This, from a reader:
Despite what the wingnuts will say, the least Iran-friendly Shiite political player of significance in Iraq today is Sadr. That’s not saying that he avoids all contact with any Iranian elements, but he’s much less tied to Tehran than other Iraqi political parties who depended on Iran’s support/shelter for many years during Saddam’s reign. This includes SCIRI, Dawa and even some Kurdish factions. Maliki is from Dawa and he owes his PM’ship to Sadr so if Sadr wishes, Dawa would probably loosen their ties with Iran. What is interesting to note, however, is the recent arrests of Iranian officials in Iraq by US forces have occured at a SCIRI compound and at an Iranian diplomatic office in the Kurdish controlled North. In those cases, the loudest critics were SCIRI and the Kurds. To the best of my knowledge, Sadr was silent on this issue and Maliki offered lukewarm protest. Could it be that Sadr/Maliki indirectly tipped off the US to the presence of these Iranian officials and their alleged actions in Iraq? Could this all just be part of an internal powerplay, with the Sadr/Maliki coalition looking to lessen the influence/power of their political opponents by a) removing their all-important Iranian support and b) tying these opposing parties to the evil Persians? As Mr. Klein suggested re: the seemingly unopposed Mahdi Army crackdown, are we being used by Sadr/Maliki in other ways in their struggles against their political opponents?
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
–Yes, the Sadr family has long had a very prickly relationship with the Iranians, but…
–My intelligence sources say that the Iranians have “doubled down” on their support for Sadr as he’s emerged as the de facto leader of Shi’ite Iraq in the past year.
–And yes, in cold realpolitik terms, he may be the least Iranophilic of the possible leaders of Shi’ite Iraq. But…
–The business about Sadr and Maliki not minding the raids on the Iranians may be a bridge too far. I’ll check it out.