March 26, 2008

Freedom Fighter Called “Terrorist” by INS

Karen DeYoung published a story in the Washington Post that ought to embarrass anyone making decisions about who deserves permanent residence in the U.S.

Saman Kareem Ahmad is an Iraqi Kurd who worked as a translator with the Marines in Iraq’s Anbar Province. He was one of the few selected translators who was granted asylum in the U.S. because he and his family were singled out for destruction by insurgents for “collaboration.” He wants to return to Iraq as an American citizen and a Marine, and has already been awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter and General David Petraeus wrote notes for his file and recommended he be given a Green Card, but the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) declined his application and called him a “terrorist.”

The INS says Ahmad “conducted full-scale armed attacks and helped incite rebellions against Hussein’s regime, most notably during the Iran-Iraq war, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom” while a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

The KDP is one of two mainstream Kurdish political parties in Iraq. Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani is a member of the KDP. The KDP fought alongside the United States military as an ally during Operation Iraqi Freedom. After Operation Desert Storm the KDP fought the Saddam regime after President George H. W. Bush called on Iraqis to do so. During the Iran-Iraq War, the KDP fought the Ba’athists because they were actively resisting genocide in the Kurdish region where Saddam used chemical weapons, artillery, air strikes, and napalm to exterminate them. And he’s a terrorist?

The Kurds in Iraq–unlike the Kurds in Turkey and the ever-popular Palestinians– did not use terrorism as a tactic in their struggle for liberation. They fought honorably against Saddam’s soldiers, not against Arab civilians in south and central Iraq.

Read the rest in Commentary Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 26, 2008 10:53 AM
Comments

Sometimes the US gov't is so dumb.

Thanks for the note, maybe one of the generals or admirals who might be starting to notice your honesty will say a word and get this horribly stupid decision reversed.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad Author Profile Page at March 26, 2008 12:17 PM

"The bureaucratic mentality is the one constant in the universe." (or something like that.)

Dr McCoy in Star Trek the Wrath of Kahn

Leave it to some stupid entrenched mid-level government bureaucrat that can't read a damn newspaper to screw up a great story. Saman Kareem Ahmad has done something that many ignorant and lazy Americans have taken for granted; fight for freedom. Call it "faith", but something in me tells me this will get fixed. They should start by beating whoever is responsible in the INS with a "stupid stick".

Posted by: PeteDawg Author Profile Page at March 26, 2008 12:36 PM

What's really Kafkaesque about this is that the guy's entire family was wiped out by a gas attack on a Kurdish village. The thought that someone could be denied citizenship because they fought against a government that did that is absurd.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 26, 2008 12:46 PM

Wow, pretty ridiculous.
Thanks for bringing this to our attention, MJT.
Hopefully other news agencies will take the ball from you and run with it. I can only hope a large spotlight being cast on the INS will result in a much-needed reversal of opinion.

Posted by: Joe Author Profile Page at March 26, 2008 1:04 PM

The military must have been convinced of his loyalty to American efforts to have hired him as a translator in the first place. I'm not familiar with the process, but some government agency (homeland security?) reviewed his past and ultimately approve that decision.

So where is the disconnect? If he was a terrorist who recently switched allegiance to the winning side, that's one thing. But apparently, this man was a freedom fighter an an US ally?

Just two weeks ago an illegal alien gangster shot down a promising high school football player in LA. The police knew about his illegal status (he was arrested before) but did NOT deport him. I'm sympathetic to immigrants in American legal or otherwise, but we can always kick out a wannabe drug gangster from Mexico and replace him with Saman Kareen Ahmed. If there's anyone whose children deserves electricity and running water and attend UCLCA, it is this man.

Posted by: lee Author Profile Page at March 26, 2008 3:05 PM

Unbelievable, and to think these same people would probably be overly sensitive about applying the label "terrorist" to actual terrorists. I'm going to have to deal with immigration officials myself soon when I apply for a green card in a month or so. Not looking forward to the interaction.

Posted by: medaura Author Profile Page at March 26, 2008 4:09 PM

Applying for the green card was a long and excruciating for me, and that was BEFORE 9/11. For my interview I had to wait at the line in front of INS (somewhere at downtown LA, ugh) at 5 am. Didn't acutally get inside building until aroun 9 am or so.

Posted by: lee Author Profile Page at March 27, 2008 12:38 AM

It does seem like a stupid move to me. They ban guys like this, yet our own government recently played host to some of the leaders for Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), formerly known as Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI),

These guys are REAL terrorists, being trained by Iran, and are currently fighting other Shi'a terrorists in the al Jaysh al Mahdi. So you have Shi'ite terrorists in uniform, the Badr Brigades, fighting non uniformed Mahdi fighters.

