Thursday, November 30, 2006

Al-Hayat confirms the "Sunni wish-list or else" threat

Al-Hayat today (Wednesday November 30) offers the following background to the Amman meetings.

First, it says its reporters in Washington were told by their Bush-administration sources that the patience of the Bush administration in Maliki is starting to wear out, and Bush is going to give Maliki "a final deadline" to improve the security situation in Iraq, and these sources mentioned the following points in particular: Take firm action against the militias, especially the Mahdi army; strengthen the "moderates" for example the Ayatollah Ali Sistani; establish and maintain constructive relations with Sunni groups. These points are very general.

But the Al-Hayat reporter then says sources in the Iraqi delgation to Amman added the following more specific points as part of the Bush demands: Security should be strengthened by including in the Iraqi law-enforcement regime "a large number of officers in of the former [Saddam era] army", and "exclusion of those leaders who are accused of supporting the militias, while at the same time issuing a general amnesty so that the armed groups will be able to participate in the political process, via early elections, and that is a proposal that has [already] been rejected by the Shiites."

There is quite a bit packed into that last sentence attributed to the Iraqi sources. They said: Bush is demanding inclusion of Saddam-era officers in the law-enforcement agencies; a full amnesty for the resistance groups; and early elections, the latter a point already rejected by the Shiites. In other words, it looks like a version of the Sunni-resistance wish-list (minus the commitment for a US withdrawal).

And the paper said its Washington sources added: Patience is wearing out, and this will be the "final deadline", after which Bush will have to consider "other alternatives."

The only major points that are included in the Azzaman version of the "Amman alternative" that aren't included in this Al-Hayat account, are those that would come after the "or else": namely new government of technocrats, rollback of the federalism law and constitutional amendment to secure central control over resources, and a new Security Council resolution to reorganize the occupation forces. Apart from those elements, the two accounts are essentially the same. Accept these demands, or else. As a commenter in the earlier post has pointed out, elements in the Azzaman account relating to the "or else" clause, including the UN part, would be completely unfeasable in the real world. Which is of somewhat limited relevance, when you think about it.

Finally, Al-Hayat, like the other major papers, quotes the remark attributed to Abdulaziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) in his meeting Tuesday evening with Jordanian King Abdullah, to the effect that if there is all-out civil war, "the biggest loser will be our brothers the Sunni population of Iraq". People were surprised. Juan Cole scolds Hakim and says he was supposed to be promoting good relations. But it was only surprising if you overlook the context.

Presumably Hakim was told about the Bush ultimatum including the "or else" clause, and his reponse was a very predictable one.


Blogger markfromireland said...

May God destroy them as one of your regular readers puts it.

12:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see the Washington Post? An article there claims that the WH has decided to fold, and carry on as usual with the Shi'a and Kurds, completely negating what the Arabic-language newspapers have opined recently.

2:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's high time Iraqis set aside their differences and gave the EVIL YANKS a big kick up the back side!!

5:29 AM  
Blogger badger said...

You're right!
(He's referring to a piece by Ignatius and another by Robin Wright, today Friday, all sourced in Washington to the effect they have decided on a muddle-through, no-change approach). Stranger still, even Al-Hayat, which yesterday attributed the Sunni-tilt ultimatum idea to Iraqi sources, today attributes this to American media!)

5:37 AM  
Blogger badger said...

(my above comment is in response to anonymous #1)

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Blogger badger said...

although of course I agree with anonymous #2 also

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