About this blog...

I am a former leader of a Human Terrain Team in Iraq. My intent with this blog was to identify relevant, open-source materials on Iraqi culture, society, politics, religion and economics - just about anything on or about the Iraqi population in general.

I am continuing the blog now only sporadically, as a means of information distribution in support of efforts to improve a vital program hamstrung by failures in execution.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Scary, Sicko or Sick: What's in a name?

The International Crisis Group recently released a great backgrounder on SCIRI. If nothing else, it's helpful for finally putting to rest the group's preferred acronym since they dropped "Revolution" from their old name -- the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. (Apparently, we took care of that small matter for them.) You see, if you look in English language press since then, no one can decide if it's now SCII or ISCI or SICI or SIIC.* Originally, the group released a statement in May clarifying the English name as the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC). Somebody didn't like that, though, so they amended it later:

The new name in Arabic was Al-Majlis al-‘Aala al-Islami al-Iraqi, the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council. Confusion in the media over the name’s translation – should it be SICI or SIIC in English? – led to an official announcement at the end of July that the English name would henceforth be 'The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq', 'ISCI'."

There's a lot more to the report than the name change, though. After an introduction to the group's history, and its role in the Iran-Iraq war, the report details at length ISCI's recent relationship with both the US and Iran, and the potential future for both of those relationships. Even here though, the name change offers fair insight into the group's complex and evolving relationships with Iraq's two biggest foreign... um... "partners":

"The name change was made to suggest SCIRI’s transformation from an exile-based rebel group associated with the Islamic Revolution in Iran to a responsible party of government in Iraq...
This clarification [of the official "ISCI" acronym] appears to have been made at the urging of SCIRI’s backers in the Bush administration, who were concerned about the possible negative connotation of the words 'siic' and 'sici', which are close to the English 'sick' and 'sicko'..."

And no, I'm not making that last sick/sicko bit up. (Al Kamen can even vouch for it.) Never thought I'd say this, but if "sick and sicko" are the extent of our forethought these days, then the steady hand of Karl Rove at the helm of the spin machine is sorely missed...

A closer look at the group is valuable though, as they continue to play a pivotal role in the future of Iraq. In October, ISCI made a much-remarked and widely heralded agreement with its erstwhile rival, the Jaysh al Mehdi, led by Moqtada al Sadr. However, numerous reports and analysts have suggested that the truce is just a political show, and that conflicts between the two groups continue unabated.

*For what it's worth, here's a google scorecard for the terms:

Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council SIIC


Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq SICI


Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq ISCI


Supreme Council for Islamic Iraq SCII


Obviously, somebody (quite a few somebodies) didn't get ISCI's memo. Whatta bunch of sickos.


RT said...

The Shi'ite 'truce' and its depth (or lack thereof) just don't get enough play in the mainstream media over here. This reeks of a marriage of convenience, but I'm sure that steadfast and battle-tested Iraqi central government will take advantage of the situation :)

galah3 said...

Daughters of the American Revolution

wonder what they should change their name to be politically correct

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