Welcome to the final Byzantine round of the Machiavellian Iraqi war games in Washington. Making his triumphant appearance today is none other than Abdelaziz Al-Hakim -- the wise one. He’s a veteran player who survived four years of preliminary elimination rounds to qualify for the final phase of what is turning out to be a truly Olympian imperial project.
Behold Hakim’s resplendent clerical robes. You can always spot the players who’ve spent a lifetime training for their roles on history’s stage. No one doubts that this ‘man of the cloth’ will pass the drug screening tests. This late in the game, we can only hope that our designated team captain resists the temptation to drown his Mesopotamian sorrows in a bottle of gin or indulge in a snow-snorting binge.
As far back as the qualifying events -- when this quagmire was still a neo-con fantasy -- Al-Hakim and his team mates were recruited to shower “rice and roses” on coalition forces as they cake walked their way from Basra to Baghdad.
Al Hakim’s resume is truly impressive. He’s an Ayatollah and a son of an Ayatollah. He speaks fluent Farsi -- having spent half his entire life living in exile as an honored guest of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. As a dedicated theocrat -- he allied his sectarian legions of Iraqi exiles with the Iranian army in the Iran-Iraq war. It’s safe to assume that he puts his faith-based political doctrines above his country -- a trait he shares with his host.
To get a measure of the man, you need to see past Hakim’s wardrobe. This guy is more than a religious missionary. He’s certainly no ordinary politician. You can’t even consider him a military man -- although he was the leader of the Badr Brigades -- the military wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Still, he’s so much more than that. The source of his political clout is his control over the Shiite death squads that have infiltrated the American-trained security forces.
And there’s more to recommend this man for the task of getting “the job done.” The death squads under Al Hakim’s command aren’t your run of the mill assassins. They usually leave their signature on their victims before grinding them up. Al Hakim’s dedicated cadres like to drill holes in other people’s skulls before dumping the mutilated cadavers on Baghdad’s streets as a warning to any real or potential adversaries.
It’s not yet clear why Bush invited Mister Death Squad to Washington. But let’s not ‘misunderestimate’ the President. This is the same POTUS who thundered from his bully pulpit that “we cannot turn a blind eye to repression because that repression is not in our backyard.” What he failed to mention was that -- as the need arises -- we would continue to invite vicious torturers and assassins to our front yard for tea in the Rose Garden.
Bush’s media collaborators are already calling Hakim a ‘moderate’ compared to the mercurial Moqtada Al Sadr. Some death squad leaders are apparently more reliable than others.
What makes Hakim so special is that he seems such a mature thug -- the kind of SOB that can be our SOB. The Badr militias have a reputation of being disciplined and heavily indoctrinated foot soldiers that follow the party line. Once they get orders to close down their torture dungeons, Hakim’s loyalists will likely obey his command. Of course, that also means that the torture sessions could only have started with Hakim’s explicit orders.
A few pundits are suggesting that the president is using Hakim’s visit as a way to build bridges to Tehran. Or maybe the administration is sending Al-Maliki a message that he should abandon his alliance with Al Sadr and stick with the scary guy from SCIRI.
You never know what Bush has in mind for ‘Plan Z.’ By the time he figures out a new course of action -- he’ll need another plan.
No one in his right mind is suggesting that exiting Iraq was ever going to be a tidy business. But that doesn’t mean we have to ignore that the man invited to sip tea with the president is holding a common household drill dripping with blood and brain tissue. Hakim keeps trying to wipe it off with his clerical robes to the amusement of the President -- who has no clothes to help out his guest. Snickering in the corner, the assembled media dignitaries mind their manners and pretend not to notice.
Now, drive your imagination to some dark stink hole in Baghdad owned and operated by Al-Hakim’s thugs in the interior ministry. A Baghdad University professor is tied down to a sturdy blood drenched workbench about to get his skull drilled by professionals assigned to SCIRI’s torture squads. Two of his sons share his predicament. In the background, the TV is tuned to CNN. Suddenly, the drills go silent as the emperor with no clothes and the cleric with blood stained robes approach the podium to exchange pleasantries about the wonderful democratic strides taking place in Iraq.
If we could only figure some way to instantly transport Hakim’s den of torture to the president’s front yard. What if the professor was given a few moments at the podium to give his last will and testament? Spin that.
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