Martin and Malcolm, Chalabi and Muqtada
An informed Iraqi Shiite writes:
” 1.Chalabi is setting himself up to be Martin Luther King to Muqtada’s Malcolm X. I predict he will head to Najaf soon to mediate.
“2. You are absolutely right: Muqtada has won, and alive or dead the movement he has sponsored will keep fighting the American forces until they leave. I think the likelihood of theocracy in Iraq has skyrocketed. What is the United States to do? Install Ayatollah Sistani as the anti-theocracy voice of secularism? Preposterous isn’t it. History will record the Sayyid Muqtada Al-Sadr was the first hero of the Islamic Revoloution in Iraq. Iran’s islamic republic has taken over 20 years and still hasn’t evolved into a “real” democracy. I hope it won’t take that long in Iraq. The war against the Americans will likely be followed by a civil war to oust whoever the Americans install as dictator. Then the Islamic Republic will be established and hopefully eventually evolve into a democracy, but that could take 50 years. I am not optimistic.
“3. I get your point with the analogy, but please do not compare Muqtada to David Koresh. I think a better analogy is that Ayatolah Sistani is the grandfather or patriarch of the family, and Muqtada is a teenager with issues. Like the kid who says “I hate you Dad!” but doesn’t really mean it, or acts out anger or frustration. At the end of the day Muqtada has respect for Sistani (he has offered to disband his militia and leave Najaf if Sistani commands him to.) and Sistani considers Muqtada one of his own and will not critisize him by name publicly (i.e. outside the family).
“4. Your warnings to other Shia groups are right on target, anyone seen as siding with the US against Muqtada is politically doomed. The issue is not Muqtada’s popularity vs. Sistani’s the issue is Muqtada’s popularity vs. Paul Bremer’s. Six months ago most Iraqis would have prefered Bremer, now it is Al-Sadr by a landslide. Chalabi’s attempts to distance himself from the US highlight that point.