Now we are a part of an inter terrorist turf battle and have taken sides with one of the terrorist groups and actually had their leaders here to DC. These guys have clear and open ties with Iran and Hizb'Allah, yet they walk the halls of power in our nation's capital.

Stupid.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at March 27, 2008 10:35 AM

Michael, any forthcoming commentary on the current crisis in Iraq?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 27, 2008 2:20 PM

DPU: Michael, any forthcoming commentary on the current crisis in Iraq?

Probably, but I'm not quite ready to tackle it yet. I have out of town guests coming in tonight and am pressed for time.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 27, 2008 2:28 PM

DPU,

Iran is a sore loser, this is their attempt to wring victory from the jaws of defeat. ...except that the Mullahs count sectarian violence, abject poverty, rampant brutality, and widespread misery as victory. They don't put that in the brochures, though. Bill Roggio has a good post on this: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2008/03/iraqi_security_force_11.php

I trust Bill on this a lot more than the major outlets.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at March 27, 2008 6:47 PM

Patrick,

In what way is Iran the loosers here?

Their hand picked men in Iraqi uniforms; members of The Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq/members of the Badr Brigades are the ones killing the Mahdi Army guys.

Most of the Mahdi Army are lower class/poor Shi'ites and are Iraqi nationalists. Those in the Iraqi Army and the Ministry of the Interior are Shi'ites and members of pro-Iranian groups.

Hizb’Allah has trained many of these men in Iraqi uniforms. I fail to see how that is something positive.

Seems to me they are doing a fine job of killing Iraqi nationalists and remaining true to the Iranian interests that trained and funded them.

The very reason these pro-Iranian Iraq troops and (SCIRI) support the US invasion/occupation is because they realise it gives the Shi'ites, and the Iranians, the upper hand in Iraq.

The real winner in this whole affair in Iraq is Iran, and there is no doubt about that. Iraq, under Saddam Hussein, was the only country in the area that had the ability to stand against Iranian military and influence.

No matter what you think of the war, it is clear that the Iranians are one of the major beneficiaries of it.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at March 28, 2008 6:21 AM

Iran is a sore loser, this is their attempt to wring victory from the jaws of defeat. …

I have to echo - I don't understand this. Maliki and the Dawa/SIIC coalition are far closer to Iran than al-Sadr is. If anything, this is Iran's move to marginalize al-Sadr's movement before elections, and ensure an Iranian proxy government in Iraq.

Could it be that you are unaware of this very basic fact?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 28, 2008 9:51 AM

DPU,

There are no straight lines in the Middle East. I know of at least seven different Kurdish anti-mullah groups competing to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran. Your assertion is that one group of Iranian influenced and backed group cannot possibly be fighting another. Get real. There is no monolithic control in Iran and pretending otherwise does not make it so.

Further you are asserting that every group in Iraq with strings attached to Iran responds perfectly and precisely to meet the needs of their puppetmasters. And you are asserting that Iranians couldn't possibly be making mistakes.

The Mahdi Army is a loose conglomeration at best. Some of them are doing things according to orders of Iranians. Some of them are doing things according to the orders of Sadr (and how much daylight is between him and Iran today is a different topic for another time). Some of them are doing things because they see their followers dribbling away and want to act right now to keep their forces together.

My best guess based on what I'm getting from Roggio, who is on the scene and getting pretty current information, is that some Iranian groups are backing the violence in Basra.

It still bugs me that when the situation becomes complicated, it looks like you want to throw up your hands and walk away. Maybe Iraq frightens you because so many elements are incomprehensible from Vancouver. If it makes you feel any better, I am certain that there are people fighting the Iraqi government right now because things are incomprehensible to them in Basra.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at March 28, 2008 12:58 PM

Your assertion is that one group of Iranian influenced and backed group cannot possibly be fighting another. Get real. There is no monolithic control in Iran and pretending otherwise does not make it so.

Yet you assert that al-Sadr is Iranian-backed, and the current crisis is Iran being a sore loser. How does that work?

It still bugs me that when the situation becomes complicated, it looks like you want to throw up your hands and walk away.

Once again, your imagination is getting in the way of reality. Where do I say, or even imply, that hands should be throw up and the US should walk away?

Why do you keep making this stuff up?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 28, 2008 7:46 PM

I dont think Patrick is making stuff up, I think he is making his statements based on what he believes in accordance with what he knows. Just because it doesnt add up the way I think it does, doesnt mean he is making it up.

Iran has about as much interest in seeing violence and instiability reign in Iraq as we would have in seeing a multi-facited civil war take place in Mexico. It makes no sense. Both sides here support Iran in one way or another.

As-Sadr folks, most of them lower class and power, are nationalists. When one looks at the nationalists in any country they are almost always composed of lower class/working class/poor. The supporters of the opposing side which populates the Iraqi Army, Ministry of the Interior and are often dual members of the Badr Brigades, tend to be a lot more supportive of Iranian meddling in Iraqi affairs.

