Monday, January 04, 2016

Long memories

Wall Street Journal editorial "Who lost the Saudis?" --

Nouri al-Maliki, the Iranian ally and former Prime Minister of Iraq, put regime change on the table by saying the execution [of Sheikh Nimr] “will topple the Saudi regime as the crime of executing the martyr al-Sadr did to Saddam” Hussein. He was referring to the death of another prominent Shiite cleric in Iraq in 1980.

That "martyr al-Sadr" would be Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, the father-in-law of Moqtada al-Sadr. This would thus be another example of the memory loss that has occurred with Moqtada al-Sadr being the designated "bad guy" during various periods of Iraq's post-2003 strife. Saddam murdered part of his family when he was young. He's not going to meet foreign policy elite standards of good behaviour, as Maliki would confirm from his own dust-ups with Moqtada. Anyway, the WSJ sees such quotes as part of an emerging threat of regime change to a US ally. But as the al-Sadr example shows, it's a risk with unpredictable slow-burning consequences that was taken by the Saudis themselves.

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