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For those who see the situations in Lebanon and Iraq as a continuum of the same Islamist efforts for regional control, it will come as no shock to learn that Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army receives training from Hassan Hasrallah's Hezbollah. It might come as more of a shock that the New York Times actually reports it, as well as the role Iran plays as a facilitator between the two:
A senior American intelligence official said Monday that the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had been training members of the Mahdi Army, the Iraqi Shiite militia led by Moktada al-Sadr.
The official said that 1,000 to 2,000 fighters from the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias had been trained by Hezbollah in Lebanon. A small number of Hezbollah operatives have also visited Iraq to help with training, the official said.
Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. Syrian officials have also cooperated, though there is debate about whether it has the blessing of the senior leaders in Syria.
So what have the Hezbollah "trainers" taught the Mahdis? The usual: "weapons, bomb-making, intelligence, assassinations, the gambit of skill sets," all of the basics for creating the kind of stable, secure Iraq that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad promised Nouri al-Maliki on his trip to Teheran yesterday.
Quite obviously, Iran and Syria (who also figures prominently in the Hezbollah-Mahdi arrangements) do not have any interest in moderation and democracy in the region. The Syrians want to control the Mediterranean side of Southwest Asia, and the Iranians want to promote radical Islamist fervor -- preferably of the Shi'ite flavor, rather than the Wahhabi al-Qaeda strain. Their every step indicates that they want to see the nascent democracy in Iraq undermined for the same reasons we want it to flourish: a successful democracy in Iraq will mortally destabilize their own regimes and their grip on power.
That is why notions of engagement with these two notorious terrorist-supporting states should be a non-starter. Nothing they have done indicates that they see the Middle East in terms other than completely hostile to our interests or the interests of liberty and self-determination, even where one might make an argument that the two diverge. The only items that Iran and Syria want to discuss with us regarding Iraqi democracy are the terms of our surrender and retreat. So-called "realists" want to endorse diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria but fail to acknowledge that reality in any manner, making them even more Utopian than the so-called neocons who want to work towards the ultimate goal of ending Iranian and Syrian hegemony through terrorism.
At one time, we decided to fight the war on terrorists and their state sponsors in order to end the use of terrorism as a technique for extortion. Now many want to acquiesce to Iranian- and Syrian-sponsored terrorists in order to more quickly surrender.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Hezbollah Training Iraq’s Mahdi Army from Outside The Beltway | OTB
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Hezbollah Training The Mahdi Militia?Ed Morrissey For those who see the situations in Lebanon and Iraq as a continuum of the same Islamist efforts for regional control, it will come as no shock to learn that Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army [Read More]
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