Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news
Premium Advertiser

News Blog Sponsors

News Links

BBC World Service
The Guardian
Washington Post
Iraq Order of Battle
NY Times
LA Times
ABC News

Blogs We Like

Daily Kos
Digby's Blog
Operation Yellow Elephant
Iraq Casualty Count
Media Matters
Talking Points
Defense Tech
Intel Dump
Soldiers for the Truth
Margaret Cho
Juan Cole
Just a Bump in the Beltway
Baghdad Burning
Howard Stern
Michael Moore
James Wolcott
Cooking for Engineers
There is No Crisis
Whiskey Bar
Rude Pundit
Crooks and Liars
Amazin' Avenue
DC Media Girl
The Server Logs

Blogger Credits

Powered by Blogger

Archives by
Publication Date
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
Comments Credits
Comments by YACCS
Monday, April 24, 2006

About that new Iraqi government

The Boss of Bosses

Swopa has this nice breakdown of our new Iraqi allies

Iraqi politicians come and go, but the Baathist wedge remains

Juan Cole this morning, in his close reading of the Arabic-language press, may have caught the most revealing tidbit about the United Iraqi Alliance's naming of Jawad al-Maliki as the new prospective prime minister:

Informed sources in Baghdad told al-Zaman that the decision was taken quickly in an atmosphere of American pressure, as part of a deal among Abdul Aziz al-Hakim (head of the UIA), Jalal Talabani of the Kurdistan Alliance and Tariq al-Hashimi of the Iraqi Islamic Party.

Among their goals was to deny a prominent role in the new government to Iyad Allawi (ex-Baathist leader of the Iraqi National List) and Salih Mutlak (Sunni ex-Baathist and leader of the National Dialogue Council).

Sure enough, neither Allawi nor Mutlak's factions were represented in the group of top officials and deputies named today, and Agence France Presse has their reaction:

Sunni MP Salah Mutlak, whose coalition holds 11 parliament seats, criticised the proceedings. "This is not a team for national unity, this is a sectarian arrangement," he warned.

. . . Former premier Iyad Allawi's secular Iraqi National List of 25 seats were among those who did not vote for any post.

But what of the religious Sunni parties, their erstwhile partners (along with the Kurds) in the anti-Shiite coalition?

"We welcome the choice of Mr Maliki and believe that we can now form a national unity government in Iraq which will be non-sectarian," said Zhafer al-Ani, spokesman of the National Concord Front, the main bloc representing Iraq's Sunni Arab former elite.

Ooooops, looks like somebody got cut in on the deal, and some other folks didn't.

A result like this is not entirely a surprise; the religious Sunnis were always seen as the most likely third faction to join the Shiite and Kurdish parties in a governing coalition. The point is that the exclusion of the Baathist-friendly parties would prove the failure of the overall U.S. political strategy, which was to force Allawi into a prominent role in the new government.

But wait -- didn't the U.S. scheme implemented by ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad succeed in forcing out Jaafari? Well, yes, but that's all it accomplished, as the Los Angeles Times explained this morning:

In terms of ideology and personal history, Maliki and Jafari appear to be carbon copies. Both men are in their 50s and hail from the Shiite shrine city of Karbala. Both were idealistic and devout Shiite opponents of Iraq's Sunni Arab rulers and the Baath Party. They became underground members of the Islamic Dawa Party. Both fled into exile in Iran after Hussein came to power.

. . . Jafari, a physician and theologian, agreed to step down only after he was confronted with intense domestic and international pressure. Among several preconditions, he demanded that his successor be a member of the Dawa Party.

"Jafari's agreement wasn't without a price," said the aide to one high-level Shiite legislator. "Otherwise the floor might have been opened and another candidate might have been chosen."

. . . After a U.S.-backed raid last month on a Shiite house of worship allegedly used to torture and hold kidnapping victims in northern Baghdad, Maliki condemned the U.S. and called for an investigation. In an interview with The Times in February, he accused those who opposed Jafari of acting as dupes for Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador.

Keep that in mind as you read the feigned gloating from Dubya, Khalilzad, Condoliezza Rice, et al. about political progress and the coming "government of national unity."

The real proof either way, though, will come in the next stage of the obstacle course, as the LA Times story also notes:

Relieved U.S. and Iraqi officials, exhausted after weeks of negotiations over the government, hailed Maliki's expected elevation as a significant breakthrough, even though fractious discussions over the leadership of the security services remained.

"A major step has been taken with regard to the formation of a government of national unity, which already has a program agreement on a process for decision-making and new institutions," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said in an interview. "It's a significant step … in the right direction, but there will be difficult days ahead."

What Zalmay is referring to is a complicated oversight mechanism intended to give all parties a voice in running the army and police, rather than just the ruling Shiite alliance. (Diluting Team Shiite's control of the defense and interior ministries has been the central goal of the U.S. in the post-election jockeying.) It's not clear yet, though, whether this so-called security council will actually have decision-making authority or be powerless merely advisory -- the latter being the Shiites' preference, and perhaps how they'll interpret the "program agreement" regardless of its actual language.

A true unity government would give the Allawi and Mutlak factions an opportunity to partially re-Baathify the Iraqi security institutions, opposition to which I've repeatedly proclaimed as the defining wedge that kept Allawi out of the previous government... so I suppose I'd have to eat my Swopadamus hat if that happened. Based on the developments of the past few days, though, I may not have much to worry about.

Team US is on crack if they think the Wolf Brigade won't continue to kill Sunni. I wonder if CENTCOM has a loyalty chart of the Iraqi Army. I wonder how many battalions the Madhi Army owns. They certainly own most of the police of the South.

The Iraqis are not stupid. They will let the Americans serve their delusions as long as it serves them. Allawi is lucky to be among the living, a situtation the guerrillas may solve sooner rather than later.

posted by Steve @ 2:31:00 PM

2:31:00 PM

The News Blog home page


Editorial Staff

Add to My AOL

Support The News Blog

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More
News Blog Food Blog
Visit the News Blog Food Blog
The News Blog Shops
Operation Yellow Elephant
Enlist, Young Republicans