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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The launch into madness

(AP Photo/Nabil Al Jurani)
Oh, boys, they want to bring back the Baathists

Bury my heart in the Green Zone
By Pepe Escobar

Kurdish warlord-turned-politician Talabani may have been US-protected during the days of Saddam Hussein, but quite a few players in the White House and Pentagon axis will have their reasons to regard the summit in Tehran as a pure "axis of evil". As for the helpless Maliki, there's not much for Bush to lecture him about; his days in power may be numbered. According to various and persistent reports, including from Western and Arab networks, a coup d'etat may be in the works in Baghdad: the US in the Green Zone may have enlisted four of Saddam's Sunni Arab generals with the mission of toppling the Shi'ite-majority Maliki government to install a regime of "national salvation". It would then restructure the Shi'ite-dominated ministries of Defense and Interior and finish off Shi'ite militias such as the Badr Organization of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Mehdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr.

Call it the return of the Ba'athists - minus Saddam. Even before rumors of a coup began circulation, one could see the so-called diplomatic strategists of Baker's ISG coming up with the idea of trying to co-opt the resistance into entering a coalition government.

But that does not mean the plan will work. The US might invest in an Asian-style face-saving operation spun by heavy public relations by getting involved in direct negotiations with the Sunni Arab resistance. But only a Saddam-style dictator is capable of assuring a strong, stable central government in Baghdad in charge of security for everyone, with no discrimination. That would mean alienating the Shi'ite religious parties and their paramilitary factions to the limit.

A web of myth continues to be spun by much of the world's press, according to which Iran, as an overpowering entity, uses the US occupation to crush the Sunni Arab resistance while manipulating Shi'ite militias. This is a two-pronged fallacy. The Pentagon's finest in Iraq are not crushing anything - on the contrary. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has all but installed an Islamic emirate in al-Anbar province, while the Mehdi Army reigns in Kufa, south of Baghdad, and in Sadr City in Baghdad itself.

The 10,000-strong Badr Organization - affiliated with SCIRI - may have been trained by the Revolutionary Guards in Iran, but it does not take any orders from Tehran. As for Muqtada's 7,000-strong Mehdi Army, it is split into at least three different factions (two of them don't even respond to Muqtada anymore). But all of them are opposed to Iranian interference.

..................... Maliki cannot order any kind of crackdown either on the Badr or the Mehdi Army factions. According to the Islamic Party - which has the majority of parliamentarians under the Sunni Concord Front - the police and the army are totally infiltrated by Shi'ite militias. The Sadrists for their part denounce the US "return of the Ba'athists" strategy - and defend the Mehdi Army as patriots who protect Shi'ites from the takfiris (Sunni radicals).

The Maliki government won't go down quietly, though, if judged by its current diplomatic frenzy. The US for its part will accomplish absolutely nothing by trying to take down Muqtada and the Mehdi Army, or even the Badr Organization. If the Pentagon somehow decided to go on an all-out offensive, it would be very easy for SCIRI/Badr - or for Mehdi Army commandos - completely to cut off the US supply route from Kuwait to Baghdad.

What the Shi'ite Islamic parties in power and Tehran agree on is a crucial point: the Sunni Arab resistance must be vanquished. But Muqtada's position is more nuanced: as a true Iraqi nationalist, he does not rule out agreements with Sunni Arabs with the supreme objective of kicking the occupiers out. Meanwhile, the US military will keep being caught in a deadly trap - between the sprawling, underground Sunni Arab resistance and the Shi'ite militias' non-stop rampage.

The fall of the Green Zone
Everyone is guilty in the ongoing Iraq tragedy. The US-trained new Iraqi army is infiltrated by militias, by death squads and even by al-Qaeda in Iraq. The SCIRI, Da'wa and the Kurds are only worried about their own interests, not the interests of Iraq as a nation. And the US - always hiding under the dubious mantra of "Iraqi democracy" - totally evades its responsibility in provoking the appalling chaos in the first place.

Militia hell will remain impervious to any summit. Shi'ite clerical leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani may call for restraint. But Sistani does not control the Shi'ite proletarian masses anymore, Muqtada does. The Americans - attacked at least 180 times a day, every day - will keep "controlling" only one piece of real estate in the whole of Mesopotamia (although an extremely valuable one): the Green Zone
The next big step for the Sunni Arab resistance - according to sheikhs of the powerful Shammar Sunni tribe - would be to take out the Badr Organization, holed up in the Ministry of the Interior, and the two most murderous factions of the Mehdi Army. That would mean an Iraqi nationalist purge of the hated "Iranians". And that implies an all-out attack on the Green Zone.

The return of the Ba'athists and the fall of the Green Zone: now that's a prime-time double bill to knock 'em dead.
Oh, and Maliki is planning his own pogrom

Iraqi premier wants more control over his military
By Alexandra Zavis and Peter Wallsten, Times Staff Writers
November 29, 2006

BAGHDAD — Prime Minister Nouri Maliki will push for the U.S. military to relinquish control over his nation's security forces when he meets President Bush today to discuss a strategy to quell raging violence in Iraq, aides and political insiders said Tuesday.

Frustrated by U.S. accusations that he isn't doing enough, Maliki says his hands are tied as long as he does not have the authority to deploy forces as he sees fit. He wants Bush to accelerate the training of the army and police, fund more recruits and provide them with bigger and better weapons, lawmakers briefed by Maliki said.

The prime minister also will insist at the two-day summit in Jordan that his government should drive negotiations with Iraq's neighbors, Iran and Syria, they said.

Maliki's emboldened stand comes at a time of uncertainty for U.S. strategy in Iraq. Bush is under pressure to make changes after Democrats swept the midterm congressional election on a wave of unhappiness about the war's results.

I wouldn't considered the Mahdi Army to have a fixed number. I think if Sadr needs 70K bodies, he can get them.

But let's not forget, the US let the Shia die for stability in 1991. The Sunnis might get into the Green Zone, but the Army and police will come to evict them. With an enraged Sadr City behind them. A Baathist government cannot rule, cannot survive. Maliki may be unpopular, but the threat of a Sunni government is so great that the Shia would have to take to the streets armed to protect themselves.

One of the flaws of the Sunnis is that they believe that they are 40 percent of the population. If the US lets them try Diem II, they may find out the hard way they aren't.

posted by Steve @ 7:33:00 AM

7:33:00 AM

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