Whereas some as-Sadr followers might do so, against the grain of the rest of their movement, the Iranian influence with al Hakim and the Badr Organisation is a top to bottom core principle of belief.

At the end of the day I guess we should approach this like law enforcement should and ask what motive do the Iranians have for fomenting this current round of fighting between Shi'ite militias?

Iran, in their counterparts in the Badr Brigades, already control most of Southern Iraq anyway. If as-Sadr's group is as pro-Iranian as some would like us to think, the fighting between the groups would be an "own goal" in that having two sides, which you control, fighting each other is not a good idea.

Iran is top dog in this fight no matter who wins. They are the top dog in the whole struggle. This is fact and it is why the Saudis and other Sunni states in the area are so worried.

The toppling of Saddam is a complete windfall for the Iranians. No matter what you think of Saddam, or which way you look at the war, it cannot be argued that Iran is not the country coming out on to here.

Iran has everything to gain by a stable and Shit'ite dominated Iraq and everything to loose if the country breaks apart and Shi'ites fight Sunnis in set peice civil war battles and Iraqi Kurds declare independence and Iranian Kurds want to head the same direction.

Everyone trying to claim Iranian involvement in this has yet to make a valid case as to WHY they would be interested in it.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at March 29, 2008 10:40 PM

BTW,

I wonder where Mary is? I also wonder if she saw as-Sadr on Al Jazeera today? The other day she was so sure that the guy was dead, that he had been poisoned by the Russians months ago and would never be seen again.

Here he is now on al Jazeera, smiling like the Cheshire Cat, sounding a whole like he has been getting educated by someone. The ghetto Mullah has gotten an education.

Mary, if you buy into conspiracy theories that easily you have been spending too much time in the Middle East!

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at March 29, 2008 10:46 PM

I wonder where Mary is? I also wonder if she saw as-Sadr on Al Jazeera today? The other day she was so sure that the guy was dead, that he had been poisoned by the Russians months ago and would never be seen again.

I didn't say that al Sadr was dead. I said that he appeared to have been involuntarily taken out of commission by unknown forces that appeared to be more powerful than himself.

My 'conspiracy theory' was that the press, which has been selling the idea that terrorists are all-powerful, unbeatable fighters were wrong when they said that al Sadr was the most powerful man in Iraq.

Al Sadr and terrorists thugs like him are not the omnipotent god-like masterminds the press portrays them to be. They're more like weapons, maneuvered and positioned to be wherever their handlers want them to be. We should be paying less attention to easily manipulated figureheads like al Sadr, more attention to the men behind the curtain.

In any case, Al Sadr was always pushing for a truce. Now he's offering one again.

Iran is top dog in this fight no matter who wins. They are the top dog in the whole struggle. This is fact and it is why the Saudis and other Sunni states in the area are so worried.

That is true. Our terror-supporting Saudi allies are weaker than Iran, and if we back them in their mob war with Iran, the conflict will probably weaken our already weak economy. This (and the fact that the KSA will always stab us in the back) is one of many, many reasons we shouldn't be supporting our terrorist Saudi friends.

PS. why do you call him "As-Sadr" ? I thought that was just a typo, but apparently it's not?

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at March 30, 2008 8:07 AM

Iran has about as much interest in seeing violence and instiability reign in Iraq as we would have in seeing a multi-facited civil war take place in Mexico. It makes no sense. Both sides here support Iran in one way or another.

Long-term violence and instability in Iraq is not in Iran's interest, but short-term violence and instability might be, depending on who comes out on top.

Sadr has told his followers to down arms, it looks like this round is pretty much over. Who benefited from it?

Posted by: rosignol Author Profile Page at March 30, 2008 1:18 PM

I dont think Patrick is making stuff up, I think he is making his statements based on what he believes in accordance with what he knows.

No, I was referring to Patrick's constant and unceasing misstatements about what I think, and what he imagines are my opinions.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 30, 2008 6:31 PM

Marc,

Iran has about as much interest in seeing violence and instiability reign in Iraq as we would have in seeing a multi-facited civil war take place in Mexico. It makes no sense.

Let's put this one to bed forever: Iran is not Sweden. Sweden is not governed by fanatic religious authorities. Sweden decided to become modern and liberal; the Islamic Republic is governed by people who despise most things we view as modern and liberal, although they seem to be willing to embrace nuclear weapons.

The Islamic Republic welcomes strife and disorder on their border! Violence at the gates supports the status quo. The Islamic Republic can maintain their brutal conscription policies indefinitely when their neighbors are at war. The Mullahs do not love stability, they love submission.

