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Bush Winks at Iran

Posted on Dec 4, 2006
Bush and Hakim

President Bush meets with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim in the Oval Office.

With Moqtada al-Sadr walking out of Nouri al-Maliki’s government, the Iraqi prime minister is desperate for the support of prominent Shiite Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and his 30 parliamentarians, which may explain President Bush’s meeting with the politician earlier Monday.  However, Hakim has strong ties to Iran, which is widely assumed to equip and fund his militia, placing Bush in yet another awkward tap dance between stability in Iraq and hostility toward Iran.


On the surface, the message seems clear enough. As leader of one of the most powerful blocs in Iraq’s parliament, Hakim is one of the few Iraqi politicians positioned to rescue the foundering government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. As sectarian violence has exploded over the past several weeks, Maliki’s hold on power appears more tenuous than ever. Even some of Bush’s closest aides, like National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley, have questioned whether Maliki is up to the job. And the problem was only compounded last week when followers of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr announced they would boycott Maliki’s government. The Sadrist threats probably aren’t enough to topple Maliki’s government on their own. Still, securing the support of Hakim’s bloc of 30 parliamentarians—the same number as those who support Sadr’s party—seems more urgent than ever for Maliki and his allies in Washington.

Yet at least some Iraqis say they are also getting another signal. The final report of the Iraq Study Group, due to be delivered on Wednesday, is expected to call for talks with Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran. And Hakim could end up emerging as a key conduit, acting as a “mediator” between the United States and the Islamic republic, according a senior Iraqi government official, who didn’t want to be identified discussing sensitive diplomacy. The Iranians “send a very clear message through Hakim,” says the Iraqi official. “They want to be recognized and reckoned with.”

It wouldn’t be the first time that the Bush administration has turned to Hakim for help. In one sense, American policymakers considered the Hakim family natural allies during the original push to overthrow Saddam Hussein. As a son of the Grand Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim, Abdul-Aziz was born into one of Shia Islam’s most prominent families. In 1982, he helped to found the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)—one of the key groups working to overthrow the Iraqi dictator. When Hakim’s brother Baqir was assassinated in Najaf in 2003, Abdul-Aziz took over the group’s leadership, and was eventually appointed president of the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council in 2003.

But Hakim’s ties to Iran’s clerical leadership—along with his command of SCIRI’s Badr Corps militia, which fought against Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war during the 1980s—also made him a dangerous figure in the eyes of at least some Americans. At a press conference back in March 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed Hakim’s Badr fighters as “unhelpful,” and declared that the militiamen be “treated as combatants.”
“The Badr Corps is trained, equipped and directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard,” Rumsfeld insisted. “We will hold the Iranian government responsible for their actions.” Even Sadr regularly rails against the dangers of Iranian influence in Iraq, warning that the country’s intelligence operatives are trying to infiltrate his organization. In recent months, Hakim’s Badr forces have periodically clashed with Sadr’s Mahdi Army, fueling tensions even further. Some worry that a fight between Sadr and Badr could be just as bloody as the current Sunni-Shia violence.


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By Brookie, December 4, 2006 at 10:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

GW did you really hear what was said, beyond your requip..He stated no intervention by any other country
ie. Leave Iraq !
Leave it to the Iraq’s to solve there own problems
Did you really listen or is this just a photo Op??
GW does the world have to drop on your head for you to figure out what to do next??
or are you really that far beyond the curve??
Iran is supplying weapons to Iraq, what does that tell you GW?
Some of us don’t need an Iraqi study group to conclude how this is going to go..

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By Quy Tran, December 4, 2006 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Murderer meets with murderer !

No more comments.

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By Eco Avila, December 4, 2006 at 6:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Certainly glad the President Bush talking to the shi’a in the WhiteHouse Eco Avila!
The mother of resources is communications.
Finally the full circle from the days the shi’a uprising thinking PresidentBush Sr. would continue to baghdad in operation DesertStorm;to khalifatul mu min killing fields upon fields of Shi’a in Iraq in 1992 till 2003 Liberation of Najaf by Bush W.jr.US Army,and the turning of the keys of the city of Najaf to the People of the house of Ali ibn Talib and the shia of Ali.
The Face of Islam@Arabi’a.
The face of .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
The Bismalla the heart and soul of Arabia.
@the ba of the bismalla ,the alif ba 123456789till evrlasting.The diacritical mark@the ba,like the light off the moon and sun,evrlasting.
The City of Jurisprudence Representative@the WhiteHouse Historical turn of events for the good of the Democratic Coalition of the willing nations from the books,scriptures reason and benefactor of opening high level talks between the people of the books.
The Insurgentcy .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
Monkeys under the guise of arabia flew planes into the NYState of Mind4evrlasting Memorial2victims of sunni-insurgentcy@Karbala,Najaf,Sammara,Lahore,mass-graves evrywhere.
The Cemetery@Najaf the edge to evrlasting.
take care the ones you love concealed weapons detection rule@the entrance of the airport.
Please take off your shoes!

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