Monday, February 12, 2007
Iran's Men in Iraq--Who Are They??
Details of Iran's Surrogates in Iraq
Baghdad, Iraq (2/12/2007) --One of the key players in Iraq today is Iran. It is important to know how Iran operates in Iraq today. Iran works through surrogates, primarily of Iranian origin, who are usually either on Tehran’s payroll or who have ties to Iranian secret police, intelligence agencies, or military services. The vast Iranian governmental agencies bankroll and arm a handful of parties and militias in Iraq, to do their bidding in Iraq.
1) Who's Who of Iran’s Men in Iraq
Here are some of Iran’s important surrogates in Iraq:
a) “Jawad Al-Maliki” or "Nuri Al-Maliki" (real name “Nuri Kamil Al-Ali”) current Prime Minister, is a member of the Iranian-backed Dawa Party, like the previous Premier Ibrahim Jaafari Ashayqar. He comes from the village of Jalaajil, in the district of Tawayreej (Al-Hindiya), which is between the cities of Hilla (Babylon) and Karabala. Iraqi writer and historian Asir Abdel-Rahman says in his new book, in which he coined a new term, ("The Democra-Sectarianism of Iraq") reports that Nuri comes from the tribe of Graydhat (originally Beni-Quraydha). Some of the members of this tribe include the famous songwriter Salih Al-Kuwaiti (who wrote the well-known folk song “Khadiri Chai Khadiri”) who later fled to Israel, and famous news announcer Rushdi Abdel-Sahib. Nuri lived in both Iran and Syria from 1979 to 2003. Intelligent reports cited in many media sources report that Maliki was the head of the "Jihadi" operations of Dawa while in Syria, referring to terrorist attacks in Iraq and the Arab Gulf states during this period, most notably the car bomb attack on the Kuwaiti Royal Family in the 1980s.
b) Ibrahim “Jaafari” (real last name “Ashayqar”), previous prime minister, is from Pakistani origins. His grandfather immigrated from Pakistan. Ibrahim’s father was granted Iraqi citizenship, although he continued to maintain his Pakistani citizenship for himself and his children. Ibrahim’s sister, for instance, who lives in Babylon province, still does not have Iraqi citizenship and last year reportedly renewed her residency in Iraq as a foreigner. Ibrahim was the spokesman of the Iranian-backed Dawa Party.
c) Abdel-Aziz “Al-Hakeem” (real last name “Tabatabaee”), head of the Iranian-backed “Supreme Council on Islamic Revolution in Iraq” (SCIRI) and its Badr Militia. His grandfather Mahdi migrated from the Iranian city of Tabataba to Najaf. He practiced herbal cures for ills at the time and was labeled “Al-Hakeem” which means “physician.” Abdel-Aziz’s father Muhsin became a religious leader in Najaf but maintained his Iranian citizenship. Abdel-Aziz himself reportedly still has Iranian citizenship, and his son Ammar, who is a spokesman for SCIRI, reportedly is wanted for conscription in the Iranian Army. Two years ago, Ammar had written to former Iranian President Khatemi to grant him special permission to be excused from Iranian military service. Unlike most Iraqis, Aziz still publicly refers to the Arabian Gulf, as the "Persian Gulf" as do the Iranians.
d) “Bayan Jabr” (real name “Baqir Solagh Shishtazali”), current Finance Minister and formerly the Interior Minister under "Jaafari," is from Iranian Turkic (Azeri) origins. His father immigrated to Iraq and lived in Kadhimiya district of Baghdad. Solagh is a member of the Iranian-backed “Supreme Council on Islamic Revolution in Iraq” (SCIRI). It’s Badr militia dominate the Interior Ministry security forces.
e) “Mawafiq Al-Rubayee” (real name “Kareem Shahpoor”), current National Security Advisor, is originally from Iran, specifically from the city of Shahpoor. He was one of thousands of Iranians deported from Iraq in 1979.
f) Hussein Shahristani, current Oil Minister, is a member of the Shiite coalition. His father is Iranian and comes from the Iranian province of Shahristan. Some members of Hussein’s family still do not speak Arabic. He was a nuclear scientist in Iraq who fled to Iran just prior to the Iran-Iraq war. He was accused by former Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem Shaalan in 2005 of illegally working on the Iranian nuclear program.
g) Ali “Al-Dabbagh” (real last name “Bayajoon”), official spokesman for Prime Minister "Maliki" and former spokesman for Iranian cleric Ali Sistani and member of the Shiite coalition. His grandfather immigrated to Iraq, and settled in Najaf.
h) Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, is one of the top Shiite religious authorities in Najaf. He is Iranian from the province of Sistan, which borders Pakistan. Former Prime Minister Jaafari offered the Iranian cleric Iraqi citizenship, but Sistani refused it saying “I was born as an Iranian and will die as an Iranian.” Sistani still does not speak Arabic fluently and uses translators. He refuses to do any TV and radio interviews in order to avoid appearing to Iraqi audiences as non-Iraqi.
