Amazingly, despite all the evidence of Iranian support for both the Iraqi Shi’ite extremist militias—the Jaish al-Mahdi of al-Daawa Party cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the Badr and Wolf Brigades of cleric Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim’s SICRI, recently renamed SIIC (the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council), and the Sunni jihadi insurgent al-Qa‘eda of Iraq—there are still America academics that look to the Islamic Republic of Iran as a necessary partner to bring a solution to the violence in Iraq. Professor Ian Shapiro of Yale wrote recently two essays suggesting that the United States needs to turn to Iran to help find a solution to the expanding spiral of violence in that long-suffering land between the two rivers. That’s like turning to Nazi Germany to ask for help in ending the brutally fascistic policies of Vichy France towards its Jewish residents.
If it still is unclear to those in the ivory towers of academia, I’ll spell it out in plain English: In Iraq, Iran is the problem, not the solution! Shapiro apparently still believes that a Shi’ite Iran is incapable of changing sides and supporting the Taliban against the moderate Karzai government. He writes about the Tehran leadership: “Like us, they have no desire to see a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.” If such is indeed the case, why did the United Kingdom’s Defense Minister, Des Browne, say several weeks ago that Iran was supplying the Taliban with weapons that were killing British soldiers?
Professor Shapiro continues his misinformed assumptions as regards Iran’s intentions with a statement on Iraq: “We also share a common interest in the territorial integrity of Iraq.” Justin Delabar, in his article, “Iraqi Shi’ite Factions, Iran and the IRGC”, indicates that Iranian support for Iraqi territorial integrity would continue only as long as Tehran felt that Baghdad remained in a close relationship with Tehran. Should that relationship sour, Delabar correctly suggests that Iran would make use of its extensive network of implanted IRGC agents in the Shi‘ite southern region to pull it into an Iranian orbit.
One may question whether Iran indeed has such influence over the Shi‘ite controlled government of Dr. Nouri al-Maliki. Dr. al-Maliki certainly has played a very careful game of balancing his ties to Iran with those that he has to the United States and the Multi National Forces. However, not all secrets always remain so, and a secret memo that he sent betrays his real loyalties. On March 29, 2007, Egyptian investigative reporter Mahdi Mustafa published in the Egyptian government weekly al-Aram al-Arabi photographs of a secret memo from al-Maliki to the Iranian embassy in Baghdad with copies to SICRI and the al-Shahid al-Sadr organization, requesting that commanders of the Jaish al-Madhi that have ties to the IRGC be pulled off of the frontlines so as to protect them from arrest or death during the forthcoming American surge. al-Maliki mentions both Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi National Security Advisor Dr. Muwafaq al-Rubai‘i as participants in a conversation and consultation prior to his sending the memo.
The fact that al-Maliki’s secret memo was sent to the Iranian embassy as well as to al-Sadr’s organization and to SICRI should clarify that the three work together and that al-Maliki cooperates with them against American and British interests. With a little bit of common sense this revelation should not come as a total surprise as al-Maliki and Moqtada al-Sadr are both members of the same political organization, the al-Daawa Party (“The Call”), a radical Shi‘ite fundamentalist party ever since its inception some 49 years ago.
If the maze of Iraqi Shi‘ite and Sunni political parties has one confused, maybe an allegory will help clarify the situation. During World War II, the Allies invaded Italy to remove the fascist tyrant Benito Mussolini. Four years ago the Allies invaded Iraq to remove the tyrant Saddam Hussein. Now our allegory: the Allies decided that Italy needed to hold elections to establish a democracy in that country, but because of internal squabbles and the support that had been given to Mussolini, most of the voters in the north and central sections of Italy did not participate in the election. As a result, two political parties from the southern part of the country—actually from Sicily—won the election with the largest block in the new government’s parliament. When the dust finally settled, the Allies discovered that those two parties that had been democratically elected—well, if you don’t count all the dead Italians that voted or the arm twisting that took place before the elections—were the Mafia and the Costa Nostra. And that is why so many ordinary Italians were not happy with the government that the Allies brought them. Except that this tragic story took place in Iraq and not in Italy and its disastrous results are currently being played out in the land between the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates.
Lest we compound the problems in Iraq, both for the Iraqi people and for ourselves, by pulling our forces out of Iraq too quickly, thereby giving Iran and her radical fundamentalist Shi‘ite-block allies a chance to dominate Iraqi society and to impose a fundamentalist Islamist law code on that nation, we need to realize that not all Shi‘ite Iraqis are fundamentalists, nor are all Sunni Iraqis Islamic fundamentalists. Indeed, at least half of the Iraqi electorate today is anti-fundamentalist and clearly opposed to the imposition of Islamic Sharia law and the interference of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Iraq’s internal affairs.