We are dealing with rulers who encourage their people to beat themselves bloody as part of their religious observations, and you think they love stability?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at March 30, 2008 6:51 PM

Patrick,

So basically your idea is that because they are religious fanatics all common sense immidiately leaves their brain? They might be fanatics, but idiots they are not. If you think so you do so at your own peril.

Iranians, religious fanatics or reformers, have no interest in seeing Iraq fall apart nor in watching what some people view as their proxies fight out a battle that they have already won.

This is shallow thinking.

Mary,

I thought you spoke some Arabic? If you did you'd be exactly aware of why I write "as-Sadr" or might write "an-Nakheel".

Of course transliteration is a dodgy business and I am not that good at it myself, but anyone who speaks even a small amount of Arabic would not wonder why it is written this way. It is a molst very basic concept of Arabic.

This basic fact of Arabic was something they taught in my first week of Arabic at the University, although since I already had a pretty decent knowledge of Arabic I already knew it.

You said before you could speak enough Arabic to order food. I would think one of the first things anyone would learn is the use of definite articles and how they work in Arabic. Ordering something in Arabic and completely messing up even the basics of using an article would be a bit embarassing.

I suggest you look up "Definite Article" in the link below, it will help you next time you need to order a shawarma in Beirut.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Manual_of_Style_(Arabic)#Definite_article

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 12:26 AM

Marc,

So basically your idea is that because they are religious fanatics all common sense immidiately leaves their brain? They might be fanatics, but idiots they are not. If you think so you do so at your own peril.

Take a deep breath and think for a moment that people who beat themselves bloody to observe their religion may have a different pain threshold than you do. They very likely have a different relationship to pain than you do. (I really hope they do.) A nation that gathered up its people to use them as human mine detectors does not mind a pretty substantial amount of blood to accomplish its ends.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a fascist theocracy that repeatedly shows a willingness to harm its people for the immediate political goals of its leadership. (I try very hard to distinguish between the Mullahs and the people of Iran, because there is a lot of daylight between them.) Iranians are not idiots, but the Mullahs just do not care about thousands of people dying on their doorsteps. Even very intelligent people are subject to folly, and fascists are extremely vulnerable to that failing.

Do not assume that your vision of basic good matches theirs. Do not assume that what you see as obvious is a concern they prioritize.

I've talked Iranian Political Prisoners of the Islamic Republic. There is a massive disconnect between the Mullahs and the people. The Mullahs put a substantial hit on their GNP just so that women will appear subservient. Why do you think they will not screw themselves for other doctrinal follies?

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 12:56 AM

Marc,

Let me put this into perspective differently. The Mullahs got their country into a war with Iraq that was about the 4th bloodiest in the bloody 20th Century. I believe that the Mullahs were not held accountable in any meaningful way for that folly, and I do not have any reason to believe that they will avoid similar folly in the future. It has been almost twenty years since Iran stopped bleeding, about as long as the interim between WWI and WWII.

I believe that the Mullahs are willing to make Iraq bleed because they know that an organized Iraq can beat them down. With US assistance, an organized Iraq can destroy the Islamic Republic.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 1:13 AM

The biggest reason Iran supports violence in Iraq should be obvious: it keeps the American military busy. The mullahs know they will not be "next" because of it. There is no "next" while Iraq burns.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 1:29 AM

Patrick,

Your understanding of the conflict between Iraq and Iran is different than mine is. Unless I am wrong, it was Iraq who invaded Iran, not the other way around. Never mind the fact that it was based on long standing disputes that had little or nothing to do with "the Mullahs".

It was also Iraq that failed to defeat Iran, even with arms and funding from America and the West, nevermind massive chemical weapons attacks against Iranian civilians and troops. No one in their right mind would think that Iraq would be in a position for decades to come to confront Iran.

Heck, little old as-Sadr seems to have drawn them into a stale mate and forced some rather large consesstions, and all he has for fighters are a bunch of uneducated ghetto troops. Imagine Iraqi troops up against heavy artillery, massive air attacks and a couple thousand tanks. If they cannot handle untrained part time fighters with light weapons, they'd be mowed down by a trained and equipped military.

Iraq's military will not be a match for any of it's neighbors for a decade or more in the future. This is a fact well known by American military leaders, it is even given as one of the reasons for a continued US troop presence in the country.

Also, I fail to see WHY a Shi'ite dominated Iraq, led by figures with close ties to Iran,. would be interested in "beating down" these very same benefactors? You subscribe an animous towards Iran that the leaders of the Shi'ite community in Iraq do not have. You are transposing an American animus on the Iraqi Shi'ites which doesnt exist.

You have yet to give me any reason why Iran would be interested in causing strife in a country RUN by people beholding to it? It makes no sense, the leaders of Iraq are pro-Iranian Shi'ites, why would Iran be interested in changing that?

