Tuesday, December 12, 2006
a blindness that touches perfection, but hurts just like anything else -- isolation:
The anti-Sadrist putsch is on the way, according to the New York Times. (And really, Laura, take a bow -- you've been doing great work on all things Shiite for the last two weeks.) Hakim's meeting with Bush makes a whole lot more sense now. SCIRI will align with the Tariq al-Hashemi faction of the Sunnis and the Kurds to form a new government, pushing out Maliki and the Sadrists.

I have absolutely no idea what's in this for Hashemi. If he pulls the trigger on this, he'll have delivered Iraq into the hands of the hardest-core proponents of federalism; and there's no way that Sadr will just play nice now that he's kicked out of parliament. The Sunnis will flock to Saleh Mutlaq in parliament and Harith al-Dhari outside of it. Someone must have dumped a whole lot of money into Hashemi's bank account.

The piece suggests that Sadr could start a third offensive, which suggests he'd be up against the U.S. military. I don't see what's in that for him. Better for him to pursue a Hezbollah strategy: massive rallies/intimidation-demonstrations in SCIRI-controlled territory, building all the way to Baghdad, intended to drive the collaborators out. Shiite enclaves around the country continue to be guarded by the Mahdi Army, so you've got all these cells ready for activation. Sadr's forces are surely larger than the Badr Corps by now, although probably not as well trained or equipped. Sadr will not back down, and he won't be stopped by a force as paltry as SCIRI.

The one thing you can say about SCIRI is that they never fought the U.S. directly. (Although their operatives weren't above attempted assassinations of our diplomats.) Outside of that, not much to say about this band of Iran-backed, civil-warrior Islamists. How long will it take Bush before he starts to recognize that the new boss is not unlike the old boss?
--Spencer Ackerman
Spencer can I take this time to ask you a question? I may sound uneducated asking this, but why do you think it is that the SCIRI wants a federalist Iraq, while Sadr and his forces seem so vehemently set against it? It seems to me that dividing Iraq into autonomous or quasi-autonomous regions would be a proposal nearly all Shi'a and Kurdish parties would jump to support. Where am I going wrong?
Blogger Eric the Political Hack | 11:55 AM

Eric, to tell you the truth, I'm a bit baffled by this myself. One theory I've heard emphasizes the differences in Iraqi/Irianian-ness between Sadr & SCIRI. That being, Sadr, being the more authentically Iraqi party, is against dividing Iraq on general principle, while SCIRI is happy to carve out Shiite Iraq as its own mini-state. (Presumably on this theory Shiite-stan would become some form of adjunct of Iran.) But I have to say I'm just not sure.
Blogger Spencer Ackerman | 12:05 PM

One other theory that I have heard bandied about has to do with Sadr's seat of power - which primarily resides in Baghdad (though he has other pockets throughout the South).

According to partition/federalist plans, the fate of Baghdad is sort of up in the air - with some putting it in the Anbar/Sunni column, others calling it Shiite, and still others suggesting a shared/international model.

So here's the problem for Sadr: the south is where the oil is, and where most of those lucrative Shiite shrines reside.

In other words, he could be outmaneuvered in the southern Shiite region by SCIRI and others due to his relative lack of potency in that region.

Control of oil/shrines is everything, so having a nice fiefdom in Baghdad in a partitioned Iraq might be worth considerably less.

SCIRI would then be in the cat bird seat.

Or so the theory goes.

-E Mart
Blogger Eric Martin | 9:34 AM

Eric, that's an interesting theory-one I had not previously heard. Thanks to both you and Spencer, although I do have to take offense with your commenting here (on a post I clearly got to first) with my same first name. For a second I thought that I had posted a reply, only to discover you were not, in fact, a political hack.
Why couldn't my parents named me something unique or at the very least spelled my name originally? Like Airick. That'd be awesome. Curse you parents! Curse you for giving him this distinctly ordinary name!
Blogger Eric the Political Hack | 11:56 AM

Oh, I'm most definitely a hack, but not only in the realm of politics.

More like a hack-of-all-trades.

From now on,

Eyruc Martin
Blogger Eric Martin | 12:25 PM