Thursday, December 09, 2004 - Iran and Syria Aiding the Democratic Process in Iraq - Opinion:

Shias are the majority in Iraq and the Sunnis are now trying to impact the elections by blaming Iran and Syria. Better Home Rule than another CIA Puppet State. JBOC

"Iran and Syria fan the flames in Iraq

December 9, 2004
If there were any doubts about the CIA's pessimistic assessment of the situation in Iraq, they may be put to rest by two disturbing new reports about the influence that Iran and Syria are exerting on Iraq's elections and the operations of the insurgency. Unchecked, those conflicting influences could provide the seeds of a civil war, Iraq's nightmare scenario.

Jordanian King Abdullah and Iraq's interim president, Ghazi al-Yawar, both warned earlier this week that Iran is pouring money into Iraq's Shia communities to get out the vote and affect the outcome of the Jan. 30 national elections, with the intent of creating a Shia-dominated Islamic government. Iran's ultimate goal would be to shift the power balance of Shia and Sunni Muslims in the region, with the two largest Persian Gulf nations, both with Shia majorities, ruled by Shia leaders.

At the same time, U.S. military intelligence officials have uncovered evidence in the takeover of Fallujah that the Iraqi Sunni insurgency is directed and funded from Syria to a much greater extent than was suspected. The evidence gathered in Fallujah and other insurgency strongholds in the Sunni Triangle shows that ousted Iraqi Baathist leaders are operating in Syria under the protection of Syria's own Baathist party. From their sanctuary, they are funneling a stream of money to the resistance and are directing or coordinating some of the key insurgency operations against U.S. and Iraqi forces. Abdullah also alluded to Jordanian intelligence reports that foreign jihadists trained in Syria routinely infiltrate Iraq across the Syrian border.

None of this comes as a surprise, except perhaps for the growing intensity of Syrian and Iranian involvement. And perhaps too much can be made of Iran's influence, because Iraq's Shia Arabs have deep cultural and ethnic differences with Iran's Farsi-speaking Shias. Nonetheless, if Iraq's Shias and Sunni Arabs begin to focus their enmities on one another after the election, the specter of an uncontrollable civil war fueled by foreign interests cannot be dismissed lightly. "


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