Sunday, December 10, 2006

Democrats’ New Intelligence Chairman Needs a Crash Course on al Qaeda Democrats’ New Intelligence Chairman Needs a Crash Course on al Qaeda

Jeff Stein in Democrats’ New Intelligence Chairman Needs a Crash Course on al Qaeda makes a lot of good points. The incoming House Intelligence Committee chair, Silvestre Reyes, appears to know no more about who the players are in the Middle East, esp. in their Sunni/Shia allegiances, than do the Republicans he quizzed last summer, nor of much of the Administration. But he really needs to ask the same question about all of the Administrations between Carter and Clinton too.

Actually, though I think that Carter was probably the worst president of my lifetime, the U.S. probably wasn't getting it wrong back then. We were being attacked by the Shiites back then, both by the Iranian students taking over our embassy, and then later when Hizb'Allah blew up our Marine barracks in Lebannon. And much of this can be attributed to our support of the Shah.

But then we, and the Saudis, started worrying about the Shiites. The difference is that the Saudis saw the Iranians and their Shiite faith as a threat to their own dominence in the Moslem world. And so, they set off to encircle and isolate Iran. This included: funding the factions in Afganistan that turned into the Taliban; apparently helping the Pakistanis with their nuclear bomb; setting up thousands of schools around the Muslim world, esp. seminaries, all teaching their Wahhabi puritan brand of Sunni Islam; supporting Saddam Hussein until he invaded Kuwait, esp. in his war with Iran; support for terrorist groups, including al Qaeda; support now for the shrinking Sunni presence in Iraq, including providing the bulk of the foreign born jihadists and much of the money being spent to support the indiscriminate mass murder of mostly Shiite civilians there; support for the more militant Sunni Palestenian groups; etc.

But one place where I disagree with Stein is that I still think that it was essential that we intervene in Iraq. Besides all of the geopolitical, etc. reasons I have given before, what must be remembered is that 80% of the population there was being brutally oppressed by Saddam Hussein and his Sunni Arab brethern. The level of brutality had escalated significantly after the U.S. under the elder Bush pushed the Shiites and Kurds to rebel against Saddam in the aftermath of the First Gulf War. They rebelled, with the implied promise of help from us, which never came (except in the form of the soon-to-be-discontinued no-fly zones), due to a lot of pressure by, guess who? Yes, the Saudis. The Saudis didn't want then, and still don't want a Shiite dominated Iraq on their doorstep, and, thus, forced us to throw the Shiite Marsh Arabs and the Kurds to the wolves, in the guise of Saddam and his Sunnit Arab brethern.

Another thing that he misses there is that our Iraqi incursion has allowed a lot more intercourse between Iraq and Iran. And one of the benefits of that has been the significant rise of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in promience and influence in his native Iran, from his residence in Iraq. He represents traditional Shia Islam, as opposed to Ayatollah Komeini's more puritanical, and, thus, more Sunni-like, Shia Islam. And part of this differrence is that Sistani is quite willing to push democratic solutions and is opposed to clerics running a country, as is the case right now in Iran. This philisophical division goes back for decades to well before Komeini and his clerics took over Iran, to when he and Sistani's mentor and teacher, Grand Ayatollah Abul-Qassim Khoei, debated this issue. But until our liberation of Iraq, the Khoei/Sistani position was underground in Iran. No more.

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