November 14, 2007

"Persian Influence"

MountainRunner went back and read through the transcript of a Department of Defense blogger round-table and noted the number of times the military spokesman used the phrase "Persian influence" when describing some of the challenges the U.S. faces in Iraq.

Here's Abu Muqawama's question: When a U.S. spokesperson uses the phrase "Persian influence," does he mean Iranian influence? Is he talking about the role Iranians actively play in Iraq? Or is he unconsciously internalizing a phrase Sunni Arabs in Iraq use to describe not just the Iranians but Shia Iraqi Arabs -- who comprise a plurality of Iraq's population but are often not considered by Sunni Arab Iraqis to be real Iraqis? If it's the former, fine. If it's the latter, though, we should be careful about unconsciously adopting the rhetoric of our newfound Sunni allies without stopping to ask just who are these Persians about whom they're speaking? Because according to some Sunnis, the only true Iraqis are Sunni Arab Iraqis. And all those Shia in the south? Well, they can be dismissed as "Persians."