McClatchy: Most powerful man in Iraq is ... leader of Iran's Quds Force

I mentioned this in the update to the McCain/flip-flop post this morning but it’s too important, and too gripping a read, to bury there. Most of its currency at Memeorandum was from lefty blogs pushing it as evidence that Bush’s neocon rodeo has birthed a new Iranian client state in the heart of the Middle East — an eminently fair point, but rather highly nuanced even by nutroots standards in light of the left’s usual insistence that Iran’s influence inside the country has been overstated to justify another round of adventurism. Read the piece. If anything, it’s been understated.

According to Iraqi and American officials, Suleimani has ensured the elections of pro-Iranian politicians, met frequently with senior Iraqi leaders and backed Shiite elements in the Iraqi security forces that are accused of torturing and killing minority Sunni Muslims…

Iraqi and U.S. officials told McClatchy that Suleimani also has … [t]rained and directed Shiite Muslim militias and given them cash and arms, including mortars and rockets fired at the U.S. Embassy and explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs, the sophisticated roadside bombs that have caused hundreds of U.S. and Iraqi casualties…

U.S. intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because intelligence information is classified, said that Suleimani’s Quds Force has provided arms to Taliban insurgents fighting U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan and has supported Islamist militant groups such as Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which are Sunni, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which is Shiite…

U.S. military officials also charge that Suleimani has brought in Hezbollah fighters to train Iraqi Shiite cells, which the Americans call “special groups,” that specialize in attacking American forces.

The Taliban and Hamas are, of course, Sunni jihadists, whom the left assures us Iran would never collaborate with no matter what crazy John McCain might tell you. Any more to the story than this? Not much, except for the time Suleimani snuck into the Green Zone in 2006 to help negotiate Maliki’s ascent to the premiership. (McClatchy’s source for that tidbit: Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi.) Oh, and the fact that, according to multiple sources, Jalal Talabani traveled to the Iranian border last month to ask Suleimani in person to have Sadr make the Mahdi Army stand down. Quote:

Suleimani “immediately sent messages” and “the fighting stopped the next day,” said the Iraqi official, who also requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the meeting.

Two other senior Iraqi officials confirmed the meeting; Talabani couldn’t be reached for comment.

Healthy skepticism towards possible sectarian motives by unnamed Iraqi sources is always warranted but there are multiple unnamed U.S. sources cited in the piece that corroborate the fact of Suleimani’s influence as well. File it away now, for eventual citation when the Democrats revert to their normal posture of claiming Iran’s just the latest Republican Zionist patsy pretext for war. As for the allegation that Hezbollah is training Shiite militias, it’s old news to Hot Air readers but a nice segue for this clip of CBS’s interview with reporter Richard Butler, who was held hostage for two months in Basra. Click the image and fast forward to 5:45 in to hear his own eyewitness account (or just read this if you can’t be bothered). Were his captors Hezbollah admirers, trainees, or the real deal?