Voices on Iraq: Robert Baer
With so much attention paid to the president, Howard Dean, Dick Cheney, et. al., this one exchange is not earning enough notice. Last night on MSNBC's Hardball, veteran CIA case officer Robert Baer said the following:
MATTHEWS: So we‘ll have—let‘s be clear than that the Shia—are they going to be the dominant force for perpetuity and the Sunnis are cut out of power? Is that what you‘re saying?
BAER: I think, Chris, we are going to see worse problems after the election, because the Shia are going to say we are the legitimate rulers, we are taking the oil, we‘re taking the power and oh, by the way, you Americans, thanks a lot, now leave. And it‘s—you‘re going to have a radical government ...
MATTHEWS: Well, that would be interesting. Do you really believe that the Shia would feel themselves confident enough to hold the place once we leave?
BAER: With Iran‘s backing, why not? Muqtada al-Sadr was put in by Hezbollah. He‘s been told to back off until after the 15th. I think pretty well the best prediction after the 15th, he is going to say all right, thank you very much.
MATTHEWS: I‘ve never heard this before. You believe, Bob Baer, based upon your knowledge, that the government they elect in Iraq and we supervise next Thursday will have enough self confidence to say we can leave?
BAER: I think they will. And I think their plan will be—is to go into Ramadi and Fallujah and take care of business.
MATTHEWS: Do they have the firepower and the toughness to take on Sunnis? Because Sunnis have ran that country for all these years, because it seems to me they‘re tougher than the Shia. Why are the Shia all of a sudden tougher than them?
BAER: Because there is a lot more of them. You know, they are ...
MATTHEWS: They always have been.
BAER: But they‘re going to have arms. That is who we are training now, Chris, are the Shia. The Shia are the guys joining the army.
MATTHEWS: All I know—but do you think those armies look like armies? When you see them on TV they don‘t like armies.
BAER: They don‘t have tanks. But the Iranians, what are the Iranians going to do? The Iranians are obligated to go into Iraq and back up the Shia. I was in Tehran this spring, and all the ayatollahs said the same thing. We are going to go in and we‘re going to back up and we‘re going to teach the Sunnis a lesson.