December 29, 2007

Iraqi Shi'ites Push Back Against Iran

The religious connection between Iran and the Shi'ites in southern Iraq have caused significant concern of dissolution of the Iraqi federation. Not all Shi'ites in that region have a love of Iran, however. An op-ed in Kitabat, an Iraqi newspaper, calls any Iraqi Shi'ite cooperating with Iranian agents a "traitor":

Any Iraqi Shiite who doesn’t frankly and publicly reject Iran’s interference is an Iranian agent, a traitor and a coward.

Any Iraqi Shiite who doesn’t boycott Iranian goods is a traitor and a coward.

Any Iraqi Shiite who doesn’t attack the nests of Iran’s intelligence agencies within Tehran’s embassies, consulates and charitable institutions is a traitor and a coward.

My Shiite brother, you now confront a great test of your patriotism, your honor and your loyalty to Iraq ... declare with a loud cry your rejection of Iranian interference and prove to one and all that you are an honorable Iraqi patriot.

The author, a Shi'ite himself, uses typically florid Arabic prose to denounce his co-religionists who foster violence and sectarianism. We often wonder aloud why we hear few voices of reason and peace. This call to both in an Iraqi newspaper column seems fairly significant.

William Kerr notes briefly that the Iraqi Shi'ites have begun losing patience with the hardliners among them. They mostly want to return to a peaceful life and take the opportunity for prosperity that Saddam's fall has allowed. They may have wanted revenge for the first few years on the Sunnis that oppressed them, but the result of the revenge has proven very unsatisfactory. Mostly, they don't want Iranians, al-Qaeda, or any other foreign provocateurs causing murderous feuds; they just want to see what freedom will bring them.

The cease-fire of the Mahdi Army and the intercession of Iraqi government forces in the south appears to have given everyone an opportunity to take a deep breath. With Iran losing favor among the Iraqi Shi'ites, the momentum towards peace may build in 2008.


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