2) Shift in Iranian Alliances in Iraq in 2004-2005
There was been a major shift in alliances in Iraq in late 2004 and early 2005. The first major one is the Dawa-Sadr alliance. The Dawa Party is an old religious (fundamentalist) Iranian-backed Shiite party, led by the current Prime Minister "Maliki." Dawa is a small party in size, only about 400 in number, but are made of many highly educated people (doctors, lawyers, etc).
The Dawa Party made an alliance with Moqtada Sadr, the young sectarian leader who led a brief revolt in 2004. Sadr, who capitalized on his father’s and uncle’s fame has made claim to lead the militant “Sadrist movement” which claims to speak for the poor Shiite masses. The young Sadr made his fame as a result of the brief revolt he led in the summer of 2004, and established the militant “Mahdi Army” militia, which is made up mostly of poor unemployed young hoodlums who have established a reputation for brutality. They were famous for killing Shiites who became Sunnis, but recently become infamous for killing just regular Sunnis.
The Dawa views the Sadrists as their grassroots, while Sadrists view the Dawa party as their leadership. Both ex-premier Jaafari and Sadr were invited to Tehran in 2004 and reported to have received millions of dollars to do Iran’s bidding in Iraq. This was an about face for Sadr who was very vocal (in 2003 and 2004) and critical of Iran’s meddling in Iraq and the Iraqi Shiite movement. But obviously everyone has his or her price. Sadr's Mahdi Army Militia (also known as JAM by the US military) is now controlled and directed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Quds Force division, and is directed by the senior Iranian commander, Qasim Sulaymani.
That new Sadr-Dawa alliance was a slight to Iran’s traditional proxy, the “Supreme Council on Islamic Revolution in Iraq” (SCIRI) and their Badr Militia led by Abdel-Aziz “Hakeem” Tabatabi. Hakeem’s group, which became notorious for torturing and massacring Sunnis, had lost its popularity among most Iraqis because of its cooperation with the US military. They recently lost favor with Iran (although they are still financed by Tehran), due to their previous cooperation with the U.S. They now play seconds to Dawa-Sadrists.
This would be similar to a first girlfriend who loses favor with her boyfriend to some newer prettier girl; she tries to win her boyfriend back. That’s why Hakeem proposed the US-Iran talks, to prove to Iran that they are still useful to Tehran. Iran strongly backed a Dawa candidate (e,g, Jaafari or Maliki) as Prime Minister. The Shiite Alliance of Dawa, Sadrists, and SCIRI narrowly voted for Jaafari, but the alliance only has 47% of the Parliament seats (so much for the myth of the “Shiite Majority”). The prime minister needs 67% of the votes in parliament to form a government. The majority of the Parliament opposed Jaafari, that's why they had to pick Maliki.
After the Samarra dome attack in February, Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia went on a bloody rampage and bombed and torched about 150 Sunni mosques throughout Baghdad and the South, killed tens of Sunni religious leaders (Imams), and rounded up thousands of Sunnis in mixed neighborhoods and killed them in cold blood. Since this happened under Jaafari’s reign (along with the Badr Death Squads operating from the Interior Ministry), the Sunni Arabs stand totally opposed to his leadership. The death squads have continued their reign of terror under Maliki as well. Everyday, on an average of 150 bodies of Sunnis show up on the street or morgue tortured to death by the Mahdi Army militia or Badr militia.
There are rumors in Washington and Baghdad that Maliki has only until the end of May of 2007 to clean up his act and stop covering up for the militias doing the sectarian killings. After that word is that the SCIRI leader, current VIce-President Adel Abdel-Mahdi (real last name “Muntafaji”) might be picked as an alternative prime minister. He was a former Baathist in 1960’s and 1970’s like Ayad Allawi and worked in the Iraqi Embassy in Paris under the Baathist government. He later quit and became a Communist in the 1970’s. Then in the 1980’s he became religious and joined Hakeem’s group (SCIRI).
There are not too many choices left, especially since the tensions with Iran, the puppet controller of these leaders, is increasing.
After the U.S. military began the Baghdad security operation in February, 2007, Sadr and thousands of his Mahdi Army militiamen fled to Iran, to hide from possible arrest. This opens the door to fresh new Iranian elements to take over militia activity in Iraq.