Realism from Reuel Marc Gerecht
Washington currently has no Shiite “partner” in Iraq. In all probability, it will not find one. Stained by reports of corruption in his interim government, Ayad Allawi may well be finished as a significant political player. And his antireligious, “pro-Sunni” secular disposition doomed him long ago among most Shiites. Though still seen as the brightest politician, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi was annihilated in the parliamentary elections. The current prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, a leader of the Dawa Party, is too politically inept and his party’s alliance with Sadr is likely to grow stronger. (On a grassroots level, Dawa is easily as radical as Sadr’s Mahdi Army.) Which leaves Adil Abd al-Mahdi of Sciri, probably the only major player in Sciri with whom the Americans culturally feel comfortable. (Though sincerely religious, Mahdi is highly Westernized and lay, free of the evasive speech of Shiite clerics.) But Mahdi isn’t Sciri.