Many commentators find faults with Sadr al-Din al-Qubbanji, a leading preacher of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), but whatever the critics may say, the man is certainly in the habit of speaking in a frank and unambiguous language – something that occasionally is in short supply among the Shiite Islamists of Iraq. So too yesterday, when Qubbanji told worshippers in Najaf that a regional conspiracy headed by Saudi Arabia was underway to disrupt the “Shiite–Kurdish” alliance in Iraq, possibly by destroying the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) and replace it with something else. But hang on a second: Was not the “new” UIA meant to transcend this outdated language of sectarianism? Apparently not. Of course, there has been evidence of this for some time, but Qubbanji’s clarification of the essentially ethno-sectarian orientation of the UIA is useful at a time when many other Iraqi political forces are considering how to frame their alliances for the 2010 parliamentary elections.
Also yesterday, another UIA figure, Khalid al-Asadi, reiterated the line-up of the “new” UIA, as had been leaked earlier in the week as well: Daawa, ISCI, Badr, UIA independents, the Jaafari breakaway faction of the Daawa. And, according to a report in the pro-Shiite newspaper Al-Bayyina al-Jadida, Ahmad Chalabi was meeting with Ali Larijani in Tehran to consult on Iraqi affairs.