Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder reports that the Shiite militias have taken control of much of southern Iraq, and that these militias are being trained and armed by Iran.
Southern Iraq, long touted as a peaceful region that’s likely to be among the first areas returned to Iraqi control, is now dominated by Shiite Muslim warlords and militiamen who are laying the groundwork for an Islamic fundamentalist government, say senior British and Iraqi officials in the area.
The militias appear to be supported by Iranian intelligence or military units that are shipping weapons to the militias in Iraq and providing training for them in Iran.
Some British officials believe the Iranians want to hasten the withdrawal of U.S.-backed coalition forces to pave the way for Iran-friendly clerical rule.
Iranian influence is evident throughout the area. In one government office, an aide approached a Knight Ridder reporter and, mistaking him for an Iranian, said, “Don’t be afraid to speak Farsi in Basra. We are a branch of Iran.”
Just think — our military misadventure is helping Iran expand into Iraq. We should send them a bill for services rendered.
Meanwhile, President Bush is promising to “complete the mission.” Which is what, exactly? To establish the United Islamic Republic of Greater Mesopotamia? Maybe we’ll finish the famous $592 million embassy in Baghdad in time to hand the keys over to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Wouldn’t that be a bite just 27 years after the Iran hostage crisis? I’m sure Saint Ronnie of Blessed Memory is pleased.
Update: See also Juan Cole —
Iran is perhaps the only unambiguous winner in the new situation in Iraq, and its foreign minister was basking in the glow on Saturday. On Friday, Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari defended Iran’s right to have a civilian nuclear energy program. That can’t be what Washington was going for in backing the new Iraqi government.
Y’know, maybe it was what Washington was going for. Or at least, when Iran takes over Iraq, I’m sure the Bushies will have talking points explaining why that was the plan all along …
Update: Riverbend (thanks, Swami!) wrote,
[After the fall of Baghdad] We immediately began hearing about the Iranian revolutionary guard, and how they had formed a militia of Iraqis who had defected to Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. We heard how they were already inside of the country and were helping to loot and burn everything from governmental facilities to museums. The Hakims and Badr made their debut, followed by several other clerics with their personal guard and militias, all seeping in from Iran.
Today they rule the country. Over the duration of three years, and through the use of vicious militias, assassinations and abductions, theyâ€™ve managed to install themselves firmly in the Green Zone. We constantly hear our new puppets rant and rave against Syria, against Saudi Arabia, against Turkey, even against the country they have to thank for their rise to power- Americaâ€¦ But no one dares to talk about the role Iran is planning in the country.
The last few days weâ€™ve been hearing about Iranian attacks on northern Iraq- parts of Kurdistan that are on the Iranian border. Several sites were bombed and various news sources are reporting Iranian troops by the thousand standing ready at the Iraqi border. Prior to this, there has been talk of Iranian revolutionary guard infiltrating areas like Diyala and even parts of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the new puppets (simply a rotation of the same OLD puppets), after taking several months to finally decide who gets to play the role of prime minister, are now wrangling and wrestling over the â€˜majorâ€™ ministries and which political party should receive what ministry. The reason behind this is that as soon as a minister is named from, say, SCIRI, that minister brings in â€˜his peopleâ€™ to key positions- his relatives, his friends and cronies, and most importantly- his personal militia. As soon as Al-Maliki was made prime minister, he announced that armed militias would be made a part of the Iraqi army (which can only mean the Badrists and Sadrâ€™s goons). …
…So while Iraqis are dying by the hundreds, with corpses turning up everywhere (last week they found a dead man in the open area in front of my cousins daughters school), the Iraqi puppets are taking their time trying to decide who gets to do the most stealing and in which ministry. Embezzlement, after all, is not to be taken lightly- one must give it the proper amount of thought and debate- even if the country is coming unhinged. …
… The big question is- what will the US do about Iran? There are the hints of the possibility of bombings, etc. While I hate the Iranian government, the people donâ€™t deserve the chaos and damage of air strikes and war. I donâ€™t really worry about that though, because if you live in Iraq- you know Americaâ€™s hands are tied. Just as soon as Washington makes a move against Tehran, American troops inside Iraq will come under attack. Itâ€™s that simple- Washington has big guns and planesâ€¦ But Iran has 150,000 American hostages.