Not many neoconservatives are descended from the Prophet Mohammed. But you wouldn’t know it from the way many neocons—and their puppet in the White House—are backing the Iraqi Shiites.
The black turbans, of course, are the Shiites (mostly clergy) who make the spurious claim that they are descended in a direct bloodline from the prophet himself. Now, unless they’ve hired the genealogical whizzes from the Mormons, it’s not likely that they can prove any such thing. But among the credulous faithful, it’s a big deal. One of those who makes that claim is Abdul Aziz Hakim, the leader of the Iranian-connected “Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.” You wouldn’t think that anyone whose party calls for “Islamic revolution” would be invited to the White House, but Hakim has cozied up with President Bush himself in the Oval Office. Hakim also loves to snuggle with Iranian ayatollahs, and his paramilitary praetorian guard, the Badr Brigades, were armed and trained since the 1980s by Iran’s Pasdaran, the Revolutionary Guard.
Lots to say on this today.
The New York Times has a he-said, she-said page one article on Hakim today, raising some concerns about Hakim and then knocking them down. It’s a horrible article, full of contradictions and with little to none investigative content. (Where, oh where, have the investigative reporters gone?) One glaring contradiction, unremarked on, is that it quotes Ghazi Yawar, the president of Iraq, warning that more than a million people from Iran have crossed the border to vote in the election and than Iranian money and agents are being mobilized to tilt the vote. It then reports: “But American and Iraqi officials say that many of the migrants crossing the largely unmonitored border are Iraqi Shiite families that fled Saddam Hussein’s repression.” I would point out that Yawar, the president, is not so sanguine, and he counts as an Iraqi official.
In the Washington Times today, Arnaud de Borchgrave, conservative but no neocon, says that Jordanian intelligence reports that three million Iranians have entered Iraq since 2003.
The New York Times piece goes on to tell readers to relax—that Shiites in Iraq don’t like Iran, that they don’t believe clerics should run the government, and that there are bitter rivalries among them. (Indeed, Hakim’s brother was blown up last year in Iraq.) All true. Yet there is no question that a great Shiite fundamentalist power is arising in Iran, Iraq and surrounding areas, and it’s all happening with American support.
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Reuel Marc Gerecht of the American Enterprise Institute takes all this on in a piece called: “Will Iran Win the Iraq War?” The heart of Gerecht’s piece is this: That a Shiite power in Iraq will undermine the clergy’s rule in Iran, and is part of a needed Bush administration offensive against the hard-liners in Teheran. Quote: “Such a government supported by Iraq’s Shiite establishment is a dagger aimed at Teheran’s clerical dictatorship.”
This theory, now official doctrine for the neocons, is at the heart of their Iran strategy. It counts as second Big Mistake of the Iraq war. Big Mistake No. 1 was the neocon belief that the Iraqis would welcome U.S. troops with open arms—instead, they welcomed us with arms. Big Mistake No. 2, now taking shape, is that Iraq’s Shiites are Good Guys who will lead a pro-American Iraq against Iran’s “clerical dictatorship.” I believe that they really believe this. But the reality is that in a Shiite-dominated Iraq, the hard-liners and the people with guns (i.e., the Badr Brigades) will take over, and they will make common cause with some of the clergy in Iran. It will be a dagger all right, but one aimed at Saudi Arabia’s Sunni state. Of course, that too is part of the long-term Israeli-neocon strategy, to overthrow the Saudi king. It’s a regional regime-change strategy (one that includes Syria of course) and it has been central to their whole Middle East policy for a decade. It is also a fantasy, with a thousand possibilities for things to go terribly wrong. Big Mistake No. 1 led to the Iraqi insurgency. Big Mistake No. 2 could lead to a Middle East inflamed by Islamic revolution in spades.