Silvestre Reyes, Pelosi’s pick to be the Chairman of the U.S. Congress’ House Intelligence Committee, didn’t have a clue. This post from The Source illustrates the problem:

In the second half of a 40 minute taped interview, Reyes was given a cupcake question, “Al-Qaeda is what – Sunni or Shia.” Reyes quickly responded, “Al-Qaeda, they have both.” Well yes, there may be elements of both somewhere in the global ranks of Al-Qaeda, Mr. Chairman, but we’re speaking in majorities. “You’re talking about predominately? Predominantly – probably Shi’ite.” As the journalist, Congressional Quarterly Editor Jeff Stein, remarked in a subsequent column, “He couldn’t have been more wrong. Al-Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shi’ite showed up at an Al-Qaeda club house, they’d slice his head off and use it for a soccer ball.”

Not deterred by his ridiculous response, Stein ventured one more query. Perhaps Reyes would redeem himself and smack this softball right out of the park. After being asked about Hezbollah, the world-renowned Middle-Eastern Terror Network, Reyes responded, “Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah…” After laughing and dismissing the question, Reyes quipped, “Why do you ask me these questions at 5 O’Clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?”

Maybe Reyes should learn Arabic and Farsi instead.

By contrast I found this Muslim’s explication of the Sunni/Shi’ite Schism a valuable history lesson. I’ve extracted a few nuggets that show how differently a Muslim sees the situation in Iraq in particular and the Middle East in general:

Here is that narrative: Iran and Saudi Arabia are setting up a power struggle that is going to encompass the heart of the Muslim world; a smaller version of the cold war; with satellite states; and lots of covert, decentralized mercenary usage. In fact, there is some evidence that this struggle has already started. However, this is not just a geo-political struggle. It is colored by almost 1400 hundreds years of inter-Islamic strife. It is colored by brutal massacres. It is colored by theology. It is colored by religious authority. In other words, the battle between Saudi and Iran is not a battle between two random countries. It represents the longest-standing and most violent face-off within Islam. If people thought that Protestant versus Catholic was bad; appreciate the fact that the Islamic face-off was around for almost 900 years before a Protestant even existed.

And the worst thing about this coming battle is that the United States has absolutely no idea that 1) it is coming, 2) or what to do about it.

What is relevant today is what Shi’a masses and Sunnis masses are taught.

Sunnis masses are taught that shortly after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, a man who was formerly a Jew (and was probably not really a convert at all), helped to stoke the flames that created the Shi’a/Sunni division in Islam. This means that immediately a Sunni equates a Shi’a with a Jew, and that means that today, a Sunni can immediately equate Shi’a with a global Zionist conspiracy. It is why I found this fatwa by a Saudi cleric important enough to link to. This fatwa perpetuates this already long-standing propaganda.

Shi’a masses are taught that Ali, the cousin of the Prophet Muhammad to whom Shi’a are connected, was inappropriately denied the Caliphate, not once, but on three separate times, and that the worst offender in the usurpation was the third Caliph, Usman, who only cared about nepotism and consolidating power for his family (which is actually kind of true). Thus, Shi’a immediately dislike anyone that comes from Usman’s stock — and that, my friends, has been a huge problem because numerous Muslim leaders since that time have been from Umayyad stock.

The Shi’a — by way of today’s Iran — have attempted to neutralize the lie that is perpetuated against them (i.e. they are a Jewish conspiracy), by going after Israel. If they kill Jews, and free Jerusalem, surely no one will think they are a Jewish conspiracy. It is why Hizbollah exists. Not to free the Palestinians. It is a PR campaign by the Iranians. It works.

How exactly did Wahhabism spread to Chechnya, Bosnia, Indonesia, the US and elsewhere? Very simply: a mosque got founded, people argued as to who should lead it, the reply was: anyone trained by the Saudis. Why? Because Muslims just assume that if you studied in the shade of Mecca or Medina you are more religious than anyone else. It is this psychological power which transforms into actual power that gives Saudi Arabia its big time status in the Muslim world (and the oil money is just a tool that it uses to rely on this psychological power). For the longest time Saudi Arabia — relying on this psychological power — spread its tentacles. It went into the Soviet-Afghan war. It went into Europe. It went into anywhere there were Muslims.

On the other hand, we should note, as Powerline does, that Shi’ite Iran gave sanctuary to top Al Qaeda operatives fleeing Afghanistan, and that Iran has been caught red-handed assisting both Shi’ites and (Sunni) Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Here’s my take. The simmering war between Shi’ite and Sunni is heating up with the Iranians on one side and the Saudis on the other. Al Qaeda is ostensibly Sunni but it has directed its fire against the Infidels and the Sunni hierarchy in Saudi Arabia. That makes them natural, if temporary, allies of the Iranians. Our problem in Iraq is that some of the Shi’ites have allied themselves with the Iranians instead of the US. They need to be told that that is a bad deal. Step 1. Arrest Al Sadr on that long outstanding murder rap, the one where Al Sadr’s followers killed a leading Shi’ite cleric. If the Mahdi army doesn’t like it, send in the Marines with very liberal rules of engagement. Step 2. Destroy the Iranian nuclear program.

Update: My wife suggested I link to Krauthammer on the cost/benefit analysis of taking out Iran’s nuke capability.