05/19/2004: Meanwhile, in Iran....
Given our post earlier about inactive reserve callups and the possible necessity for the draft, the last thing we need is to have the shit start hitting the fan in Iran (actually, having the shit hit the fan anywhere in the world isn't good, given how stretched to breaking the Army is in Iraq, but Iran is probably one of the worst places to have it start hitting).
Well, it appears that, while the shit may not have hit the fan yet, someone is starting to toss turds towards the spinning blades. This from Juan Cole: Thousands March against US, UK in Iran. Quoth the good Professor:
The other shoe has now dropped. The BBC is reporting that several thousand angry protesters came out on Wednesday in Tehran to denounce the continued US military operations in the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. (Iran is a largely Shiite country of some 70 million, and many Shiites go on pilgrimage to those shrines and treasure them as sacred). The demonstration got out of hand when one group of protesters broke off and headed for the UK embassy, hurling "petrol bombs" at its grounds. No one was hurt.I suppose that the good news will be that if the Iranians get involved, then at least when Dubya tells us that the violence in Iraq is the result of foreign fighters, he won't be lying. Depending on the situation, he might be exaggerating a bit, but he won't be lying.
Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran of 1979, there has been a strong tradition of vigilanteism in radical Iranian Shiism. I can only think that if they become sufficiently enraged, substantial numbers of Revolutionary Guards, Basij and other semi-irregular fighters will begin slipping across the border into Iraq to hit US-associated soft targets. Although some observers have attempted to make the case that this phenomenon is already common, I haven't seen good evidence for it on any kind of scale so far. The Sadrist movement of Muqtada al-Sadr is homegrown ghetto kids. But, it was always a possibility that Iranians would become radicalized by US encroachments on Shiite holy sites. The Iran-Iraq border is very long and rugged and would be impossible to police (even Saddam could not do it). Iranian vigilantes could also help smuggle in arms and explosives.
My advice to the White House is to get US troops and tanks out of Karbala tout de suite and stop bombing it aerially. Otherwise, the quagmire is going to spread to Iran and become 3 times bigger. An extra 4,000 troops stolen from the Korea division isn't going to be sufficient to deal with that.
That isn't the way I want to see Bush become an honest man, though.
Len on 05.19.04 @ 08:14 PM CST