Sunday, May 27, 2007

Perspective: Iraq's Sadrists follow Hezbollah's path

The success of Iran's policy in Lebanon, where the Islamic Republic exerts extensive influence through its local ally Hezbollah, has raised the question of whether Iran can repeat the same experience in war-torn Iraq.

If the Islamic Republic is seeking to create a Hezbollah-style ally in Iraq, its best partner would be the Sadrist movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr. But re-creating the Hezbollah experience in Iraq is a daunting task that is likely to take many years to bear fruit. The ill-disciplined and fragmented Sadr movement is worlds apart from the iron-clad discipline and sophistication of Lebanon's Hezbollah. And Muqtada is no Hassan Nasrallah.

But despite these challenges, the Sadr movement can be used by Iran to consolidate its influence in a steadily fragmenting Iraq and to manage hostilities with the United States. The Islamic Republic excels at developing and using non-state actors in unstable countries, and war-torn Iraq provides Iran with plenty of motivation to mobilize its unique skills and resources for this purpose.

Read the rest at Asia Times