Will Bush Give More Power to Sadr's Evil Twin?
If you think that forcing Sadr out of the Iraqi government will be a win-win situation, think again. The likely result will be to give this scary dude even more power.
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David T. Beito - 12/14/2006
Sadr seems more of a emotive populist type, somewhat akin to an American Al Sharpton while al-Hakim strikes me as very careful and calculating.
Americans seem to be comparative babes in the woods with very little sense of the history and motivations of the players. On the other hand, the Iraqi power brokers have learned well the fine art of recognizing and manipulating their more innocent American counterparts.
Jason Kuznicki - 12/14/2006
Since the moment we set foot in Iraq and even before, the choices of Iraqi leadership have been limited almost entirely to scary dudes.
Sudha Shenoy - 12/14/2006
1. ?? SCIRI has been around a very long time, as has Moqtada Al-Sadr. Many of the leaders of SCIRI spent a long exile in Iran, before returning to Iraq.
2. Not all Shia leaders favour Iran: certainly Ayatollah Ali-Sistani doesn't. He is opposed to the political role that religious leaders there have taken.
3. SCIRI's political base is the Shia-majority south. Al-Sadr's political base is chiefly the Shia areas of Baghdad, but _also_ amongst many poorer Shias in towns throughout Iraq, & _especially_ in the South.
4. With the rise of a second Shia power in the Middle East, the rulers of the Sunni states surrounding it are getting very uneasy indeed. See Juan Cole's superb analysis. What we're looking at is a _very_ long-term political change in the relative balance of power between Sunni & Shia rulers in this particular part of the Muslim world. The roots go well back into the Saddam era & even earlier. The US presence is analogous to the surface scum carried along on rising & rushing flood-waters.