Religious conservatives are now threatened on two fronts. At home, the majority of Iranians want to take away the veto power the religious leaders have over decisions of the elected government. Next door in Iraq, they watched as a handful of US and British divisions conquered the country in less than three weeks. The Iranian conservatives are also aware of young Iranians joking about how long it would take the coalition forces to defeat the Islamic militias in Iran. The Iranian conservatives are caught in a bind. By their very nature, they want to encourage Iraqi Shias to take over the government and form an Islamic Republic of Iraq. But they know (or most of them know) that the majority of Iraqi Shias do not want an Islamic Republic. But the Iranian Islamic conservatives can support the Iraqi radical Shias to use terrorism and armed resistance to push for an Islamic Republic. If this happens, America will be more inclined to use military force to eliminate the source of the problem in Iran. If it looks like Iranian Islamic support for Iraqi Islamic terrorism is unpopular in Iran (quite likely, given the distaste most Iranians have for their own Islamic Republic), there could be a regime change in Iran as well. Confronting this possibility, some senior Islamic conservatives are proposing the unthinkable (for Iranian Islamic conservatives), reestablishing diplomatic relations with the United States (the "Great Satan.")
April 17, 2003: Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme
Council of the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (SCIRI), who has been exiled to Iran for years, has called for Iraqi Shias to assemble at the holy city of Karbala to oppose the American "occupation." SCIRI has 5-10,000 armed militia (the "Bakr Brigade") stationed in camps on the Iraqi border.