Iranian Influence on Iraqi Shiites
Ed Wong of the New York Times has a fine piece Saturday on Iranian influence on Iraqi Shiites. It seems pretty clear that the Iranians are giving money to various Shiite groups, though they are spreading it around so widely that it seems likely they are like some American lobbyists, hoping to have the gratitude of whoever comes out on top. If they were trying to put some particular group in power, they would concentrate their giving on that group. But they seem to have given money to a secularist like Ahmad Chalabi as well as to religious parties like the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Sadrists of Muqtada al-Sadr. I am quoted, saying that the Iranians are buttering both sides of the bread and all four crust edges, and this is the sort of thing I meant.
Wong pulled the following out of a US official, and it seems to me right:
‘ “They want a failure of America in Iraq, but they hope the country will be stable enough not to destabilize Iran,” said a Western diplomat in Baghdad with extensive experience in the region. “The best thing for them would be a stabilized Iraq with a friendly Shia power in Baghdad created in opposition to the occupation forces.” ‘
Also, this outcome seems quite likely.