Here we have a pair of linked articles. They are linked by the same unwillingness of the United States to understand the local situation in the Middle East, the state interests of Iran (as opposed to its religious ideology) and the need to adapt our own policy to local reality.
We do not see clearly.
In Basra the British have been defeated by the local interests of the several Iraqi Shia factions and their militias. Their assumption that southern Iraq was a reproduction of the counter-insurgency environment of Ireland has been proven wrong. The Shia militias are far stronger and more virulently anti-Western than "the boys" ever were. The depth of popular support for these militias is overwhelming. Those who are taking the Crystolian path of rejoicing in the success of the "surge" in central Iraq have little to say of how the US is going to cope with the British loss of southern Iraq to Shia militia control. In this situation of competition among Fadhila, the Maliki government, Dawa (to the extent that it is separate from Maliki), the Sadrists, and ISCI (SCIRI), Iran is doing well in a skilled game of playing off one group against another to ensure that there will not be a clear victor. This should be seen as reflective of a realistic analysis of Iranian state interests. In an idealized world Iran would seek only the victory of the Shia community without regard for its own future ability to manipulate the situation, but, this is not an idealized world. This is the other of the two worlds, the one in which countries still exist and have interests. The devotion of Iran to its state interests can also be seen in the willingness of Iran to give limited support to non-religious insurgent groups. For Iran the goal of helping these groups push America towards the door is sufficient to justify some strengthening of the enemies of the religious Shia community.
Jalal Talabani, a master of the art of the possible, and Hamid Kharzai have now both tried to tell the Bushies and their Crystolian chums that Iran is a potential asset rather than the inevitable and latest inhabitant of the doghouse to which the US consigns its mythic enemies. (Mythic enemies are often real enemies as well)
We had the Libyans out in the doghouse for a long time until someone told Qaddhafi that a modicum of drama in yielding to the need to confess his evil would produce wondrous results. Now we have Iran and Syria occupying adjoining doghouses.
Both are signaling a desire to negotiate their differences with the US. In the Bush administration with its Manichaean view of the universe, there has been no willingness to do anything other than to arrange the unconditional surrender of the two countries.
One imagines a scene in which Bashar Assad and Ahmedinajad walk up a slope together to the tent in which they will offer their swords. Oh! I forgot. We did that scene at Safwan. pl