One of the strangest things about the neocon Iraq project was how much it seemed to be run for the benefit of Iran. Or perhaps, given the history of the Republican party and Iran (the actions as opposed to rhetoric), not so strange.
Anyway, one symptom of the cognitive dissonance was how, with a straight face, the Bush administration repeatedly courted an organisation called the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), one which made no attempt to hide its allegiance to the Iranian model. At one point there was a name change to make the link a little less glaring, but the name change seems to have been for western media consumption only.
In the photo we see Dick Cheney meeting with the head of SCIRI Sayyed Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim about a year and a half ago. One of several meetings that his Eminence (as Bush called him) was able to get at the very top.
We bring this up because the jostling for position in Iraqi politics has never stopped, and it's still an open question as to whether an Iran-lite model could emerge under SCIRI guidance -- one of the risks that was pointed out from the start with the Iraq intervention. But media reports are now emerging that Hakim is seriously ill in -- where else? -- Tehran. His incapacitation wll further put the cat among the pigeons in Iraq. The Iraq which, strangely, seems to be viewed as a solved problem.
UPDATE: Hakim is dead. The White House sends condolences.