Comparing this conflict to WW1 and WW2 is WAY out in left field. I dont even know why you would bring it up unless you are just looking for a time period between major conflicts. You could very well have used the period between the French Indian Wars and the War of Independence. It would have about as much bearing on the Iran/Iraq issue as the wars in Europe does.

You say "I beleive that the Mullahs are willing to make Iraq bleed because they know that an organised Iraq can beat them down. With US assistance, an organised Iraw can destroy the Islamic Republic".

But that just flies in the face of logic and the facts we have at hand. Why would an "organised Iraq" want to "beat down" Iran in the first place? Not to mention that they would not be able to even have a chance for decades.

Let me remind you that the leaders of Iraq have GOOD relations with the Iranians. I guess you forget the rather good reception given the Iranian President recently. It makes absolutely no sense.

The current arrangement in Iraq is the best that Iran could have hoped for, it's allies are in the government, troops trained by it's Revolutionary Guard control the Ministry of the Interior and much of the Iraqi military.

What we are seeing in Iraq is almost a "best case scenario" for the Iranians.

As to the Iranians wanting to foment violence to keep America occupied, I am sure they are well aware, like everyone else, that short of a Gulf of Tonkin incident there is almost NOTHING that they could do that would draw America into war against it, and the latest Intelligence Estimate put paid to any thoughts about an attack against Iran without clear provocation.

Actually, if what you say is true and Iran is pushing violence in Iraq it is endangering it's current VERY safe position in regards to an American attack.

Logic would dictate that it would be a clear violation of Iranian interests to push for Shi'ite on Shi'ite violence.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 6:32 AM

I thought you spoke some Arabic? If you did you'd be exactly aware of why I write “as-Sadr” or might write “an-Nakheel”.

Of course transliteration is a dodgy business and I am not that good at it myself, but anyone who speaks even a small amount of Arabic would not wonder why it is written this way. It is a molst very basic concept of Arabic.

I've already noted that I don't know much Arabic, but I do get fussy about poor communication and reading skills in English. It's a waste of time to fuss about grammar and spelling on the 'net, but the purpose of language is to communicate. You weren't really communicating. The standard English spelling of al Sadr's name is "al Sadr". That's the standard used in all the news reports. I was just wondering why you chose to ignore that.

If you want to give an Arabic lesson, I suggest you go over to Juan Cole's 'Informed Comment.' He calls al-Sadr "al Sadr" too. Some expert.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 7:00 AM

Mary,

Dont get upset because your Arabic skills are lacking, there is still time.

The proper transliteration of words that begin with "Shamshia" letters in Arabic is just as I said, "as-Sadr" is indeed the correct and professional transliteration for such a word in Arabic. However, it is not uncommon for people who do not speak, read or write Arabic to make this mistake.

I pretty much think most of the "news" reports out there know about as much about their subject as they do about Arabic grammar and proper transliteration; hence it doesnt surprise me when they get it wrong.

I think you are upset that your whole conspiracy theory just went out the window. Try to deal with what we know, not make it up as we go.

BTW,

Some here are saying Iran is encouraging the violence, funny, but sources have said that Iran was instrumental in STOPPING the violence. makes sense, like I said, silly to have Shi'ite groups killing each other when they already run the government and are already in Iran's pocket. But then again, CNN is often untrustworthy.

Is Iran both encouraging, and at the same time, discouraging the violence? Look to motive and cause. Iran has every reason to see that peace prevails for it's surgates in the current Iraqi government.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/03/31/iraq.main/index.html

Sources: Iran helped prod al-Sadr cease-fire

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 8:23 AM
Hmmm.
At the same time, the Americans' portrayal of Sadr has also changed. The Evil One of the last civil war, a man wanted by authorities and dubbed the "most dangerous man in Iraq" by Newsweek, has been repackaged as a leader to whom General Petraeus now attests a sense of responsibility. US military officials speaking on Iraqi television refer to him respectfully as "His Excellency Muqtada."

They know that they owe their successes partly to his withdrawal, and still do today. "Sadr is not the enemy," Ambassador Ryan Crocker said last week in Baghdad. The Americans, he added, are battling "special groups" and "extremist military elements" that Sadr apparently "doesn't have under control."

Ouch. Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 9:53 AM

Marc,

My concern is the Mullah's conduct during the Iran-Iraq war more than who kicked it off. The Mullahs herded up villagers and used them to clear minefields. As atrocious as Saddam was to Iranians, the Mullahs were arguably worse during the war.

While it is true that Saddam's mines killed the Iranians, the Mullah's that drove the peasants through the minefields were the reason for the deaths.

Let me remind you that the leaders of Iraq have GOOD relations with the Iranians. I guess you forget the rather good reception given the Iranian President recently. It makes absolutely no sense.

