Rumor with a bang...
Green Zone Rumor of the Week:
The Iranians are plotting to assassinate Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
What the ...?!??
Here is the reasoning: the Iranians want to preempt the Americans, whose only remaining card is to threaten the removal of Maliki’s government if he does not play ball by disarming the militias. If the Iranians go ahead and kill Maliki, then the political situation will be thrown into turmoil, and the Americans will be unable to push through a plan as ambitious as tackling the “Mahdists.”
The “Mahdists” are the part of Muqtada Al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army that no longer listens to him. They are infiltrated and run by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. They are also responsible for the vast proportion of the reprisal killings conducted against Sunnis, as well as the recurrent confrontations with Coalition troops. The “Mahdists” call themselves the mummehidoon, literally “those preparing for the advent of the Mahdi,” or the equivalent of the Messiah is Shi'a Islam. Another role for them is to keep long-time clients of Iran’s, like the Hakim family, from veering too far off from Iranian influence. The “Mahdists” represent Iran’s most important operational assets currently active in Iraq. And it seems that Iran’s current strategy is to keep Iraq chaotic.
Maliki is more or less beholden to the Iranians, and they can exercise firm control over his affairs and watch his every move through his staff and through other acolytes of Revolutionary Guard within the Da’awa Party. But at the end of the day, Maliki is expendable. Nobody would have ever considered him for the PM slot in the first place, and his passing from the scene will leave no serious political aftereffects.
The ones left with pie on their faces would be the Americans, rendering their threats of changing the Maliki cabinet superfluous. They would have to go along with whatever Shi'a PM candidate that is hurriedly agreed upon by the political blocs, which can only come about through Iranian connivance. Hence, it is a win-win situation for the Iranians.
Recently, many talented Iraqis security officers have been getting themselves killed in southern Iraq. Some people speculate that it is the Iranians killing them off in preparation for igniting the Shi'a south against the Americans.
The Iranians are a patient people, who play their cards carefully. They are often described as a nation of carpet-weavers (knotty and intricate) and chess players (plenty of strategic posturing). But as with chess the Iranians are afflicted with a recurring desire to bring the game to “checkmate” thus securing a sudden and overwhelming victory. This really doesn’t happen that often in politics or history, and has caused the Iranians to fumble many times in the past.
The Maliki assassination is supposed to coincide with some sort of Hezbollah action against the U.S. backed Lebanese cabinet of Fouad Siniora in Lebanon and a similar Hamas stunt against Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas. Both Hezbollah and Hamas are heavily influenced by the decision makers in Tehran.
America’s Middle Eastern strategy hinges on Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian authority. If all these places blow up in America’s face at the same time, the Bush administration would look very foolish.
Or it could be something else altogether. Maybe Maliki’s DNA tests came back positive, proving that he is indeed Jewish (check out IraqPundit’s interesting post here). The Iranians can’t possible live with that!
UPDATE: I have posted the transcript of Sunday's 60 Minutes show on corruption at Iraq's MOD within the comments sections. Fascinating stuff. In retrospect, the column I wrote back in August 2005 isn't bad. Here it is again: Rotten Fish.