The U.S. has stepped up its involvement in the intra-Shiite militia fighting in southern Iraq in recent days, air bombing several targets. The Bush administration is supporting the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI) and the Badr militia, which are aligned with the Iraqi government, against Muqtada al Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
On Fox News Sunday today, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said the U.S. support was necessary to tame Iranian influence in Iraq:
Now we have a battle with militias who are operating outside the government. … We must win this fight. The militias that we are fighting are backed by Iran. So this is an effort by Iran to destabilize Iraq.
Graham is trying to oversimplify the situation. In reality, the U.S. is helping bolster Iran’s influence by injecting itself into this fight. Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) explained:
The Iranians have close associations with all the Shia communities, not only with Sadr but also Hakim. … The notion that this is fight by American allies against Iranian-inspired elements is not accurate.
Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations noted the ISCI “was essentially created by Iran, and its militia, the Badr Brigade, was trained and equipped by the Revolutionary Guards” — which the Bush administration calls a “terrorist” organization.
Journalist Gareth Porter added the Badr militia is the “most pro-Iranian political-military forces in Iraq.” In fact, ISCI leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim “met with [Iranian Revolutionary Guard] officers to be his guests in December 2006, apparently to discuss military assistance to the Badr Organisation.”
Graham, underscoring his cluelessness about the situation on the ground right now, added that “the Badr brigade is not the problem.” Graham seems to be supporting an effort to fight Iran by supporting Iran.