Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Iraq: New Shia Alliance; Iran’s Growing Influence

Associated Press is reporting that Iraq’s two main Shia blocks have agreed on an alliance to form the country’s next government. The agreement gives the final decision on all political disputes between the two allied blocks to a group of Shia clerics based in Najaf (the marjaiyah) led by Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani.

If the alliance succeeds in forming the next government, the provision could increase the role of senior Shia clergy in Iraqi politics at the expense of the next prime minister’s powers. The agreement would likely further alienate Iraq’s Sunnis, already feeling disenfranchised. The secular Iraqia list led by former premier Ayad Allawi, which was largely supported by Sunnis, received the most votes in the parliamentary elections, but fell well short of a majority to form the next government.

The deal is between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition and the conservative Shiite Iraqi National Alliance. Iran carries great influence with both groups and has long pushed for such alliance.


Anonymous said...

Over 70% of Iraqi population is Shia and even the Grand Ayatollah Sistani is obviously of Iranian origin from Sistan va Balochistan. The major Shia religious families in the region like the Sadrs, Hakims all have spend time in Iran or have Iranian roots. The Dawa party was formed under Iranian tutelage.

Separating Iran and Iraq was an imperialsit anomaly and has been corrected by Saddam's disappearance and the collapse so-called Pan-Arab "Bathist" (Lebanese Christian Michael Aklaq's confused philosophy). The new Middle-East is reverting back to the normal Shia order in Iraq, Yeemen and even Lebanon itself. Most of the current Iraqi leadership has been closely allied with Iran from the Jange Tahmili days and the creation of SCIRI and Badr brigades. Young Moqtada Sadr's Medhi movement is destined to play the kingmaker role in Iraqi politics for generations to come and Iranian influence and economic clout in the region will only grow. In the Iraqi southern Shia heartland, in the Basra region, almost all consumer goods, construction material,electricty and even municipal services are provided by Iran. The Medhi army is now organizing on a dual Hezbollah type track with a serious military wing and a mass political movement and social services. So no one should be too surprised at the growing Iran-Iraq integration. Just as a footnote, the Iraqi Shia units, who had been press-ganged by Saddam in the war, never showed much enthusiasm for fighting their Persian co-religionists. There were mass surrenders by Iraqi Shia units mostly officered by brutal Sunni Bathist thugs which caused even more resentment amongst the Shia. During the successful Iranian counter-offensives like Fajr, Fat'olmobin, Kerbala, Bait-ol, Moqqadas etc large Iraqi Shia units surendered or defected without putting up much of a fight. This was the primary reason that Saddam had to press gang Arabs cannon fodder from Egypt, Jordan and Yemen to to offset the unpredictibility of Iraqi Shias.Iranian policy in the region has been very strategic, patient and based of a "soft" power projection. It is is a no-brainer that at the end of the day Iran will still be Iraq's neighbor and the primary power in the region.

Anonymous said...

And the US is just going to sit back and watch as the mullah's take over a key Arab state?

Anonymous said...

In reality the US has no choice but to accept Iranian ascendency in Iraq and beyond. The only way Iraqi Shia's will accept the Americans in their battered nation is if they convert to Shiaism and try to understand the power of faith in the region ( a highly unlikey prospect).

US invasion of Iraq unleashed forces that are well beyond its control. They made the same fatal mistake in creating the Mujahidin in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1980's to wage war on the Russians and now the chickens are coming home to roost with endless BLOWBACK. Another fact is that over a million Iranians now cross into Iraq for pilgrimage to Najaf, Kufa and Kerbaba and this has strengthened the religious bonds between Najaf and Qom. Moqtada al Sadr is currently based in Qom where he is devoting his time to acquiring Ayatollah credentials.

TMLutas said...

Since when did the hawza of Najaf cease to be quietist? Has Sistani shifted his concept of the proper role for Shia clerics? Or is this just some sort of intelligence operation designed to create disturbance and distrust inside the Iraqi political class.

Anonymous said...

Iran’s Upper Hand in Iraq Tightens

Feel-good stunts, such as walking out of the UN speech by President Ahmadinejad may look good on television, but they do nothing to deal with the reality, namely, that the United States is going to have to go back to the bargaining table with Iran and try to make a deal over Iraq, despite troops withdrawal rejections from neoconservatives, says Robert Dreyfuss.

The announcement on Tuesday that Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq has joined with the pro-Iranian coalition, the Iraqi National Alliance, to seek to form Iraq’s next government is the direct result of an intervention in Iraqi politics by Iran’s ambassador in Baghdad, Hassan Kazemi-Qomi. “The Iranian ambassador met with the Shiite parties a week ago, and he told them that Iran considers it a matter of its national security that the Shiites put aside their differences to form a government,” Aiham Alsammarae, a former Iraqi minister of electricity, told The Nation. “He told them, ‘Whatever you have to do, do it.’”

The Iran-backed agreement creates an enormous political problem for President Obama and his administration. Not only do the events in Iraq underscore the importance of getting talks with Iran back on track, but they raise the chances that civil war could once again break out in Iraq.

In the March 7 election, Maliki’s party finished second, with 89 seats, and the INA finished third, with 70 seats. The party that came in first, Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiyya bloc, won 91 seats, but it’s looking more and more like Allawi won’t get a chance to put together a coalition.

Maliki has manipulated the system since March 7, first winning a ruling that overturned the notion that the winner gets first crack at forming a government, then joining with the INA and the Ahmed Chalabi-led Justice and Accountability Commission to disqualify some of the winning candidates from Allawi’s bloc, and sending representatives to travel to Tehran, Iran’s capital, to negotiate an accord that would unite Maliki’s bloc with the Shiite religious parties. Until now, however, the various Shiite sectarian parties, including Maliki’s Islamic Dawa party were unable to unite, because Maliki insisted on continuing as prime minister. Now, apparently, after Iran’s direct intervention, and after a long meeting at the home of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, leader of another faction of Islamic Dawa, the parties have agreed on a deal. Reportedly, though it is not confirmed, Jaafari will once again become prime minister

Nader Uskowi said...

One point is entirely overlooked here. It is not in Iran's interests to have an all-Shia government in Iraq. Helping to disenfranchise Sunni Arabs from the government is not only a prudent move for Iraqis and their own security situation, but an unstable Iraq is not in Iran's interests. If indeed the Iranian were behind this alliance, and if the alliance would exclude Sunnis, then this was a wrong move by a regional power.