Iran Is Not Stirring the Iraqi Pot

This comes from Juan Cole’s Informed Comment. Contrary to what our leaders in Washington have said repeatedly, the published statistics suggest that Iranian and Syrian jihadists are not the issue in Iraq. The professor also had a piece about it in his Sunday (15 July) post. We generally conclude from this that our leaders continue to be liars.

This wire service compilation done by the Daily Star adds more information on foreign detainees in Iraq. As I read it, in addition to the over 160 suspected foreign fighters held by the US, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior is holding another 560 such foreigners. They had arrested 4 times that number in recent months but appear to have cleared the others. Although they briefly detained some 461 Iranians, they let all of them go. Presumably these were pilgrims to the Shiite shrines who for one reason or another fell under suspicion. The LA Times reported yesterday that nearly half of the detainees in US military custody are Saudis. Not so for the suspected jihadis held by the Iraqis. They have only 9 Saudis. About half of their detainees are Egyptian, and a fifth are Sudanese. The Iraqi security services clearly think their biggest problem is jihadi volunteers from the Nile Valley. But the picture emerging from the two sets of detainees is that the publics of the two main US allies in the Middle East, Saudia and Egypt, are the most likely to fall under suspicion of supporting the insurgency. While suspicion falls on some Iranians, they appear to be cleared quickly and released. The Daily Star writes:

“He reports that among those still being questioned, “11 were Jordanians; 64 Syrians; nine Saudis; two Algerians; six Moroccans; six Yemenis; two Libyans; 57 Palestinians; 284 Egyptians; 113 Sudanese, two Emiratis; three Lebanese and one Somali.”

All these statistics that are coming out completely undermine the discourse in Washington, DC, about the war. The Iranian and Syrian governments are not the problem. Osama Bin Laden is not the problem. Sunni Arabs, mainly Iraqis, objecting to American and Shiite and Kurdish dominance is the problem. The foreign detainees are a miniscule group compared to the 19,000 detainees in Multinational Force prisons.

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