Tuesday, November 14, 2006

New York Post: Most Iraqis knew little or nothing about America in 2003 when the U.S.-led Coalition forces entered Baghdad. Since then, most have learned at least one thing about the United States: Like a fickle monarch, it could wake up one morning and reverse whatever it was committed to a day before. This may be a naive, even unfair, perception of America. But it is the one around which most players in Iraqi politics have built their strategies.

The Shiites, grateful though they are to America for having helped them win power for the first time, feel obliged to have a insurance policy for when (not if) the Americans cut and run. This is why all prominent Iraqi Shiite politicians have been to Tehran. That insurance, however, comes at a price. Iran's rulers insist that the new Iraq turn a blind eye to the activities of Shiite militias, created and armed by Tehran with Hezbollah support. And, because they are unsure of American steadfastness, the Shiites are pressing for a federal structure that would give them 90 percent of Iraq's oil regardless of what happens next. That, together with the increased activities of Shiite death squads, enrages the Arab Sunnis.