Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The Shi'a of Iraq

Bartle Bull writes in the FT magazine ( 'No Will, No Way', 30 Oct) and at greater length in Prospect, 'The coming of Shia Iraq' (link - still accessible ).
On rooftops and in the streets [of Sadr City] there are many Shia flags, mostly green and black. ...   The green ones are for Ali and his martyrdom. The black ones are for al-Mahdi and the hope of his return. Black is the colour of Shia optimism. 
And guess who's still exercising great influence behind the scenes.
Iraqis know that [Ahmed] Chalabi is the one man alive without whom Saddam would still be their ruler. And from the moment of Saddam's fall, just as leading up to it, Chalabi has done everything right. He has publicly (if not necessarily privately) fallen out with Washington over a featherweight intelligence stink involving Iran. The world has watched the Allawi government vandalise his house and issue a ludicrous arrest warrant accusing him of counterfeiting Iraq's worthless old currency. Shortly before I last spoke to Chalabi, he had survived an ambush that killed two of his guards at Mahmudiya in the Bermuda triangle.

Saddam, Washington, Allawi, the Sunnis: Chalabi has the right enemies. When I pointed this out to him at his house in Baghdad last month he laughed and said: "That's not a bad thing."  

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