Speaker 2: Not a white turban?

Speaker 3: Not a white turban no.  He pointed out that the theology that now existed in Iran politically is one that does not recognize borders and that they see it as a [???] being produced there not the state as we would recognize it here and that the arc of Iranian influence then runs right straight through Iraq and that this is the principal threat to the progress that comes out of Iraq.  He advocates politically a secular state saying that Islam does not have anything to do with government.  Governments don’t pray and they don’t do the Haj and therefore they have no business in religion, which is interesting for an Imam and has had a very different kind of point.  Obviously he was very strongly against Chalabi.  He once was in coalition with the Allawi block.

Speaker 2: Right, I was going to say this would be where I would think he would be at this point.

Speaker 3: Yes and he claims that he has about 10% of the national vote for his slate of candidates, which is interesting in terms of where it might stand in a coalition effort later on.  So if that is true and it works out that way and he said it was a dynamic that the poll figures are two sided for Maliki and Allawi.  He felt were changing and that Maliki was gradually eroding and Allawi was gradually taking a larger and larger section of the popular support, but that was still opened to flux.  I wonder how that fits with your impressions of what is happening there now and whether or not what he has to say holds [???] water.

Speaker 2: My reaction is that he probably overstates Iranian influence and the Iranian threat, but none the less the general point they have agreed, they have Iranian influence in Iraq is certainly true.  In part it is because the way that things have developed that economically the trade is East West and not North south meaning the Turks have a very large representation particularly in the Kurdish provinces in the north and because of the way things work and the Iranians have a large commercial trade in the south and they are the largest trading partners.  And on the other hand where I think he is wrong is I think there is such a thing as Iraqi nationalism.  They want to distinguish themselves from Iranians, they want to probably have reasonably good relations with the Iranians, but they want to be quite clear that they are Iraqis and this even applies in the religious sphere where Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani has views not too much unlike the ones that you cited from your friend, probably not as [???] as that, but nonetheless, he wants to separate religion or at least Islam from state functions.  He is a quietist as it is called.  So, overall I would think that people of his view would be one that would be at home [???] with Allawi and others.  So, no I have to see, Allawi didn’t do very well in previous elections so if he does do this well it will be a bit of surprise.

Speaker 3: He would agree with you on the idea of Iraqi national, one other [???] he said that Iraqi themselves see themselves as Arabs [???] this is a heavy distinct line [???] and that they cannot [???] of their Arab heritage that cannot be [???]

Speaker 2: Well the part that I was trying to take from what your friend said is that I think this poses a constraint on Iranian influence in Iraq.