What is not well known is that moderate Iraqi Sunnis and Shi‘ites have joined with moderate Kurds and Christians to form a 5.2 million member coalition of anti-fundamentalists. This anti-fundamentalist coalition is known as the “Solidarity Congress” and is led by a Board of Directors which includes Dr. Abdullah Rasheed Al-Jabouri(Chair), Shiekh Kamel Omran Attiyya (First Deputy Chair), Karima Dawoud Al-Jawari (Second Deputy Chair). The following groups are part of this anti-fundamentalist coalition: the Association of Friendship and Solidarity with the People of Iran, the National Association of Struggle Against Fundamentalism and Terrorism, the Association of Independent Jurists, the National Dialogue Front of Iraq-Diyala, the National Front of the Tribes of Iraq, the National Unity Front for a Free Iraq, the Christian Democratic Movement, the Islamic Party of Iraq, the Peace Party, Iraq’s Council for National Dialogue, the Congress of Natives of Iraq, and the Nationalist Elite of Independent Iraq.
The brave members of the Solidarity Congress have risked their lives and continue to risk their lives to stand up and oppose Islamic fundamentalism, both Sunni and Shi‘ite, and Arab and Kurd. Fallen comrades in the struggle against Islamic fundamentalism include Ms. Amereh Abdul-Karim Al-Aqabe, president of the Iraqi Women’s Syndicate (ISW), recently abducted and brutally murdered because she was a fierce opponent to the Iranian regime’s blatant interference in Iraqi political, social, and economic affairs, Abdul-Rahim Nasrallah, leader of the secular National Justice and Progress Party and chairman of the board of directors of the party’s Shaabiya satellite television station, Ayatollah Mohammad Moussawi Qasemi, a prominent Shi‘ite cleric and secretary general of the Islamic Unity Party in Iraq, Mohammad Qassem Ahmed al-Bayati, governor of Soleiman-bak near the northern city of Kirkuk, Muhammad Shihab al-Dulaymi, spokesman for the Maram alliance—a coalition of 42 Sunni and secular political groups including the Iraqi Accord Front, the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, and the secular Iraqi National List headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi—dedicated to contesting rigged elections, and Major General Amer al-Hashemi, brother of Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, whose sister Meysoun and brother Mahmoud were assassinated earlier in the year. All of these anti-fundamentalist martyrs had spoken out in opposition to Iranian domination of Iraq and had supported the Iranian anti-fundamentalist opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq as a force for moderation, tolerance and secular democracy both in Iran and Iraq.
On Monday, May 28, 2007, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Kazemi Qomi, met at the Baghdad home of Prime Minister Dr. Nouri al-Maliki to discuss Iraqi security. Given the above-mentioned information, it should now be evident that this meeting was the equivalent of asking the fox to help arrange security for the hen-house, or if you prefer, providing an invitation to a convicted pyromaniac to supervise the local fire-brigade. Nothing good could come out of this meeting, despite the pious pronouncements that we are now hearing from a variety of sources. For those that read Farsi or have access to accurate translations, an editorial in Keyhan Daily—the newsprint mouthpiece of the Islamic Republic of Iran—dated May 5, 2007, and entitled “Threat under the cover of opportunity…” said it all in black on white: Iran has no intention of helping the U.S. in Iraq; indeed, it looks forward to being able to teach America a serious object lesson. The final two paragraphs read as follows:
“…Bush wants to rescue himself from the ‘Middle East Swamp’ and an unambiguous loss in the elections. Therefore he is trying to get closer to Iran to use it to solve his problems.
…The Americans have not changed. Only it is that they have been strangled and they want to find a way to breathe. When they catch a breath, they will continue in their old manner. Obviously Iran will not allow its archenemy to simply get out of the swamp he is in now. The world now has a great chance to teach a lesson to this international bully. Apparently it is up to Iran to go forward with the project. Because Iran is the only country in the world that historically has earned the right to defeat the United States, the opportunity is here.”
Given the Iranian regime’s tendency to telegraph its intentions, the aforementioned Keyhan Daily editorial should be clear enough to be understood in Washington and at Yale. But since neither have a great track record at understanding the Persian enigma that the IRI seems to be to them, I will give one more hint to help clarify the picture. Iraqi radical Shi‘ite cleric Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of SICRI/SIIC, was just diagnosed as suffering from lung cancer. Despite being wealthy enough to afford treatment in the finest American or European clinics, al-Hakim chose to go to Iran for treatment. Iran is not known currently for the high quality of its medicine. But its radical Islamic fundamentalism is second to none… When Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei calls, al-Sadr, al-Maliki, and al-Hakim all come running.
When will Washington (and Yale) finally figure out who are our friends and who are our enemies in Iraq? Hint: friends help provide solutions; enemies cause problems. The Solidarity Congress and their supporters are our natural allies in the war against Islamic fundamentalism; the Islamic Republic of Iran, al-Daawa, the Jaish al-Mahdi, SICRI/SIIC, the Badr Brigade, Moqtada al-Sadr, Nouri al-Maliki, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, and al-Qa‘eda in Iraq aren’t—they’re the problem.
Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching our elected officials and the public of the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism and the need to establish genuine democratic institutions in the Middle-East.