Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Surrender to the Shias

It is probably a good bet that when we went in to war one of the war aims, over or under the table, was not to create another Shia dominated state. However if true, British pressure for an early election in Iraq will create precisely that.

What will an early election achieve? Without credible intermediary levels of local government it is likely to mean that the Shias will manage to leverage their absolute majority of numbers to just about total domination of non-Kurdish Iraq. Of course the internal Shia divisions may overcome any desire for beating the hell out of the Sunnis and Christians, or the minorities may form a coherant alliance (but as this means that the Kurds and Sunni Arabs both have to regard the Shias as a bigger threat than each other this is less than likely).

A Shia dominated Iraq should also prove a shot in the arm for the conservatives in Iran who can start talking about Shia solidarity and Islamic revolution again rather than admitting to the fact that they haven't run Iran's domestic economy that well.

No wonder the Shias want an election sooner rather than later. No chance for Sunni or Christian institutions to emerge and no valid electoral roll will mean that they could sweep the board.

But why would we want an early election? Quite simply we realise that the Shias were quiet because we were doing a lot of their work for them in crushing the Sunni insurrection and now that is more or less under control they are no longer happy. Shia unrest will be impossible to control, especially for the British who are overstretched and police an overwhelmingly Shia area.

So I'm glad that this is happening. Sunni or Shia control of the Shatt-al-Arab does not matter for our national interest, although the oil importing Americans may demure (especially with the Shia population in the oil producing regions of Saudi Arabia). However not having our troops exposed to a widespread Shia insurgency is most definately in our national interest.


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