Cablegate Chronicles: Iran's 'Gator Chomp'

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A Shia cleric comments on the U.S. presence in Iraq.

FROM: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: JANUARY 31, 2008
CLASSIFICATION: CONFIDENTIAL
SEE FULL CABLE

"Our Brains Are In Our Eyes" ----------------------------

¶2. (C) Son of a respected Najafi Ayatollah, nephew to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, related by marriage to Muqtada al-Sadr, and bearing a faint resemblance to the actor Robert De Niro, Klanter is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad but was not wearing the traditional Shia Sayyid's garb of black turban and cloak during our meeting at the IZ villa of Saad Jabr, a Saddam-era exile opposition financier and son of Iraq's first Shia Prime Minister. Claiming he had recently met with Prime Minister Maliki, Klanter bemoaned the ineffectuality of Iraq's political leaders and warned that the gap between these leaders and the Iraqi people is growing wider by the day. He stated that while Maliki might be able to entice Iraqiyyah and Tawafuq to rejoin his government, neither ISCI nor the Kurds want anything beyond superficial changes to the status quo. When we informed him that USG patience is wearing thin with the pace of Iraqi political process, Klanter appeared incredulous that the U.S. would even consider scaling-down in Iraq "because you destroyed a regime and now you bear the responsibility to build up a replacement. If you leave there is a 100 percent certainty of civil war, which might happen anyway even if you don't leave." Swinging his arms into an abbreviated "Gator Chomp" type of gesture, he said that if the U.S, leaves "Iran will swallow us whole."

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