Sunday, October 08, 2006

The problem with the Mahdi Army is that its fortunes have changed dramatically particularly since the start of the civil strife (which we shall refrain from calling civil war). You should remember that when the 1st Mahdi Army uprising during the Alawi provisional government time, most Shiites shunned the Sadrists and despised them and the uprising was put down relatively easily. However, since the destruction of the Samara shrine, the Sadrists have emerged as the main active participants in the internecine civil struggle, and are seen by many Shiaas as their main defendants against the extremist Sunni attacks. Many Shiaas, particularly in the Baghdad area will tell you that if it hadn’t been for the Mehdi army not a single Shiite would have been able to stay in Baghdad. It must not be understood that I am trying to defend this Militia, but what I am trying to do is to state some facts that exist on the ground these days. I was planning to write to warn of this dangerous situation in which I have one of these feelings that the American are about to commit one of their big blunders.

Of course the Militia problem must be solved; of course the generally reiterated position regarding this issue whether by American or government sources is theoretically correct; however the problem is how to go about it. I don’t have much time today, however, since fighting has already started in Diwaniya and is likely to spread elsewhere, I feel it is urgent to sound the alarm. I am not condoning sectarian tit for tat reprisals; in fact only yesterday we have lost three members of our extended family who happened to be Sunnis at the hand of some sectarian gang. Nevertheless, I will state this emphatically, the U.S. army should not be enticed into any kind of military confrontation with the Mehdi army; as this can be quite disastrous and opens up a hellish new front and will not lead to any results other than driving this militia underground to splinter into proper clandestine terrorist organizations.

Another point that requires much explanation will be said today hurriedly. It is a strategic mistake to lump all events in the Middle East region into one basket. More specifically and frankly; the Israel-Lebanon conflict, the Iranian Issue, and the Shiaas in Iraq are three quite separate subjects. It is true that the main protagonists in all three can be labeled as Shiaas, but the common denominator ends there. The first is a border dispute about a farm and a question of prisoner exchange and not much more despite all the flamboyant rhetoric and high emotions. The second is basically the same old ancient Persian illusions of grandeur and nationalistic ambitions cloaked in religious garb. The third, i.e., the Shiaas in Iraq is a much more complex situation and is pivotal for the success of the mission in Iraq, which in itself is a key to influencing the other issues.

Allow me to pontificate a little, since this is the crazy cybernetic world of blogging; and hence let me imagine myself as some great theoretician and therefore I shall enunciate my views as some Laws:

Alaa’s first Law: The relations between the Shiaa’s of Iraq and Iran are reciprocally proportional to those between them and the United States. In other words; the worst the latter gets the closer becomes the first and vise versa. Therefore this question must be dealt with, with the utmost caution to avoid quite undesirable results.

Alaa’s second Law: The best way to confront the theocratic regime in Iran and all other dictatorships in the region is for the Iraqi experiment to succeed; that is something that is clearly understood by all around us, which explains their desperate efforts to abort this project. Therefore it is wise to concentrate on this matter and avoid opening new fronts at the moment.

Alaa’s Third Law: The United States of America has become the Sole Super Power in the world of today; and has been cast into this role almost despite itself; its success has been so unbelievably complete, especially after the dramatic collapse of the Soviet block, that it finds itself charged with such global responsibility that is almost unbearable and for which it may not be entirely prepared. Just look around you: which other nation has such armies and fleets and economic involvement spreading over the entire globe? Consequently America has become the obsession of friend and foe alike, world wide. Just listen to any standard discourse of our Arab commentators, for instance. You will hear the word America or something to do with America, in every other sentence; if not in each one. America is deified, demonized, believed to be the source of everything that is happening. My son once told me that one of his teachers (of wahabi sympathies) emphatically told his pupils in class, that it was America that caused the Tsunami that struck the shores of Asia. Ordinary American folk may not quite realize or understand this; it is rather like some of these fairy tales when some quite ordinary person finds himself crowned as King or something of the sort.

The question is this: Is the American political and social system really fit and prepared for such huge responsibility? That I shall leave to friends to ponder about.

What I really wanted to say in this respect is that American policy cannot afford to be subservient to any one particular concern, interest or pressure group. It has to take all aspects and all sides of issues into consideration.

Of course the issues that I raised today need to be discussed at much greater length and clarity. What I want to emphasize for today is an urgent advice to the Americans to deal with Sadrists in quite a different way from last time, i.e. politically and through their still great influence, while there is time. I am throwing these views into wide open debate and would be very interested to read the opinion of my friends.


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