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August 24, 2006


Nur al-Cubicle

Obaid claims that Iran has assisted al-Qaeda in Iraq, including "active help" in transporting fighters from Afghanistan to Iraq

Now that does strike me as preposterous.

Carsten Agger

What do you mean by "North Africa" as opposed to Algeria and Egypt (which both are in North Africa) - Morocco, Tunisia, The Sudan, Mauritania?

Or possibly the northern part of sub-Saharan Africa?


Carsten - he didn't break it down, but I'm pretty sure he meant Morocco and Tunisia, maybe Libya?


[The punchline: "all indicators point to increased likelihood of civil war and the disintegration of the Iraqi state," while "Iranian influence can be expected to increase as American influence wanes."]

A recent Chatham House report says the same sort of thing.. It adds that as the US toppled Saddam and the Taliban, they removed Iran's chief competitors in the region. I'm sure I've read people like Abdel Bari Atwan write that a few times in past months. Also from the report:

"Iran views Iraq as its own backyard and has now superseded the US as the most influential power there; this affords it a key role in Iraq’s future. Iran is also a prominent presence in its other war-torn
neighbour with close social ties, Afghanistan. The Sunni Arab states of Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf are wary of Iran yet feel compelled by its strength to maintain largely cordial relations while Iran
embarrasses their Western-leaning governments through its stance against the US. "

I'm not sure how to tie links into the text (or if I can), but here are a couple for references if you're interested..



"Obaid claims that Iran has assisted al-Qaeda in Iraq, including "active help" in transporting fighters from Afghanistan to Iraq"

...sounds suspiciously familiar...

Donald Rumsfeld - November 2002:
"Within a week, or a month, Saddam could give his WMD to al-Qaeda."

or even:

George W Bush - 17 June 2004:
"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaeda is because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda."
(both: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3816963.stm)


I don't buy that "America didn't keep its side of the bargain" part one bit. When has the US ever demonstrated it has that kind of control over Israel?
Obaid knows that.

John Burgess

Lawrence Wright, in his Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 also suggests that Algerians form the core of insurgent activities in Iraq.

Generally speaking, N. Africa is understood to composed of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya; sometimes Mauritania is included. Egypt is sui generis, even if it happens to be, geographically, in N. Africa. The Arabic dialects of the N. African countries are more similar to each other than they are to any other dialect. Egyptian Arabic is spoken only in Egypt, though it's widely understood because of the Egyptian film and TV industries. But a Lebanese, Egyptian, or Saudi to watch a Tunisian film? They need subtitles...

John Burgess

On the Iranians helping Al-Qaeda in Iraq? I don't have any problem in believing this. To see it as an impossibility is to fail to recognize that there are different flavors of Shi'ism, only one of which is popularly practiced in Iran and run/supported by the government.

That happens to be 'Usuli Shi'ism. While it does have Arab adherents (primarily in Lebanon, but also in the Gulf States), the more indigenous Shi'ism for the Arabs is Akhbari Shi'ism. [Al-Sistani is Akhbari.] Hugely different philosophies behind them though the religious rituals are generally the same.

Akhbaris, for instance, do not recognize a place for a clerisy, a hallmark of Iranian religio-politics. They believe that until the Hidden Imam returns, there is no true religious authority and that one has to be satisfied with doing the best one can. If you screw up, that'll be the subject of discussion between you and God come the day of judgment. In the meantime, you can keep your judgmental opinions to yourself.


Are sub-Saharan Africans involved? I figure that Eritreans, Ethiopians and Somalis must be involved as well.

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