The New York Times includes an article today entitled “U.S. Ambassador Says Iran is Inciting Attacks.” I bring it up primarily because it relates directly to my recent post–“Keyser Söze in Sadr City“–and the notion that recent US raids in Sadr city are aimed at a “splinter” group of Moqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
The Times reports:
The Shiite guerrillas behind the recent attacks are members of splinter groups of the Mahdi Army, the powerful militia created by the radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, Mr. Khalilzad said.
The splinter groups have ties to Iran, which is governed by Shiite Persians, and to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite Arab militia in Lebanon that has been battling Israel for a month, the ambassador added.
There is evidence that Iran is pushing for more attacks, he said, without offering any specifics. But he acknowledged that there was no proof that Iran was directing any particular operations by militias here…
Despite the recent attacks by the splinter groups, Mr. Khalilzad insisted that the most powerful Shiite leaders in Iraq had not yet pushed for more violence against the Americans, even though Iran would like them to. That includes Mr. Sadr, he said.
“Generally the Shia leadership here have behaved more as Iraqi patriots and have not reacted in the way that perhaps the Iranians and Hezbollah might want them to,” Mr. Khalilzad said.
All of which goes to my prior speculation about “Sadr’s own complicity in a purge of more radical, anti-US Sadrist factional players.”
It should also be noted that Khalilzad has frequently tried to advance “Right Arabist” goals during his tenure as US Ambassador in Iraq. I would note that his desire to pin US troubles in Sadr City directly to Iran–even as he acknowledged that there was “no proof” of this–certainly does little to challenge my argument–in a previos post–that in the current context, many Right Arabists are as “hawkish” on Iran as Right Zionists.
As the Times article suggests,
Mr. Khalilzad’s comments also reinforce the observations of some analysts that the rise of the majority Shiites in Iraq, long oppressed by Sunni Arab rulers, is fueling the creation of a “Shiite crescent” across the Middle East, with groups in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon working together against common enemies, whether they be the United States, Israel or Sunni Arab nations.
Just to be clear: that is the whole ball of wax–Act Two of the Bush Revolution–in a nutshell. The “United States, Israel [and] Sunni Arab nations” fighting against “common enemies” of a “Shiite crescent.”