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A Neocon Hunt for Al-Sadr?


Interesting item, from Juan Cole’s blog , on former Iraq CPA spokesperson Dan Senor’s role during last spring’s hunt for Muqtada al-Sadr. I have no information on the validity of this theory, but recall much was made of Senor’s background as an intern at AIPAC, the American lobby for Israel. Senor’s bio notes that he also worked for Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, a prominent Arab-American.

There have been persistent reports of Israeli involvment in Iraq, written by Seymour Hersh and others (not just on the ideological affinity for Israel by some of the war’s advocates in the Bush administration, but also the sharing of “best practices”, in interrogation, and counter-insurgency techniques).

On at least one occasion that I can find, Senor publicly backed his boss, L. Paul Bremer, against charges by Richard Perle and others that the CPA was involved in a smear campaign targeting former neocon darling Ahmad Chalabi. Perhaps this proves nothing, since backing Bremer publicly was Senor’s job. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the moment when some of these senior former CPA officials start talking publicly about decision-making at that time.

From Professor Cole:

I have it from a source I consider reliable that the order for the arrest of Muqtada al-Sadr in early April, 2004, which came as such a surprise and threw the country into chaos for two months, came from Dan Senor. Senor is said to have acted on instructions from Neoconservatives in the Pentagon, and to have kept Paul Bremer, his putative boss, out of the loop. Bremer was presented with a fait accompli.

I speculated at the time that the Neocons came after Muqtada because he had objected so loudly to Sharon’s murder of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the clerical leader of the Hamas Party (the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood). Muqtada had highlighted the assassination in his newspaper, al-Hawzah al-Natiqah, which the Coalition Provisional Authority ordered closed. And then Muqtada had promised to be the right hand of Hamas in Iraq, and to open Hamas offices all around the country.

In other words, his position was completely intolerable to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Likud Party, and their American fellow-travelers among the Neocons.

The CPA had been tempted to go after Muqtada on more than one previous occasion, but it appears that cooler heads, like Gen. John Abizaid, had prevailed.

If this story about Senor’s perfidy is correct, it would shed light on a hitherto unknown fissure in the American administration of Iraq. We have long known that it was dominated by Neoconservatives, especially young persons who had applied to be interns at the American Enterprise Institute, which was apparently the recruitment pool. But I hadn’t earlier heard that there may have been a difference of opinion between Bremer and his Neocon employees, many of whom had contacts inside the Pentagon that they could use to make an end-run around Bremer.


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