As of nine months ago. And most aren’t jihadis: if their intel is right, 60,000 of them are ex-military or Saddam fedayeen. I wrote the other day that the Saudis might form an anti-Shiite alliance with AQ if they end up in Iraq and INDC Bill e-mailed to say I was nuts since Osama’s boys consider the Kingdom their archenemy. Maybe. If the proportion is this lopsided, though, they might not need AQ; they could make a deal with the fedayeen and still harness most of the insurgency’s strength.

Like I say, though, this is a Saudi report. Which means it’s not AQ that they’re most concerned about.

Iran has effectively created a Shi’ite “state within a state” in neighboring Iraq, defying both Iraqi Sunnis and neighboring Sunni nations, according to a Saudi security report.

Iranian military forces are providing Shi’ite militias with weapons and training, Iranian charities are pouring funds into schools and hospitals, and Tehran is actively supporting pro-Iranian Iraqi politicians, the report said…

RAND Corp. senior defense analyst Ed O’Connell said the Iranian intelligence was trying to counter Saddam Hussein’s former formidable spy network, Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS), or the Mukhabarat. Under Saddam’s regime, he said, roughly one of every six Iraqi adults was a paid or unpaid informant — a network that did not disappear with the arrival of the U.S.-led coalition.

There’s reason to be skeptical here, starting with the fact that it’s being leaked now to a conservative American newspaper. The Saudis are worried about Bush pulling out and abandoning the country to Iran; this is their way of sounding the alarm among the pro-war crowd and getting them to apply. Interestingly, though, they place the size of al-Sadr’s militia at only 10,000, trailing far behind the 25,000 members of the Badr Organization, the militia of the rival Shiite party, SCIRI. Al-Sadr has something closer to 40,000 fighters today; the fact that they didn’t inflate the number to alarm war supporters further gives the report some credibility.

New Zawahiri tape coming this week, meanwhile. Our topic: “the truths about the clash between Islam and atheism.” Sounds not at all tedious and predictable.

Tags: Islam religion