Sadr City: Credit Where Credit’s Due?

There was some mention in the American press about Iran’s role in brokering the ceasefires in both Basra and more recently in Badr City. This is the first time I’ve actually seen Fars, the official Iranian news agency, brag about it call attention to it. Their analysis of the Iraqi government’s double bind bears citing in full:

The Iraqi government has been forced to balance its allegiances to the US and Iran. Supported by American troops and reconstruction funds, Baghdad is obliged to pay attention to the US demands. But the Iraqi government cannot give in to Washington’s illegitimate demands regarding Iran. Iraqi politicians owe a lot to Tehran, including many who received shelter in Iran during years of exile brought about by Saddam Hussein’s rule. Also, the majority of Iraqis are Shiites, similar to Iran’s population, and many Iranians make religious pilgrimages to the southern Iraqi cities of Karbala and Najaf. Many goods sold in Iraq, from fuel to tomatoes to bricks, come from Iran.

Forget the EFP’s that MNF-I claims forms the basis of Iran’s support to Iraqi insurgents. It’s all about those tomatoes.

Seriously, though, the disadvantage we face in this particular info ops battle is that our role in Iraq is out in the open, so it reinforces Tehran’s anti-American narrative. On the other hand, Iran’s role — in particular, its support for the very same Shiite factions we’re busy propping up — is largely covert. The more it is revealed, the more it serves to undermine Washington’s anti-Iranian narrative.

In other words, in this case the truth works against the American war effort, which is politically dependent on public opinion. So far, the American response has been to emphasize Iran’s support to hostile Iraqi factions (al-Sadr, the Sunni insurgency), while downplaying its influence with our friends. For various reasons, Tehran has been a bit slow (maybe even reluctant) to shine light on its actual involvement in Iraq’s Shiite factional infighting. By the looks of things, that might be changing.