You keep drawing straight lines in the Middle East when none exist organically. I have good relations with hardline revolutionary communist Iranians. They link my blog proudly, and not just because their doing so freaks me out. They know I do not want them in power in Iran and do not want my help in achieving the revolution; but compared to the insanity of the Mullahs, I am a good friend.

You keep describing the political rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran as "the Iranians", and I think that is a mistake. The Mullahs in power in Iran are not in any way a real representation of the peoples of Iran. They do not represent the peoples of Iran ethnically, ideologically, and especially not by gender. Or perhaps you know of some Kurdish, Azeri, Communist, or female Mullahs that the rest of us don't.

Logic would dictate that it would be a clear violation of Iranian interests to push for Shi'ite on Shi'ite violence.

Logic would dictate that invading Russia with shaky supply lines is a bad plan, but two separate dictators ground their empires into the dust doing so. I think the reasoning for the current violence is a matter of control and much of what we are seeing in Basra is about who is in control of the city that most of Iraq's oil goes through.

Why would an “organised Iraq” want to “beat down” Iran in the first place?

Three letters: EFP. The Explosively Formed Projectile supply is overwhelmingly from Iran, and a lot of other new-manufactured ordnance is coming from there as well. How would people in Chicago react if Mexico supplied mortar rounds that killed fifty kids at a Little League game? That is not going to happen here, but a lot of things like that happened in Iraq.

I know that some of the politicians I talk to in Iraqi Kurdistan are also talking to Islamic Republic operatives. I am treated with courtesy and so are they. This is counter-intuitive in a world of moral absolutes, but that is not the world we live in.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 12:08 PM

Patrick: You keep describing the political rulers of the Islamic Republic of Iran as “the Iranians”, and I think that is a mistake.

Patrick, earlier: Iran is a sore loser, this is their attempt to wring victory from the jaws of defeat...

You see the problem, right?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 1:55 PM

DPU,

Actually, the Iranians as a people have a bit of a vengeance culture. I love the Iranians, but their bedtime stories end with disemboweling far too often for my tastes.

Posted by: Patrick S Lasswell Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 2:18 PM

I pretty much think most of the “news” reports out there know about as much about their subject as they do about Arabic grammar and proper transliteration; hence it doesnt surprise me when they get it wrong

So everyone else is wrong and you're right?

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 7:55 PM

So everyone else is wrong and you're right?

I am so writing this one down so that I can use it the next time someone says the media is wrong, or the state department is wrong, or the UN is wrong.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood Author Profile Page at March 31, 2008 9:12 PM

Patrick,

I find little difference between what the “Mullahs” did and what Saddam Hussein did. Tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Iranians died because of Saddam’s orders to use chemical weapons against troops and civilians. I don’t think anything the “Mullahs” did could trump that. You could argue it equals it, but it most certainly does not trump the use of chemical weapons.

I think you have a thing for the “Mullahs” that almost borders on the obsessive. The “Mullahs” are not the source of evil in the world and should not be viewed that way. They do, indeed, represent a significant portion of the Iranian populace. Certainly not all of it, or even a majority of it, but a good chunk of it. One mistake many Westerners make is to use their personal interactions with Iranians here in the West to try to come up with an accurate picture of Iran or Iranians. The Iranian population in the West is probably LESS representative of Iranian society than the “Mullahs” are. The Iranian community in the West is almost entirely secular and are very out of touch with the Iranian society as a whole. Same goes for Iranian communists, they certainly are not representative of what Iranians want.

You need to get over the “Mullah” thing and start thinking a little bit wider. Once you get past the “Mullah” fetish things will start to open up for you a bit more. As long as you cannot move past the “Mullahs” you will continue to see only things in that tight, warped fashion. The “Mullahs” have over taken the Red Menace and the Yellow Hordes as the enemy of the day. However, I refuse to drink that kool-aid as well.

Again, comparing Iran to Hitler or even Napoleon is just really WAY out there. So I wont even address that, it just doesn’t apply on any front. As to control, the Shi’ites already control Basra. If both groups are under the control of “the Mullahs” then why would they be fighting for control in the first place unless, of course, the “Mullahs” are not in control or one of the factions fighting is NOT pro-Iran. The Mahdi Army is not reflexively pro-Iranian, the Ministry of the Interior troops and Iraqi Army troops fighting them in Basra are reflexively pro-Iranian. We shouldn’t be backing either side in this one, it is militia against militia, and sad to say we are supporting the side that has the well proven and long standing ties to Iran.

In an attempt to want to describe crazy ideas and actions to the situation you are really missing the forest for the trees.

