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Karl at Protein Wisdom:

With the Iraqi Army defeating Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Basra, the L.A. Times has moved on to tell its readers how terrible things might get in Najaf. Buried in the middle of the piece, however, is a bit about the battle for Basra:

This time, the grand ayatollahs have declined to aid the incendiary cleric.

Three days into the Basra campaign, Grand Ayatollah Najafi issued a fatwa, or religious opinion or edict, that declared the Iraqi government as the only force in the country with the right to bear arms.

His son, Sheik Ali Najafi, left little doubt that the clergy had backed the Iraqi army operations.

“We see this as a positive improvement. . . . The people want the government to control the streets and the law to be enforced. No other groups,” he said, sitting in his study, furnished with cushions, a laptop and a clock bearing his father’s portrait.

Their stance is a gamble. An influential cleric who is knowledgeable about talks between the Sadr movement and the grand ayatollahs described the situation in bleak terms: The government is weak, and Sadr aides now acknowledge privately that they have lost control of members who are receiving support from Iran.

The opposition of the clerics to the Mahdi Army will likely be ignored by the Juan Coles and Matthew Yglesisases, who prefer to pass along Sadrist propaganda. The establishment media will likely do the same, particularly with regard to the Iranian meddling in Iraq.

Well, this would seem to confirm my comparison the other day of the role of Sadr to LOTR’s Saruman. (OK, a little geeky, but can you find anyone who a:) Doesn’t understand the comparison, and b:) can think of a better parallel in the popular culture?)

It also confirms what I have said for some time, now as regards the l;eft hitting the prayer mats every night for some way they can call Iraq a failure, and working continually working toward that end.

But what it also does is confirm that the real power being fought, is Iran. Clearly, Iran wants a Shiite government in Iraq. Iran, you see, has a history of this kind of activity in other places in the middle east, this setting up an proxy army for itself, which claims to be a native uprising. Lebenon, for example, where Hezbollah is the Iran’s army. It’s always truck me as odd that our leftist brothers here in the states can never quite figure that one out. That may be worth a post all by itself sometime, to explore the dynamics of that.

There is something to be said for the idea that Sadr has given his betters in Iran failure after failure. At the same time, however, this is a war of attrition, and with all such wars, there’s no hope of winning all at a go. And in any event, Iran has some history here, as well, again, the comparison to Lebenon and Hezbollah leaps to mind. As things now stand, and given that Iran as Sadr and his militia to do it’s bidding, it has nothing whatever to lose by continuing to supply them for as long as they’re willing to battle against Maleki and the Iraqi government.

Perhaps the most important thing to recognize, here, to aid in your understanding of all of this, is that all this in the middle east is not a war of country against country, but a war of culture vs culture… a war that Islam itself was supposed to cure, by placing both cultures under the one religion. It didn’t work, obviously, any better than separation of the two cultures by means of an artificial physical border did. The religion factionalized, along the same cultural lines that the war was originally about. I have been saying for many years that culture trumps government, and so it is, here.

All that said, it would appear that Maleki has, for the moment the upper hand. This advantage wold appear to me to be based as much on the perceptions of the people if Iraq that they have the ability for the first time in many generations, to make a better life for themselves, and so they reject the war as it’s been fought for the last few thousand years. How long this lasts, seems to me dependant on how much support from the rest of the world Maleki has. Inclduing that of the US.

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