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PRESIDENT ACKNOWLEDGES FAILURE OF INTELLIGENCE by Tom Pauken Print E-mail
by Tom Pauken    Fri, Dec 16, 2005, 12:30 AM

GW BUSH.jpgAs Iraqis go to the polls to elect a new Parliament, President Bush acknowledged that the U.S. went to war in Iraq based on "wrong" intelligence. The President said: "It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong." But, in a speech delivered at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, President Bush also sought to make the case that the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003 was the right one.

Meanwhile, U.S. ally and the former Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi warned that there was a serious risk that a Shiite theocracy closed aligned to the Mullahs in Iran could wind up in power after the elections.

Two weeks ago, a candidate running for office on Alawi’s secular party ticket was assassinated in broad daylight in the Shia-dominated provincial capital of Omarah. British military officers based in southeastern Iraq have expressed the fear that Saddam Hussein’s once dominant Ba’ath party may be replaced by militant Shiites loyal to Mogtada al-Sadr, a radical Shia cleric who is part of the governing party’s coalition. In an article in the December 15th Financial Times, a British intelligence officer based in that region warns that Islamic radicals associated with Sadr may dominate the government in that region just as much as the Ba’ath party once did. Accordingly to Captain Rupert Gorman, "It’s a creeping disease akin to Ba’athism."

A particularly interesting note in Peter Spiegal’s Financial Times article is that two factions of Shiite militants are beginning to fight one another for control of the region. Spiegel reports that earlier this year a faction known as the "Badr Brigade, the armed group affiliated with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq" engaged in open warfare with militia backed by Sadr. The supporters of Sadr claim that the "Badr Brigade" has close ties to the Mullahs in Iran.

The Shias, Sunnis and Kurds don’t get along with one another. Many of the small minority of Christians already have left for Syria. Now, Shia militia factions are fighting against each other. It makes one wonder if civil war is inevitable in Iraq no matter what we do over the next twelve to eighteen months. It also may be that Iyad Allawi has it right in fearing the emergence of a Shiite theocracy in Iraq.

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