Thursday, August 09, 2007

You're So Pretty When You're Unfaithful to Me

More evidence regarding our close ally in Iraq, SIIC (formerly SCIRI), and what a paragon of "moderation" they are:

Inhabitants of Diyala province have told Inter Press Service (IPS) that a powerful Shi'a militia has infiltrated the security forces in the troubled governate, terrorizing Sunni residents.

The powerful Badr militia, the paramilitary wing of the SIIC, or Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council, "controls" the police forces the province, according to residents.

Reporting for IPS, Ahmed Ali writes that the Badr organization has been the dominant political player in Ba'quba, the principal city in the province, since the 2003 overthrow of the old regime, according to residents. Badr loyalists fill important official positions at the municipal and provincial levels. Meanwhile, Sunni Iraqis complain of underrepresentation.

Most disturbingly, residents told IPS that the political power of the Badr and SIIC have allowed Badr militamen to infiltrate the local security forces and carry out killing and kidnapping operations, usually targeting Diyala’s Sunnis. IPS heard from residents that Badr-affiliated policemen often raid Sunni homes during the night, taking away men whose bodies are later recovered in the streets.

Recall, SIIC is described as "moderate" by the Bush administration, SIIC's leaders get to visit the White House and shake hands with the President, and its militias get to don the official uniforms of the Iraqi government. On the other hand, Moqtada al-Sadr is labeled a "radical firebrand," his cadres are targeted by airstrikes, random arrests and other military operations, and his militia members are not as readily accepted into Iraqi security forces.

The real difference, and reason for the disparate treatment from the Bush administration, is that SIIC is comfortable working with (exploiting, actually) the occupation, whereas Sadr maintains a staunch anti-occupation stance. The quality of their actual actions (ethnic cleansing and the like) is remarkably similar when judged on the moderate-to-extremist spectrum.

Ironically, while Sadr is often painted as an Iranian pawn by the Bush administration and its supporters, it is SIIC that has the closest ties to Iran of any of Iraq's political factions (with Prime Minister Maliki's Dawa Party a close second). SIIC's Badr Corp militia - the one featured in the above article - was formed, trained and armed by Iran in Iran itself during the preceding decades. That tends to foster a close relationship.

The mischaracterization of Iranian ties in this guilt-by-association fashion stems, in part, from the Bush administration's decision to target and demonize Sadr. But sometimes, by all outward appearances, the Bush team believes their own propaganda. Along these lines, there seems to be a pervasive blanket of myopia in the Bush administration when it comes to the obvious ties between Dawa, SIIC and Iran. One of the Bush team's sharpest tacks (only?), Zal Khalilzad, had this to say in January:

"We know what the relationship between SCIRI, Badr and the Iranian institutions were in those days. Now it's a different situation," Khalilzad said. The Iraqi government is no longer "an opposition movement in need of support from the security agencies of a neighboring state, so there is a need for adaptation in terms of what's appropriate in terms of a relationship."

The notion that SIIC no longer needs foreign patrons is laughable considering the swirling internecine conflicts and unsettled political/military landscape in Iraq. That SIIC would cut off its most dedicated (and reliable) patron against such a chaotic backdrop is naive beyond repair.

Rarely willing to be outdone when it comes to galling displays of naivete, President Bush got into the act today (via C), reacting to the most recent (of several) trips to Iran made by Maliki - a meeting that was reportedly quite warm and friendly, marked by mutual compliments and assurances:

Asked today what message the meeting and photographs sent by showing an apparently “warm” visit between the Iraqi and Iranian officials, Mr. Bush said that he would first like to get a “readout” from the American embassy in Baghdad, which would be in touch with Mr. Maliki.

Now, if the signal is that Iran is constructive, I will have to have a heart to heart with my friend, the prime minister,” Mr. Bush said of Mr. Maliki. “Because I don’t believe they are constructive. I don’t think he, in his heart of hearts, thinks they’re constructive either.”

...Asked if he was confident Mr. Maliki shares his view, Mr. Bush said yes.

He knows that weaponry being smuggled in to Iraq from Iran and placed into the hands of extremists — over which the government has no control, all aimed at killing innocent life — is a destabilizing factor,” Mr. Bush said.

“So the first thing I looked for was commitment against the extremists,” Mr. Bush said. “Second thing is: Does he understand with some extremist groups there’s connections with Iran? And he does. And I’m confident.” [emphasis added]

It really is astounding that our President is either: (a) this clueless; or (b) feels the need to pretend to public.

Let me get this straight: Bush doesn't think that Maliki (the head of the Dawa Party) finds Iran to be a constructive ally? Not in his heart of hearts (which is reminiscent of his infamous, and mistaken, gaze into Putin's soul). And Bush is confident that the head of the Dawa Party shares the same view on Iran as he does? Also, regarding the smuggling of weaponry: I'm sure Maliki is aware of the phenomenon. How else is he supposed to arrange for the pickup?

Lastly, someone needs to ask Bush if he understands that with some "moderate" groups there's connections with Iran. Moderate groups like, say, Dawa and SIIC!!!

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