Muqtada Pledges Defense of Iran from US attack
Iranian FM calls for US Troop Withdrawal from Iraq
AP reports that guerrilla violence left dozens dead or wounded in Iraq over the weekend. The young men who attempted to volunteer for the Iraqi police force, kidnapped last week, turned up as two dozen corpses on Sunday.
Muqtada al-Sadr, visiting Iran, has pledged the support of his militia, the Mahdi Army, to Iran in case that country were attacked by the United States. The forces of the young Shiite nationalist fought US forces in April-May and again in August of 2004.
Wire services note the remarks of the Iranian foreign minister:
' "The American forces are there to dominate Iraqi interests," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, who met the firebrand cleric, was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA. "The crisis existing in Iraq can be resolved with the departure of the occupying forces," the minister said. IRNA quoted Sadr as saying: "We are happy that ties between the Iranian and the Iraqi nations are developing every day and we always support the strengthening of Iraq's relations with all neighbours, especially the Islamic republic of Iran." '
Of course the Mahdi Army would attack the US if Washington falls upon Iran. But it should be noted that of all the major Shiite foces, the Sadrists are the least close to Iran. Al-Sadr's remarks must be seen as an attempt to gain support inside Iraq. He had earlier tended to cede the position of "Iran's best friend" to his coalition partner and sometimes rival, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Indeed, the Sadr movement activists have often complained about Iranian dominance of Shiism.
SCIRI's Badr Corps militia, it was alleged by Newsweek, is still on the Iranian payroll.
Any attack by the US or Israel on Iran's nuclear energy facilities would certainly bring massive crowds into the streets in protest in neihboring Iraq. The resulting violence and the attacks on US troops are not important demographically, but they could cost the Republican Party its majority in Congress, if the American public becomes alarmed that the US is losing (even more) control.
This Iraqi/Congressional factor is among the reasons I believe that the current hard line taken by the US against Tehran is mere saber rattling.
The LA Times reports on US hopes of convincing the Shiite religious parties to give up control of the ministry of the interior, on the grounds that they are too tied to sectarian militias. I am quoted, saying basically, 'and they would do that why, exactly?" They did win the election.
My interview with journalist Sarah Phelan is now online. I talki about the difficulties the US has had in Iraq.
Some of what I've been up to while I've been traveling is apparent in this article from UCLA on Jihadi recruitment and Zawahiri.