I don't believe this for many reasons, most of which I've written about before. My sense is that a democratic ally and bulwark against Iran doesn't enshrine sharia in its constitution; doesn't have a prime minister practically itching, as Nouri al-Maliki put it to Der Spiegel, to "prosecute crimes committed by U.S. soldiers against our population"; doesn't have 42 percent of a population which, according to a 2008 BBC poll, believes attacks on U.S. troops are acceptable; doesn't make the U.S. soldiers who protect it pay OPEC prices at the pump; doesn't express solidarity with Hezbollah; doesn't participate in the Arab boycott of Israel. And that's just for starters.
Now, thanks to a Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) report on Iraqi reactions to negotiations over the terms of the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq -- the long-haggled-over Status of Forces Agreement -- we have even more Iraqi attributes to factor into our grand strategy, if only our leaders would pay attention.
According to MEMRI's analysis of Arab press reports this summer, "the agreement was intensely opposed by most elements in Iraqi politics," with Prime Minister Maliki going so far as to visit Iran in June "to assure the Iranians that the agreement with the U.S. would not be detrimental to Iran. During the visit, he stated that all influential political elements in Iraq supported rapprochement with Iran in all areas, and that Iraq would not allow its territory to be used as a base for attacks against Iran."
Well, that's nice -- for Iran. Now, tell me again how U.S. interests are being advanced by propping up the Maliki government?
From the Iraqi religious world, the reaction to the U.S. side is no friendlier. "Shiite religious scholar Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani voiced opposition to the agreement, arguing that 'any agreement that harmed Iraq's sovereignty in any way was considered a violation of sharia,'" MEMRI writes. "Another three Shiite scholars in Najaf also condemned the agreement, warning that signing would constitute a violation of Islam and bring about a popular intifada. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Hakim, the head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (the largest Shiite group in the Al-Maliki government), also criticized the agreement, since it stipulated a continued presence of U.S. forces."
Condoleezza Rice flew to Baghdad this week to "see what we can do from Washington to get closure" on the agreement. Lots of luck on that. Because with "allies" like these, who needs ... Russians?
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