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April 08, 2008

I hate the six minute rule
Posted by Ilan Goldenberg

Senator Reied was pursuing a great line of questioning and unfortunately was cut off.  Basically asking if the Mahdi Army was the only force getting support from the Iranians.  Crocker responded by stating that Iran actually has a relationship with all the Shi'a groups in Iraq, including the central government and ISCI.  He also said that the Badr Organizations had now been integrated into the Iraqi security forces, but that it still has close ties to Iran.

In other words.  This idea that the Iranians are just taking Sadr's side in the intra-Shi'a fight is just inaccurate.

Spencer Ackerman has more.


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I'm glad for the line of questioning. But it is both depressing and astonishing that, at this late date, we still have to go through this kind of nonsense over the most elementary questions of fact. How on Earth can people make sensible decisions about Middle East policy if they don't even know what sides the major players are on?

And it is not like Iranian backing for the Iraqi government and its main Shia components has been some sort of dark secret, known only to our intelligence agencies and enterprising investigative journalists. Iran has for quite some time now been quite publicly and eagerly pursuing economic and diplomatic ties with Iraq across a range of fronts. Indeed, the US has several times gotten in dutch with its supposed Kurdish and Shia allies in Iraq for harassing and arresting Iranian envoys who were in Iraq on perfectly legitimate business, and as the welcome guests of those allies. The most straightforward deals and meetings between Iran and its next-door neighbor are ridiculously painted as Iranian "meddling" in Iraq. This from the leaders of a country that came from half a world away to invade Iraq. It's priceless.

Remember when former President Khatami made his trip to Harvard a couple of years ago. In his speech there, he said that Iran really didn't want us to leave Iraq! This has to be one of the most underreported comments of the past five years.

The Iraq-Iran-US game has to be one of the most absurd diplomatic situations we have ever seen. The Bush administration has gone through the most bizarre contortions in its awkward attempt to hide from the American people the fact that, in probably about 85% of situations in Iraq, Iran and the US are on the same side. It is apparently just painfully embarrassing to the Bush administration and its supporters that there turns out to be a substantial consilience of interests in Iraq between Iran and the United States. This fact runs so contrary to the deeply and obtusely held prejudices of Bushist Americans, that it cannot be fully cognized and processed, much less talked about. Americans have still not fully grasped the reality that, so concerned were Bush and Co. about the side they were on, they caved into much of the very insurgency that was attacking our soldiers, and have taken the side of the latter against the Iraqi government we helped create, and claim to back.

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