U.S. troops detained on Friday the eldest son of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, one of Iraq's most powerful Shi'ite leaders, outraging Shi'ite politicians and prompting a swift apology from the U.S. ambassador.
Ammar al-Hakim's convoy was stopped at a border checkpoint in eastern Wasit province as he returned from Iran, Iraqi officials said. The young cleric, who was taken to a nearby U.S. military base, said he was handcuffed and blindfolded.
He was released on Friday evening after being held for most of the day, Iraqi officials said. One official said the soldiers had removed his cleric's black turban, an act Shi'ites would view as deeply insulting.
[..]The incident could strain the previously good relations between Washington and Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), the dominant political party in the Shi'ite-led government.
Washington has courted the elder Hakim in its efforts to stabilize Iraq and create a moderate Shi'ite bulwark against the growing influence of radical anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The elder Hakim held talks with President Bush in Washington in December.
Though officials swear that the younger Hakim was not singled out, this is not the first run-in the Hakims have had with military justice. In January, the military stormed into Hakim's complex and arrested six Iranians, all of whom have since been released.
This is how crazy things are. Watching America linked to this op ed in The Standard that literally recommends a cup of coffee and an aspirin to try to figure out exactly who are our enemies and our allies:
America considers the Shiite-dominated, democratically elected Iraqi government a friend. The anti-democratic insurgency in Iraq is almost completely Sunni and supported by two Sunni-dominated dictatorships in Syria and Saudi Arabia.
US policy is to support the development of democracy in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq. So that should make these states US enemies and Iran, a Shiite-dominated semi-democracy helping the majority Iraqi Shiites fight anti-democratic Sunni insurgents, a US friend, right?
Not according to President George WBush. Dictatorial Syria is an enemy because it allegedly helps Sunni insurgents against the Iraqi government. Clear enough. But Iran is doing the opposite. Doesn't that make Iran the enemy of my enemy, and thus my friend?↓ Story continues below ↓
But Bush considers Shiite-dominated Iran, a friend of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government, an enemy.
Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has long been proclaimed a US ally. But 15 of 19 hijackers who attacked the United States on 9/11 were Saudis. Saudi Sunnis are assisting Iraqi Sunnis in attacking US troops and the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.
So if the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but this is not so for Iran, how can the friend of my enemy who attacks me and my friend be my friend?
But Bush argues Saudi Arabia is.
Dizzy yet? It keeps going....