I am very aware of EFPs, of course being that Iraq is a war zone much, if not most, of the weapons are going to come from neighboring countries. Take a look at the weapons seized from the drug cartels in Mexico. Much of it comes from the USA. The idea that a civil war or other conflict could rage in a country and weapons and explosives NOT come from neighboring countries is a bit absurd.

I am sure some of it comes from the Iranians. As a matter of fact, our buddies in the Badr Brigades, on which side we are fighting in these areas, have received a lot of training from the Revolutionary Guards and elements of Hizb’Allah. Yeah, you heard right, we are inviting leaders to the US whose troops have trained with Hizb’Allah and the Revolutionary Guards and our troops are fighting along side with and assisting these same Hizb’Allah trained men. You talk about straight lines in the Middle East, there are some. In this case they lead from Hizb’Allah and the Revolutionary Guard, to the Badr Bridges, their leaders in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, and unfortunately they lead straight to the halls of power here in the USA. That is about a straight of a line as you can get in the Middle East.

Mary,

Now where did I say that? I know you are upset about your conspiracy theories about Muqqie being a sham, and I know that you are upset that you have looked silly ordering sish taouk in Beirut, but you don’t need to start making things up.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at April 1, 2008 7:26 AM

I am so writing this one down so that I can use it the next time someone says the media is wrong, or the state department is wrong, or the UN is wrong.

It was a just a question, I don't see the point of quoting it.

And he was probably right about the Arabic grammar, but that doesn't change the fact that As-Sadr is not the accepted common (English) translation, and is therefore distracting.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at April 1, 2008 9:00 AM

Cut Mary some slack. The fact that as-Sadr is still running around and not some victim of a complicated poisoning scheme has got her flustered.

As to what is "accepted translation" I'd have to disagree with you. Can you point out the association or group that decides what is or isnt accepted? Just because the majority of Western media sources are improperly translating as-Sadr's name doesnt mean it is "accepted".

It is wrong, it is improper, it just ISNT how you say the guy's name in Arabic. If you watched Arabic media you'd be well aware of that.

However, it would seem that the only person here that was distracted by it was you.

However, you'll find lots of people, companies and organisations here in the West recognised "as-Sadr" as the proper way of translating and writing the man's name.

Muhammad Baqir as-Sadr-from Amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/search-handle-url?%5Fencoding=UTF8&search-type=ss&index=books&field-author=Muhammad%20Baqir%20as-Sadr

Muhammad Baqer as-Sadr-From Daniel Pipes, who actually speaks Arabic. BTW, this article was published in the Middle East Quarterly

http://www.danielpipes.org/article/619

At the end of the day if you spoke Arabic you'd not even be arguing about it.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at April 1, 2008 12:34 PM

Just because the majority of Western media sources are improperly translating as-Sadr's name doesnt mean it is “accepted”

Uh huh. We already went over all of this, including the "conspiracy" that proves that people like al Sadr are not working independently (something that is also common knowledge), yet despite significant repetion, you don't seem to have processed the information. It's amazing that you're able to learn languages when you have such difficulty processing new information.

You said:

"I think you have a thing for the “Mullahs” that almost borders on the obsessive. The “Mullahs” are not the source of evil in the world and should not be viewed that way. They do, indeed, represent a significant portion of the Iranian populace. Certainly not all of it, or even a majority of it, but a good chunk of it."

Are you saying that the majority of Iranians are millionaires with motorbike-riding Hezbollah goons serving as their bodyguards?

It's rumble time in Tehran. At dozens of intersections in the capital of Iran thousands of students are protesting on a recent Friday around midnight, as they do nearly every night, chanting pro-democracy slogans and lighting bonfires on street corners. Residents of the surrounding middle-class neighborhoods converge in their cars, honking their horns in raucous support.

Suddenly there's thunder in the air. A gang of 30 motorcyclists, brandishing iron bars and clubs as big as baseball bats, roars through the stalled traffic. They glare at the drivers, yell threats, thump cars. Burly and bearded, the bikers yank two men from their auto and pummel them. Most protesters scatter. Uniformed policemen watch impassively as the thugs beat the last stragglers.

These Hell's Angels are part of the Hezbollah militia, recruited mostly from the countryside. Iran's ruling mullahs roll them out whenever they need to intimidate their opponents. The Islamic Republic is a strange dictatorship. As it moves to repress growing opposition to clerical rule, the regime relies not on soldiers or uniformed police (many of whom sympathize with the protesters) but on the bullies of Hezbollah and the equally thuggish Revolutionary Guards. The powers that be claim to derive legitimacy from Allah but remain on top with gangsterlike methods of intimidation, violence and murder.

Wow, they are living large. Here I thought the country was kind of poor.

