najaf over qum, the subliminal iraq strategy?

Juan Cole has a guest post up today by al-Khoei, that’s pretty interesting in that it’s from the Wikileaks trove, and alludes to something I’ve always wondered about. Way back when, it came up on the old Moon of Alabama blog that buried in David Wurmser’s 1999 book Tyranny’s Ally: America’s Failure to defeat Saddam Hussein there was a passage that outlined a strategy of overthrowing Saddam that would have the duel purpose making Iraq an ally of the U.S. while at the same time destabilizing Iran. The idea was that the “quietist” (or uninvolved in government) clerical regime of Sistani in Najaf Iraq would displace the “activist” (dictating government policy) clerical regime in Iran because by comparison,  the people of Iran would would choose the more liberal Iraqi model. And further, this change of heart would also transfer ultimate clerical authority back to Najaf, which is the more historic seat of religious authority. Over the years I’ve brought this idea up numerous times on many different blogs (it’s been one of my pet peeves) seeing that Wurmser became Dick Cheney’s Middle East advisor prior to the run up to war, and that nothing ever alluded to by the Bush administration ever said anything about  exactly how, when a Shiite majority took power in Iraq, that they could be prevented from sliding completely into the Iranian model of governance – and no, I never got anything close to an answer as to if this might be a subliminal overall strategy the U.S. had embraced but never acknowledged.

Anyhow, heres a part of the al-Khoei piece that leads exactly in this direction:

In one of the leaked memos from the US Embassy in Baghdad, diplomats acknowledge that the 80 year-old Grand Ayatollah Sistani is Iran’s “greatest political roadblock” in Iraq. Sistani, who is living in a rented home in a narrow street in Najaf, is more of a bulwark against Iranian interests in Iraq than the military prowess of the Americans. Why? Simply because he does not believe in the system of governance in Iran that is the theological corner stone of both their constitution and zealous expansionist ideology.

Sistani is mentioned in 2 out of 4 leaked memos from the US embassy in Baghdad and his de facto status in Iraq as the most powerful man in the country will likely make him a recurring feature in the 15,000+ memos on Iraq that are to be gradually leaked to the public.

All I can say is. How Long Has This Been Going On?

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