By Peter Galbraith
(This essay appears in the October 11 issue of the New York Review of Books and is posted with the permission of the editors of that magazine.)
A Long, Good Essay
"......Muqtada has made Iraqi nationalism his political platform. He has attacked the SIIC for its pro-Iranian leanings and challenged Iraq's most important religious figure, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, himself an Iranian citizen. Asked about charges that Iran was organizing Iraqi insurgents, Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told The Financial Times on May 10, "The whole idea is unreasonable. Why should we do that? Why should we undermine a government in Iraq that we support more than anybody else?"
The US cannot now undo Bush's strategic gift to Iran. But importantly, the most pro-Iranian Shi'ite political party is the one least hostile to the US. In the battle now under way between the SIIC and Muqtada for control of southern Iraq and of the central government in Baghdad, the US and Iran are on the same side. The US has good reason to worry about Iran's activities in Iraq. But contrary to the Bush administration's allegations - supported by both General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker in their recent congressional testimony - Iran does not oppose Iraq's new political order. In fact, Iran is the major beneficiary of the US-induced changes in Iraq since 2003."