Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Iran wins big in Iraq's elections: "'We knew ever since the beginning [of the Iraq war] that the Americans would become trapped in a quagmire ... Iraq has become a turning point in the history of the Middle East. If the Americans had succeeded in subjugating Iraq, our region would have suffered once again from colonialism, but if Iraq becomes a democratic country that can stand on its own feet, the Americans will face the greatest loss. In such an eventuality, Iran and other regional states will be able to play an important role in world issues since they provide a huge share of the world's energy needs. We see now that the United States has been defeated.'" - former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

"The Shi'ite religious coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), not only held together, but also can be expected to dominate the new 275-member National Assembly for the next four years. More importantly, the "secular" candidates who were believed to enjoy links with the US security agencies would seem to have been routed. Former premier Iyad Allawi's prospects of leading the new government seem virtually nil. And Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Accord suffered a shattering defeat.... With the ascendancy of Muqtada and Mutlak in the fragmented political spectrum, the calls for American troops to leave Iraq can be expected to become more strident."

"Tehran sees that Iraq is now irreversibly on the verge of profound change, and transition is already in the air. The US is increasingly finding that it must come up with a clear plan to withdraw its troops from Iraq. As prominent Lebanese political observer Rami Khouri wrote on Saturday, "Starting the American military retreat from Iraq is important because American troops will continue to be a divisive and destabilizing force, just as the American military presence in Saudi Arabia after the 1991 war was a major provocation leading to Osama bin Laden-type resistance and terror.""

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