Achcar Comments On Ic 122405 Gilbert

Achcar Comments on IC 12/24/05

Gilbert Achcar kindly writes:

‘ Dear Juan

Two remarks:

1) re: to the “informed reader” of your “informed comment” who wonders about the independent Sadrist list, Risaliyun, which you translated as “Messengers” (I am sure they would reject such an English label which would put them on a par with the Prophet: al-Rasul, the Messenger, the plural of which is Rusul, as you know, not Risaliyun). This list whose name could better be translated as the Upholders of the Message is indeed the one that the IECI refers to under the odd translation of “Progressives.”

[Cole note: The translation of Risaliyun as “Messengers” was that of a wire service report, not my own.]

This last-minute list of anti-UIA Sadrists was backed by one of al-Sadr’s collaborators, sheikh Abdul-Hadi al-Darraji. Its results in Baghdad (Darraji operates in al-Sadr City) where it got 1.8% of the votes compared with 58.5% for the UIA, in Basrah, another stronghold of the Sadrists, 0.5% compared with 77.5%, and in Najaf, 4% compared with 82%, show clearly that the vast majority of al-Sadr followers voted for Shiite unity within the UIA, as recommended indirectly by Sistani, and not for a separate entity. However, since the Sadrists have becomed golden boys in the political equivalent of hedge funds, it is likely that the purpose of this slate was only to attract the votes of the residual number of Sadrists who are vehemently opposed to the alliance with SCIRI. That would explain the relatively good score in Najaf where enmity is highest between Sadrists and SCIRI.

2) re: the story about the tanker full of forged ballots to which you devoted a long comment. What you say is very sensible. What should be added is that this story was printed very prominently by the New York Times on Dec. 14, quoting “an official at the Interior ministry… who spoke on the condition of anonymity” without the newspaper bothering to verify it, a fact which could mean that it was “whispered” to them by a US or Allawi-inspied “informant” as part of the very intensive disinformation and propaganda campaign engaged since several weeks by US authorities and their close allies in Iraq against the UIA and Iran. It was immediately denied by Iraqi official sources — the border police — who said they were even astonished to hear of it as nothing at all approaching that story was reported to them at any point of the border. (If I am not wrong, the NYT did not bother either to report the denial.)

The story was so little credible that nobody among the UIA or Iran’s opponents in Iraq made a fuss about it, though if it were real you can be sure that it would have become a major international and local news item and the object of strong statements from Khalilzad, the occupation authorities and Washington. The only other sources reporting it actually quoted… the NYT and the story is used in Arabic only by those among the fiercest Shiite haters who have no scruples about facts anyway.

The story about the arrest of a man in relation with the “forged ballots” which you refer to today is to be very much qualified. One should always describe the source that is quoted, especially when the odds that this source is biased are heavy indeed. In this case, this source is an anti-Iranian regime website, “Iran Focus,” and the fact that no Iraqi source, including anti-Shiite and anti-Iranian sources reported its story makes it highly suspiscious, as long as it is not confirmed separately (not by quoting Iran Focus, otherwise the whole thing turns farcical!) by reliable sources. The Dec. 23 dated dispatch of “Iran Focus” did not credit any specific source for their “information” but just said “according to Baghdad dailies.” You and me happen to read Baghdad dailies, and I haven’t seen any trace of that yesterday or today (correct me if you have seen any).

The rest of the Iran Focus dispatch is revealing in the same vein:

“Independent analysts in the Iraqi capital said the incident was not isolated and that Tehran had sent a huge number of fake ballots to Iraq to boost the performance of its protégés in the elections…. Last week, the commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, General George Casey, said that there was intelligence indicating that Tehran had “invested heavily” in political parties supportive of Iran in southern Iraq.” No further comment is needed.

All the best, Gilbert ‘

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