And I thought there were a significant number of Iranians who are pro-democracy. I guess all of those thousands of people I've seen on TV are just another mistake made by the Western media.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at April 1, 2008 9:00 PM

Mary,

I guess you do not understand that some people can have opinions that differ. My opinion, and that of many area experts, disagrees with the typical group think out there about as-Sadr, his links and motivations. It doesn’t mean I cannot process new information, it simply means that I do not agree with the new information. Two different ideas: 1. cannot process information 2. refuse to agree with information. Just because you take what you hear as fact, my personal information, education and experience tells me something different. Sorry, but I’ll go with my years of experience in the area, my education and what I know over what some half baked experts are banging on about. It is these same idiots who got us into the war in the first place, now we are supposed to buy what they are saying now? Not me.

I guess you have not met many Iranians have you Mary? They run the whole spectrum of political thought and if anyone thinks that 85% of Iranians are pro-Western reformers they need a total refit. The religious parties and groups in Iran enjoy a fair amount of support. Even a “homar” would know that. I guess you know enough Arabic to get that one right?

Mary, Mary, Mary. I just have to sit here and shake my head at you sometime. You place far too much stock on what you see on TV. This isn’t unusual for someone with little or no personal knowledge of the subject. Anyway, sure there are a lot of pro-reform minded people in Iran, I don’t think I ever said there was not. What I did say, and anyone with experience in the area would agree, that it is a mistake to think that the “Mullahs” do not have a sizeable base of support. They most certainly do.

It is time for you to remove yourself from behind the TV and get some information and facts for yourself. You are starting to sound like a CNN re-run. Besides, if you want to have a balanced view of things I suggest something other than Western outlets and pro-reform Iranian organisations. Of course they will over play events and their support just as the religious groups would over play events and their support.

You seem to be one of those what has formed their opinion and simply looks for information that reinforces that opinion and discards anything that might cause you to question it.

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at April 2, 2008 10:40 AM

What I did say, and anyone with experience in the area would agree, that it is a mistake to think that the “Mullahs” do not have a sizeable base of support. They most certainly do.

What you did say was:

“I think you have a thing for the “Mullahs” that almost borders on the obsessive. The “Mullahs” are not the source of evil in the world and should not be viewed that way. They do, indeed, represent a significant portion of the Iranian populace. Certainly not all of it, or even a majority of it, but a good chunk of it.”

Saying that the Mullahs with their army of Hezbollah goons represent a significant portion of the Iranian populace is like saying that John Gotti represents a significant portion of the Italian-American populace. Yes, they have money and influence, but they get that influence through their skills at graft, extortion, theft and head-bashing.

Besides, if you want to have a balanced view of things I suggest something other than Western outlets and pro-reform Iranian organisations.

Where do you get your balanced view of things? Reuters? Pravda? Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV? Or the Mullahs' propaganda outlet, IRNA TV? They don't even get the weather right..

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at April 3, 2008 9:15 AM

Mary,

It is very clear at this point that you have precious little experience or knowledge about the Middle East. No one who did would make the claim that support amoungst Iranians for the clergy is equal to Italian-American support of the mafia. That is just plain insane, no two ways about it.

I get my balanced view of things from actually have been to many of the places in question, knowing a lot of the people in question, and speaking some of the languages of the area. I have spent years in the area and most certainly keep up with their media and ours and have the education and experience to sort fact from fiction on both sides. That certainly trumps your enlightened knowledge from CNN, FOX, and embarrassing trips to places where you cannot even speak the language.

I know Michael said before you are a liberal, but you certainly have drank the far right kool-aid on Iran, the Middle East and Islam.

What can I do? It seems clear you like the kool-aid you are drinking, keep at it!

Posted by: Marc Author Profile Page at April 4, 2008 6:15 AM

No one who did would make the claim that support amoungst Iranians for the clergy is equal to Italian-American support of the mafia. That is just plain insane, no two ways about it.

The Forbes report that I linked to implied the same thing, by describing the effect that the Mullahs' Hezbollah goons had on the pro-democracy crowd.

Despite all of your self-proclaimed expertise about the area, you offer no counterexamples. Thus, you lose the argument.

That certainly trumps your enlightened knowledge from CNN, FOX, and embarrassing trips to places where you cannot even speak the language.

Once again, bloviations and self-aggrandizing puffery are not an argument. I speak 'the language' that nearly everyone uses over there, English. I even speak French. But I am embarrassed about my complete inability to learn Hebrew. Since Israel is such an important country in the Middle East, I don't think anyone can claim to be an expert on the area unless they're fluent in Hebrew.

I know Michael said before you are a liberal, but you certainly have drank the far right kool-aid on Iran, the Middle East and Islam.

I'm a liberal according to the old definition (pro-equal opportunity, pro-free speech) - a liberal who would agree more with FDR and JFK than with Marx or the Mullahs.

Posted by: maryatexitzero Author Profile Page at April 5, 2008 8:23 AM
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