Iranian Connection

StrategyPage has more on the issue mentioned in the Ralph Peters piece–the interraction of Iranian interests and the Shi’a uprising in Iraq:

What are the armed Iraqis fighting and dying for? The Sunni Arabs want to somehow avoid the retribution for crimes committed during Saddams rule. They know that, once the Shia and Kurds are in charge, that many Shia and Kurd families who lost loved ones to Saddams thugs know who did it. And many of the guilty men are from Fallujah and nearby Sunni Arab towns. There are also some powerful criminal gangs in Fallujah and the Sunni Triangle that see a “law and order” government putting them out of business. For the Shias who are fighting, it’s to establish an Islamic Republic and protect their leader, al Sadr, from getting prosecuted for killing other Shia clergy who opposed him. There are also Shia and Sunni who are out there fighting because it’s fashionable, in the Arab world these days, to hate Americans. And then there’s the Iranian connection. Since 1979, Iranian Islamic conservatives have preached that the United States, with all its democracy and freedoms, is the Great Satan and enemy of Islam, especially Shias. This hatred springs largely from the religious freedom practiced in America, instead of a police that recognizes Islam as the one true religion. While Iraqi Shias fought for Saddam against Iran in the 1980s war, you still have a generation of Shias who were raised on anti-American propaganda. To many Iraqis, it was stupid propaganda, but it got through to many. And if you can get a few thousand people with guns to die for you, as al Sadr has, you can make a mess. Iranian Islamic conservatives appear to be directly involved in working with Sadrs fighters. Yesterday, Sadr’s men began kidnapping foreigners, and demanding that foreign governments withdraw their troops. In one case, three Japanese civilians were taken, and the Shia gunmen who captured them demanded that Japan get it’s 550 soldiers (all support troops working on rebuilding projects) within three days, or the captives would be burned alive. The Japanese refused to withdraw its troops. But such barbaric tactics were used frequently by Iranian Shia radicals in Iran itself (where the American embassy staff was held captive for over a year) and in Lebanon (where it is used to this day.) The Iranian government denies any involvement, but they can say that with a straight face because the Iranian constitution allows the Islamic conservatives to run a parallel government, control the police and military and build atomic bombs.

There’s quite a bit more at the link.

Update: Michael J. Totten has more details on this emerging story, going so far as to say, “If true, this is a declaration of war by Iran.”

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.