19 June 2003

Iraq democratizing Iran?
In Najaf, SAIRI cadres are actually hoping that the Iranian Islamic Republic will not influence Iraq; they'd rather see the new Iraqi experiment being able to democratize Iran. Meanwhile in Qom, the Grand Ayatollah Saanei, who talked to Asia Times Online last year, has told French daily Le Monde that "it is out of the question to transfer our system to Iraq. The United States should not interfere politically in Iraq, and this also applies to ourselves." Saanei remarked that all great "sources of imitation" - or marja'a, the highest echelon of the Shi'ite clergy - who have lived in Qom, all of them came from Najaf. For him, Najaf and Qom complement each other.

Will Iran and Iraq complement each other? The answer may hinge on the impact of the more than 3,000 Iraqi Shi'ite religious leaders who came back home from exile in Iran. If a separation between religion and politics successfully takes place in Iraq, the road is paved for a secular Shi'ite-dominated Iraqi regime being able to give the Iranian theocracy a democracy lesson. If the Americans allow it, of course.

The whole article should be read, if only because the neologism 'occuberator' deserves to get a run. More seriously, there must be someone among the Bush advisers who knows something about the tensions between Iraq's Shi'a clergy and Iran's. Surely? Please? Maybe?

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