The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

An odd cable from Iraq

I liked this passage in a US Embassy Baghdad cable about a meeting with Emad Klanter, an Iraqi Shia close to Sistani:

Son of a respected Najafi Ayatollah, nephew to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, related by marriage to Muqtada al-Sadr, and bearing a faint resemblance to the actor Robert De Niro, Klanter is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad but was not wearing the traditional Shia Sayyid's garb of black turban and cloak during our meeting at the IZ villa of Saad Jabr, a Saddam-era exile opposition financier and son of Iraq's first Shia Prime Minister.

The guy goes on to trash all Iraqi politicians for referring to the Americans as "occupiers," calls Sadrists "backwards" and tries to peddle influence over Sistani. I'm sure he won't like this cable coming out. Another passage is also interesting:

When we informed him that USG patience is wearing thin with the pace of Iraqi political process, Klanter appeared incredulous that the U.S. would even consider scaling-down in Iraq "because you destroyed a regime and now you bear the responsibility to build up a replacement. If you leave there is a 100 percent certainty of civil war, which might happen anyway even if you don't leave." Swinging his arms into an abbreviated "Gator Chomp" type of gesture, he said that if the U.S, leaves "Iran will swallow us whole."

Incidentally, one of the things I'm enjoying about these cables is that the people who write them often write quite well and can be pretty funny. Kudos to American diplomats!

PostsIssandr El AmraniIraq, shia