"After meeting with Mr. Rumsfeld, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said there was no firm timetable for any American withdrawal, but he noted that Iraqis "desire speed in that regard." " NY Times
There is a famous "bon mot" usually attributed to Palmerston in which the PM says that "countries do not have friends. They have interests." This truism is well demonstrated in what happened during Rumsfeld’s "surprise" visit to Baghdad today. Actually, Jaafari’s statement shows that the truism applies not just to states but also to ethno-religious communities that wish to rule states where once they were the under-class.
Jaafari and company are first, last and always Twelver Shia zealots who wish to rule where for many centuries they were ruled. (I, obviously would not include Chlabi’s INC in that statement) The process of growing a new government in Iraq that is now underway is essentially a process of handing the country over to the majority Shia. The Sunni Arabs know that. The Kurds know that as well, but the Kurds still think they will be able to retain at least as much autonomy in their mountains as they have now.
There has been much talk of the secular nature of the Iraqi Shia population. In fact, the Iraqi Shia Arab population has always been deeply divided between those who think themselved primarily Iraqi and those for whom Shia Islam comes first. It was the latter group that repeatedly revolted against Saddam’s government, and the same group and its leaders are now taking over Iraq. Jaafari is a semi-reformed, but altogether rehabilitated Dawa’ terrorist leader who was in the leadership of this group when it bombed the US Embassy in Kuwait. Dawa and SCIRI, the two militantly politico-religious Shia groups dominate in the new government. They are already deeply involved with the Iranian government. It is inevitable that they should be so whether they wish it or not. Iran is Shia. The surrounding Islamic world is overwhelmingly Sunni. What choice do the Iraqi Shia zealots have but to drift inevitably into the orbit of Iran. The Sunni Iraqi Arab and international Jihadi Sunni revolt in Iraq is widely supported among the populations of the Sunni Muslim World. What choice do the Shia of Iraq have but to look to Iran? They are not going to rely on us in the long run. To do that would be to accept the westernization and de-racination that the Bush policy clearly imples.
The process of shifting to an Iranian orientation has already begun. The formerly exiled Sunni Defense Minister, Dulaimi, of Iraq was in Tehran a couple of weeks ago and he and his Shia colleague who is Defense Minister there announced a mutual defense arrangement between the two countries that looked to have the Iranians train Iraqi troops in th future. This announcement in the press set off a tussle in washington after which we now "know" that Dulaimi was "way off the reservation," and "way past his instructions." From what was said today by Jaafari it looks like Dulaimi was pretty close to his instructions.
So, what will happen over the next years?
1-There will be a constitution. It will make Islam the supreme legal authority.
2-Kurdish autonomy will be grudgingly accepted for now.
3-Women will lose a lot of what they have achieved over the decades in Iraq.
4-We will be asked to leave as quickly as possible and at a rate that the Shia think we will accept. Iran’s forces and "volunteers" will "back up" the Iraqi government.
Beyond that there is the prospect of a different Middle East, but that is another subject..