Why the Sunnis won't be returning to power
(AFP/Ahmad Al Rubaye)
It's really not all that complex.
The Sunni middle class and professional class now live in Jordan and Syria and London. Even the parliament lives there.
They have pretty much been chased out of Iraq by the marauding bands of Shia militiamen called the Mahdi Army or the Badr Organization.
And given the demographic and geographic realities of the situation, the Shia control access to Iraq's only port and the Gulf, as well as the oil, a Sunni revival isn't going to happen any time soon.
Besides, the Shia, all the Shia parties are committed to preventing that at any price, for obvious reasons.
While the Sunnis control Anbar province, they don't control anything else, and in mixed areas, the Shia are eviciting them by force.
What people are forgetting is that Saudi threats to help the Sunni are a joke. The Saudi Army is dysfunctional and is watched by the Saudi National Guard. Neither of which has been able to prevent al Qaeda terrorism there. The idea of the Saudis rolling north is amusing. They won't get past the bridges at Nasyariah. The US Marines barely did.
What no one wants, even Iran, is the genocide of the Iraqi Sunnis.
Sadr's main goal is ensure that the Shia have the same power the Sunnis did. Not less. No one ever asked the Sunnis to share power, despite their minority status, and now people expect magnanimity from the Shia where none existed before.
People who think Sadr is going to lose now live in a fantasy world.
A: The vast majority of Iraqis are poor Shia, maybe 50 percent of the entire population of the country. All poor might be 80 percent. But clearly, the average Iraqi is a poor Shia.
B: The Sadrist movement is the party of the Shia poor. Which is why Sistani backed the Badr Organization. People feared a movement of the Shia poor.
C: Sadr has access to more money and men than anyone in Iraq, including the Kurds. The oil runs through Shia lands, so does the country's port, and in Baghdad alone, he can raise an army of 100,000 to protest the Green Zone on any day. While the Mahdi Army has far fewer effectives, the loyalty to Sadr within the vast majority of Shia is unquestioned.
In a resistance movement or a liberation movement, exiles rarely take power. Why? Because they are usually unable to claim authentic leadership. There are exceptions, like DeGaulle, but that was based on his open opposition to Vichy. But for the most part, to lead the country, you have to lead the resistance, like Ho Chi Mihn.
The American puppets, Maliki, the Hakims, all lived in exile before 2003. The Sadr family did not.
So when people are asking who represents them, it's the Sadr family. They challenged Saddam and lived. They survived the Shia uprising and the years of repression. So when Sadr talks about the past, it is a shared past they lived.
Even if he died, his followers would turn him into a heroic martyr for his people in a religion which venerates martyrs.
Sistani backed the Hakims, and now they don't know which way to turn. Sadr out fought them in Basra, and controls Baghdad. Their main strength is in the Army. The Hakims had money and Iranian support, and were able to use that money to buy an army and political power, but as the battle moves to the streets, they aren't able to compete.
So now, they'll go talk to Bush. Which could be a way of delivering a message or of admitting weakness. Either way, Hakim is now in second place and knows it.
posted by Steve @ 2:27:00 PM