Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Martin Sieff, chief news analyst for UPI, writing for Salon, makes a pretty persuasive case that the future Prime Minister of Iraq was behind the fateful decision to shut down al-Hawza and go after al-Sadr:
There is no way that the move against al-Sadr was undertaken without Chalabi's prior knowledge and explicit approval. Instead, given the extraordinary degree to which the Pentagon policymakers and Vice President Dick Cheney continue to privately disparage the far more accurate, sober and reliable professional assessments of the U.S. Army's own tactical military intelligence in Iraq, it appears clear that, yet again, Chalabi was the tail that wagged the dog. He could have been expected to urge the move on al-Sadr in the first place.
The benefit to him is obvious. Chalabi believes -- as do his still-worshipful Pentagon backers -- that he has the blessing of supposedly moderate Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the mainstream chief religious authority of the Iraqi Shiites, to take power on July 1 with the force of 110,000 U.S. soldiers and their automatic weapons behind him.
However, just as the neocons lead President Bush by the nose, and Chalabi leads them by the nose, Sistani and the Iranians have been leading him by the nose.
Sistani's policy toward the CPA and Chalabi has been no different from the way he survived as an ayatollah all those years under Saddam Hussein, which was no mean feat. Sistani is playing a cautious waiting game and avoiding the ire of those who currently are top dog in Baghdad. He will drop Chalabi -- and the United States -- at the drop of a hat as soon it becomes clear that they cannot run or tame Iraq.
How's that saying go? -- Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me. Fool me repeatedly over and over again, and we give you $340,000 a month and make you Prime Minister.