Chalabi met Iran Quds Brigade commander; Voting begins in Iraq; Sadr’s warrant an Error

Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that it has gotten hold of an American intelligence document detailing undue Iranian influence in Iraq and in the Iraqi elections. The document says that Ahmad Chalabi and Ali al-Lami, influential members of the ‘Jusice and Accountability Committee’ in charge of purging Baathists from public life, met repeatedly with Iranian officials last fall. Among those they met were Qasim Sulaimani, head of the special forces Jerusalem (Quds) Brigade and the Iranian foreign minister. US Commanding Gen. in iraq, Ray Odierno, charged that Iran was behind the campaign to disqualify over 500 alleged Baathists from running in Iraq’s March 7 parliamentary, and this document seems to lend some credence to the allegation.

Anxiety among US officials about Iran’s influence, especially via militias such as the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq, is underlined by WaPo today.

AP alleges that Iran is responsible behind the scenes for getting the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and the Sadr Movement form a coalition, the National Iraqi Alliance.

Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer asks if Iraq is really a democracy, and comes up with a resounding ‘No!’ She gives as evidence the repeated arbitrary arrests of a Sunni Arab young man who served as a whistle-blower on Shiite militia ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in his neighborhood. She also quotes Ali Allawi on the lack of effective checks and balances.

Early voting begins today in Iraq for members of the armed services, hospital patients, and others who are prevented from getting to the polls on Sunday. Nearly a million persons are expected to cast a ballot on Thursday.

Some newspapers are asking whether the Sunni Arabs will flex their muscles in this election.. They may, but only if they do not vote on a sectarian basis. If Sunnis can make themselves an indispensable constituent of secular parties supported by Shiite urban middle classes, they can get some leverage. Otherwise, Iraq’s parliament at the moment has only one chamber, and electing explicitly Sunni Arab slates dooms them to insignificance, since they will only have a fifth of seats in parliament. Sunni Arabs in Iraq’s parliament will always be outvoted on an issue of national significance.

In something less than a resounding vote of confidence in the electoral progress, the Shiite grand ayatollahs said Tuesday that they are genuinely afraid of ballot fraud in the March 7 parliamentary elections.

The Iraqi government is now saying that the appearance of the name of Muqtada al-Sadr on an arrest list was an error, and that no attempt will in fact be make to take him into custody. (Sadr is now studing in seminary in Qom, Iran.]

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6 Responses

  1. The Marja'iyya has also warned against corruption of the voting process. Grand Ayatullah Muhammad Ishaq Fayyad has warned students of the Hawza against selling votes or backing particular slates of candidates.

  2. If a foreign power occupied Canada and Mexico, neighbors of the US, wouldn't the US have every reason to be fearful and want to influence elections in Canada and Mexico? Iran has every reason in the world to be concerned about US occupations and interference in Iran's region of the world. The US has NO business being in the region as it does not belong to them. Would the US allow Iran to occupy Canada or Mexico ??

  3. The leader of the "Independent" Electoral Commision, a Kurd from Barazani's Peshmerga, said that nearly 20 million Iraqi have the right to vote. Given that more than half the population are under 18, that turns Iraq's estimated 26M into 40M.

    He also defended printing 7M extra ballots saying that its normal to print an extra 10%, of 70M voters now?

    Fraud was rife in all previous elections, but the Iraqis, Americans, UN and EU all kept quite. In fact the UN said the Afghan elections were fair too until Galbraith blew the whistle — for some reason.

  4. An American intelligence document, The Washington Post, General Ray Odierno: sterling sources for sure.

    It seems that “The Surge is Working” is no longer the appropriate slogan. The new message, articulated in todays NYT: “U.S. officials are worried that the parliamentary elections scheduled for Sunday could ignite violence that would complicate the planned troop withdrawal”. I can’t wait to see what the new slogan will be.

    And the beat goes on…

  5. Al-Sharq al-Awsat says that it has gotten hold of an American intelligence document detailing undue Iranian influence in Iraq and in the Iraqi elections.

    It makes it sound all cloak-and-dagger. In reality an American handler almost certainly passed it to them which doesn't sound very sexy. In fact, it would make them look like Quislings.

    Then think a bit deeper about that statement, "hold of an American intelligence document detailing undue Iranian influence in Iraq". I suppose that American influence is not "undue" even though they are occupying Iraq.

    Perhaps a bit of context is necessary here. Who owns Al-Sharq al-Awsat? It couldn't be Prince Salman bin Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd al-Rahman and he couldn't possibly be a bit upset that Saudi Arabia is not exerting "undue influence" in Iraq?

    Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer asks if Iraq is really a democracy, and comes up with a resounding 'No!'

    Is America a democracy? {resounding}No!

    Hasn't any one in America heard the old saying – men in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones.

    BTW FWIW, I don't think Iraq is a democracy but there are things such as life and security which are probably far more important to the Iraqi people, so I am not going to criticize them for the lack of it. Any attempt to establish "real democracy" in Iraq would be met by a violent response from those occupying forces since the Iraqis would almost certainly want to kick all Americans out of Iraq and support the Palestinians against Israeland Washington would never allow that.

  6. Professor Cole, assuming that the elections turn out to be reasonably democratic and fair, I would like to hear your prognosis for Iraq's economic and civil future. What comes next?

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