1512 GMT: Economy Watch. Yadollah Javani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards' Political Bureau, has warned of 50-70% inflation within next six months, calling on the Government to fight the price rises.
Entries in Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (4)
Najaf, as the epicenter of Shia Islam, carries significant importance for Iran and its overall campaign to expand its sphere of influence in Iraq and the region. The city is home to many Iranian pilgrims and traders eager to profit spiritually and financially from the city's religious and commercial offerings. There is general awareness and acknowledgment among many Iraqis that Iran's influence, albeit a historic reality, does not always translate into mutual benefit for Najafis. Many also acknowledge that Iran will continue to capitalize on its ties to the city in order to foster greater socio-economic dependencies. The extent of its ability to influence the ways of the Marja'iyyah are more limited, particularly during Sistani's tenure, given the clerical establishment's unrivaled theocratic and geographic prominence when compared to its "sister city" Qom.
What is notable here is the divergence between the analysis of the Saudi and Iranian threats to Iraq and the recommendations for the way forward.
Proposed US action on the Saudis is limited to "keeping up the pressure on Egypt and Saudi Arabia in particular to return their Ambassadors [to Baghdad]" and general invocation to "caution Iraq's Arab neighbors against efforts to inflame Shia-Sunni anxieties through their support for Sunni parties and by Shia-critical media attacks".
In contrast, Tehran retains its special place as Number One Adversary, its presence used to link Iraq with others in the area in an American partnership: "We will need to flesh out ideas for a post-GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] security architecture that includes Iraq more fully, develops ways to contain Iranian regional influence, and shapes the special position Iraq will likely occupy in the Gulf in ways that further our interests and those of our Gulf partners."
Given Friday's headlines that Iraq was on the verge of a government, seven months after national elections, you might have expected a bit of relief today.
It appears that current Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki may retain office after a deal between his State of Law Party and the representatives of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. However, the combination of the Shi'a factions raises a question as to whether Sunnis, who make up 20% of Iraq's population and enjoyed predominance in the Iraqi system until 2003, will be shut out. There is also the possibility of intra-Shi'a tension, with the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq excluded from the proposed Government.
So leading analyst Reidar Visser is more than cautious as well as scathing about what he sees as Washington's flailing, stemming from its long-time animosity towards Moqtada al-Sadr: