News Release

Where Is Iraq Headed?

AARON GLANTZ
An unembedded journalist and author of the book How America Lost Iraq, Glantz has reported extensively from Iraq since the spring of 2003. He said today: “Muqtada al-Sadr has millions of followers — many more than the Bush-backed government in the Green Zone. … He may be a Shi’ite fundamentalist, but even Sunnis and secular Iraqis respect him for standing up to an unpopular American occupation.”
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RAED JARRAR
Iraq consultant for the American Friends Service Committee, Jarrar said today: “Al-Sadr’s withdrawal from the Iraqi government is seen by many observers as the first step for Iraqi nationalists leaving the Iraqi government. Al-Sadr is first, and other Shia and Sunni nationalists will follow. If this is true, al-Maliki’s government will end up with only separatist Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish leaders. This will dramatically increase the Iraqi-Iraqi violence (like what’s happening in Diwaniya and Basra where Iraqi governmental forces are attacking al-Sadr supporters) and increase the violent resistance against the occupation forces. The Bush administration should stop supporting Iraqi separatist leaders at the expense of everyone else.”
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DAVID ENDERS
Author of the book Baghdad Bulletin, Enders is a freelance correspondent with 18 months of experience in Iraq, focusing especially on America’s Shiite “allies.” He said today: “I interviewed Sadr in 2003, and at that time, the U.S. military’s official line was that he was ‘on drugs.’ A few months later his followers were in widespread revolt. Though the military tends to downplay Sadr less now than they did then, much of what he and his followers do is still transmitted to Americans as though it occurs in a vacuum. The rhetoric he has used in asking the cabinet members to withdraw has been consistent with his rhetoric throughout the last four years. Behind the scenes, Sadr thinks Maliki has double-crossed him and is selling him out to the U.S. via this new security plan. But this is minor.

“Sadr is thinking long-term survival — Maliki won’t last and Sadr knows it, and he’s making a pragmatic move not to be part of the Vichy government anymore. If anything, Sadr’s proven himself a canny and able observer/operator in Iraqi politics. Add to this the increased number of security breaches inside the Green Zone, and it looks more and more like we’re getting on to the fall of Saigon. A U.S.-backed Iraqi government was an unlikely proposition from the start; without Sadr’s approval, it really doesn’t exist. If Sadr feels like he’s running out of options, it’s bad news.”
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VERA BEAUDIN SAEEDPOUR
Available for a limited number of in-depth interviews, Vera Beaudin Saeedpour is editor of Kurdish Life and founder of the Kurdish Library in New York City. She said today: “My research indicates the U.S. wants to divide Iraq, [Senate Foreign Relations Chair] Biden is saying this over the table, Bush has been doing it under the table. This basic plan was hatched under the first Bush administration, it progressed under the Clinton administration and is coming closer to fruition regardless of which party is in power.” Saeedpour noted that Bill Clinton this week said: “The [Iraqi] Kurds need to be protected, and Turkey should be prevented from entering Kurdistan.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167