I thought we were friends . . .
Since the beginning of the Iraq war, the true patriots of this country have been pointing out the myriad failures and miscalculations this administration has made in its prosecution of the war. Some of the most important voices in our nation faced summary stonewalling from the mass media, which often held the loudest trumpet at the send-off party. Only when the ineptitude of the neocon agenda manifested itself in the form of thousands of dead Iraqis did mainstream politicians wake up and (most likely for polictical reasons) begin the chorus of dissaproval. People are starting to listen. People are starting to wonder.
Seymour Hersh (my hero) has spent at least the last two years decoding the administration's steady stream of accusations aimed at Iran, which at has variously been implicated in material support of "extremist groups" in Iraq, financial and arms support for the Taliban, and of course being an all around naughty nation. So it brings me to wonder if the chorus that now denounces the epic catastrophe in Iraq - particularly Democratic presidential candidates - will pick up on the events of this past week.
Since 9/11, the United States has invaded two nations. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, "democracy" has not seemingly abated the scourge of death being suffered by people whose fate was decided in Washington and London. Iraq is in the midst of a civil war, and an insistent and resurgent Taliban is again threaten the southern provinces of Afghanistan. Of course, we have Iran and the Shi'a mullahs to thank for this mayhem. Turns out, the democratically elected leaders of of both Iraq and Afghanistan don't seem to agree with that assessment, and have both said so while in press conferences with Bushie. Nouri al-Maliki and Hamid karzai have both stated that Iran is having a "positive and constructive" effect on their respective nations. So what gives? Is Iran really as mischevious as Bush would have us believe?
This entry is already too long, so let me sum up quickly:
1. Concerning Afghanistan: The Taliban's brand of extreme Salafi Islam is not exactly fun for the Shi'a. Quite simply put, anyone with the most basic understanding of the Shi'a/Sunni schism understands that the most orthodox Sunnis view Shi'a, not simply as a deviation, but outright heresy. Furthermore, Iran has nothing to gain from a Fundamentalist Militant Salafi governemt on its border. The mullahs in both Tehran and Qom have been weary of the Taliban since it first came on the scene, particularly because of ancient enmities between Pakhtun tribal identities and Persian ethnic identity. The Afghans and Persians have never been natural allies, and the confesional schism only widens this gulf.
2. On Iraq: this one is easy, and is again related to the Shi'a/Sunni split. Maliki, and his predecessor, Jafari are senior members of the Da'wa party, and both men spent years in Iran as exiles while the Shi'a opposition parties suffered under the iron fist of Saddam. Iran's overwhelmingly Shi'a population are co-religionsits with the newly empowered Shi'a of Iraq. So, is there any real surprise that the meeting between Maliki and Ahmadinijad would be "warm" as Al-Jazeera reported? Iranians have been in Iraq since before the war, mostly in the southern provinces. There is little doubt in my mind that some of this activity was centered around military and paramilitary training. It is also well known that this Iranian activities in Iraq have included financial investment, infrastructural development, and the creation of social services. Where is the Iraqi leadership goiong to look for friends in the region? Saudi Arabia, whose two primary exports are oil and Wahhabi Islam? Turkey, who wants to invade its Iraq's northern frontier to crush the PKK? Or the guys who celebrate the same holidays as you and who sheltered you from a brutal and blood thirsty tyrant? I think the point is clear.
Until next time, intrepid friends . . .