Full of Shiite

Michael Ledeen flips arguments:

It’s hard to imagine the MSM getting stupider, but there they go again…a raft of articles today on the “pro-Iranian Shi’ite list” in the Iraqi elections. It’s totally wrong. The Iranians dread the Iraqi Shiites, because the Iraqis, from Sistani to Chalabi to Hakim and on down, all oppose the Iranian heresy of the “Supreme Leader,” a cleric at the top of the state. The traditional Shiite view is that such an event can only take place when the “12th Imam” returns from his disappearance–more than a millennium ago–to claim rightful leadership of the entire Muslim world.

Until then, people in turbans should stay in the mosques, and the state should be governed by non-clerics. Sistani, Chalabi, and Hakim all said they were opposed to clerics in the government. Chalabi said–loudly and publicly, IN TEHRAN–that he and all the members of his list were opposed to the creation of an Iranian-style Islamic Republic in Iraq, and Chalabi also said, publicly on television, sitting next to the Iranian Ambassador to Baghdad, that Iraqi freedom was due to the brave leadership of George W. Bush.

Despite their tricky recent statements endorsing the Iraqi elections, the mullahs know that the Iraqi democratic revolution is a mortal threat to them, and to their heretical version of Shiism. They are now quaking in Tehran, not–as the “expert” commentators and reporters would have us believe–drooling over new-found control over Iraq. If Najaf reestablishes its traditional role as the center of Shiism, the Iranian mullahs will be even further discredited. And that will be quite an achievement for a group that is already fully despised by its own people.

Ledeen sounds like the people who were swearing up and down that there was no connection whatsoever between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They were entirely correct, but that was irrelevant. Ledeen may well be correct that the Iraqi Shiites about to come into power are not bosom buddies with their Iranian counterparts, but a failure to see eye to eye is not the same thing as a guarantee that there will be no future cooperation. Ledeen’s position is ironic, since prior to the invasion, he and his neocon ilk were arguing that despite the huge differences between the Islamic terrorists and the secular Ba’athists, the two had managed to find common cause against the United States.

The idea that a majority Muslim government is going to quietly accept a Western-style separation of church and state borders on ludicrous, especially when the leading cleric involved, Sistani, has already declared that the new Iraqi constitution must be based on sharia. It hasn’t happened in Turkey, it hasn’t happened in Algeria or in Indonesia, it has only been grudgingly accepted thanks to the repeated intervention of those nations’ militaries. And it’s interesting how Ledeen asserts that while Iranian Shiites are making tricky statements, declarations by Iraqi Shiites must be taken at their word.