January 23, 2006
No Bout Adoubt It - I Mean No Doubt About It
Intel gathering is so much easier when the subjects "out" themselves!
American analysts have dithered for a couple of years now whether Moqtada Sadr, the buffoonish son of an honored Shiite cleric, was in fact in bed with the mullahs of Iran... or whether he just happened to have a lot of friends east of the border (who all happened, by merest chance, to join the same private army together). Well, waffle no longer, chums, because here comes Sadr himself to clarify things:
The Iraqi cleric who once led two uprisings against U.S. forces said Sunday that his militia would help to defend Iran if it is attacked, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Of course, there will always be wiggle-room for the intentionally blind:
Muqtada al-Sadr, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with the top Iranian nuclear negotiator, said his Mahdi Army was formed to defend Islam.
"If neighboring Islamic countries, including Iran, become the target of attacks, we will support them," al-Sadr was quoted as saying. "The Mahdi Army is beyond the Iraqi army. It was established to defend Islam."
But in a curious slip-up for the Associated Press, more commonly found declaring "on the other hand, on the third hand, on the twenty-third hand," they appear to admit that this is a risible fiction:
The comments could be seen as a message that Tehran has allies who could make things difficult for U.S. forces in the region if Iran's nuclear facilities are attacked.
Finally, in the Famous Last Words category, we have this nominee:
Al-Sadr's backing of Iran, a Shiite majority nation, follows a hint from Israel's defense minister that the Jewish state was preparing for military action to stop Iran's nuclear program. A few days earlier, French President Jacques Chirac said France could respond with nuclear weapons against any state-sponsored terror attack. The comments were seen by some as a reference to Iran.
"I don't see any threat against Iran," Iran's nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said after meeting with al-Sadr. "Iran is big and strong and it is a hard target."
Of course. Almost as big, strong, and hard as Iraq.
In any event, I think we can now deposit the burning question of Sadr's actual loyalty into the box of "known knowns," as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld might put it. And that, at least, is "helpful."
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, January 23, 2006, at the time of 3:04 AM
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