favorite "Ayatollah Scarecrow" Sistani, always with that nudge, nudge, wink wink, speaking out at just the right time to sway favor - I'm sure his son acted completely independently of his father's wishes.
2-Undeclared Civil War: Shia-Sunni tensions are at historical highs, and Shia voters still feel vulnerable and insecure as to their political future, so they voted UIA to spite the Sunnis who have been waging a low-level campaign of extermination against Shias in mixed areas. Seemingly, the Sunni leadership such as the likes of Saleh Al-Mutlag, who is particularly hated among the Shia, keep pointing the finger at SCIRI’s Badr Brigade for any retaliatory actions targeting the Sunni population, and the communal antipathy is so acute that the Shias would band together with Abdel-Aziz Al-Hakim just to piss off the Sunnis. Iraqi Shias were unconcerned with deteriorating basic services under Jaafari as they headed to the polls; they could live with little electricity and water, but they can’t go on looking over their shoulders for a suicide bomber whenever they do grocery shopping.
Since there's a Political Mandate on the part of
the Current Administration to promote some sort of Democracy in Iraq, as long as Bush is in charge, Civil War isn't happening.
3-Aljazeera’s Godsend: The fluke occurrence of an anti-liberation Iraqi commentator called Fadhil Al-Rubaiee appearing on one of Aljazeera’s most controversial shows and saying nasty things about Sistani a day before the polls opened did plenty to bolster the impression that Shias are under attack and need to close ranks behind their Grand Ayatollah and his blessed list, the UIA. Al-Rubaiee is a regular commentator on Aljazeera, and even has a personal website, while his political affiliation belongs to a pro-insurgency group called the Iraqi Patriotic Alliance. The head of the IPA, Abdel-Jabbar Al-Kubaisi, was arrested by American forces in Iraq last year.
Al-Rubaiee’s outburst allowed Muhammad Ridha Sistani and Iranian intelligence to orchestrate massive demonstrations across Baghdad and southern Iraq that came out denouncing Aljazeera, supporting the UIA and burning and tearing down all rival election posters and related paraphernalia. This was the clearest and most timely opportunity afforded to the Sistani camp to strongly suggest to their flock the virtues of voting for the UIA.
Can the Iranians be any Happier? They let the Americans do their dirty work to set up a Pro-Islamist, what some are calling a Satellite State
of Iran, all at the American taxpayer's expense.
And the interaction of Sistani's Son and Iranian Intelligence, perfect, just perfect.
4-The Iranians Show Their Hand: And just in case Sistani and the threat of ethnic cleansing don’t do the trick, Iranian intelligence came out swinging to systematize the electoral victory of their acolytes in the UIA by stuffing ballots, intimidating rivals and conducting other massive violations of electoral law. The Iranians showed how weak the institutions of the Iraqi state really are; the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq was feckless in the face of flagrant abuses such as showcasing Sistani’s picture of ‘555’ posters and the use of the police and state entities in putting-up/tearing-down candidates’ propaganda. Farid Ayar, the commission’s chairman, keeps telling foreign journalists that he can’t wait until this is all over “so that I can go back to my garden in London.” Ayar is clearly not going to hassle the gun-totting fundamentalist militias, especially if the Americans and the Brits seems unconcerned with what is happening right under their very noses.
Not disarming the Militias and letting their power hold sway in the Iranistahn Section of Iraq was a major mistake on the part of the current administration. It was a difficult process, with
the Kurds unwilling -- and likely rightly so --
to dismantle their legendary Peshmerga, therefore providing the various Shia sects an out to keep their own Militias intact. Not that the Shia Groups needed much of an out. Meanwhile, the British Troops were ineffectual in their guardianship of Basra and Southern Iraq. Who can forget they had to rescue their own men from jail, Sadr's men stomping the heads of the picnic-goers, and the Death of Steven Vincent?
5-Rumors: The rumor that spread around Baghdad on the eve of the election about the city's water supply being poisoned was quickly spun as a Sunni attempt to embarrass the 'Shia' government. Shias were reminded once again that they are under attack and do not have the privilege of political choices in these dire circumstances: they must coalesce around their sectarian identity as
embodied by the UIA list.
And what does Kazini see as the outcome of the political machinations between the Shia and Sunni:
Which leaves us, incidentally, with all the people Iran has been cultivating for decades as the soon-to-be-crowned heads of the Shia community. They will have to do business with the soon-to-be-crowned heads of the Sunni community, who are loathed by ordinary Shias. Adnan Al-Dulaimi, the head of the largest Sunni block 'The Consenses,' was elected by a strictly sectarian bias; Sunnis did not listen to him or his allies in the Islamic Party when they called for voting 'yes' on the constitution back in October. So, Al-Dulaimi is hobbled by the fact that his constituency controls him rather than the other way around, and thus he must stand as a hardliner against policies such as de-Ba'athification, which would further aggravate the Shia.
You can tell that Nibras is deeply disappointed by this election. On a personal level, his friends and those leaders he respected, seem to have come to the end of their road:
Having had the opportunity of a front-row seat during the INC years, I find it heartbreaking that Chalabi—without whom these elections would have never happened—be so crushed. Al-Alusi, whose bravery and fortitude for the cause of a secular and liberal Iraq, even after the murder of his two sons last February, was an inspiration.
Even people like Abdel-Karim Al-Mohammadawi, the so-called 'Prince of the Marshes,' who bravely fought Saddam for 15 years under terrible odds, will walk away with nothing. To watch Iraq lose some of its best political talent at this critical time makes me very afraid.
"Very afraid," the words of Iraqi Political Insider regarding this election.