Saturday, December 09, 2006

UIA described as wary of coup-possibilities if a leading candidate is named new Defence Minister

Elaph, citing unnamed Iraqi sources, says a former governor of Al-Anbar province and a tribal leader, Faisal al-Kaoud, is the leading candidate to become Minister of Defence in the cabinet shuffle Prime Minister has promised. This is not necessarily to be taken at face value, but it is interesting as the first specific prediction. The Elaph reporter reminds us that the whole Iraqi-military issue was the top item in the recent Bush-Maliki talks in Amman so naturally this will be closely watched.

Elaph says Faisal al-Kaoud, 60, a Sunni Iraqi, fled Iraq in 1971 after a relative was executed by Saddam for allegedly plotting a coup, and returned to Iraq following the US invasion. Elaph's first comment is that al-Kaoud is accepted by many Iraqi groups, "and by the multinational forces, which he has criticized for their handling of [Iraqi] security, and the criticism included a promise that he [al-Kaoud] would be able to restore security to Anbar province in the space of six months if he were to assume the Ministry of Defence, and if he were permitted weaponry superior or at least equal to what Al-Qaeda has, and what is in the possession of the armed organizations that oppose the political process in Iraq, (meaning the resistance).

Just to make sure you know where Elaph stands, the reporter adds that its sources said al-Kaoud is possessed of a bold personality that isn't sectarian, and that his political group, something called Council of Iraqi Solidarity, is a group that includes Sunnis and Shiites too, adding that al-Kaoud was a founding member of the Anbar Rebirth Council, which gave rise recently to the Anbar Salvation Council. The reporter says the latter group has participated in the killing and arrest of a large number of AlQaeda fighters in Anbar, and controls a lot of territory in Anbar, hoping to eventually control the whole province. The group has the support of the Iraqi government, but as far as weaponry is concerned, this reporter says the following: Sheikh Sattar Bazigh abu-Rashia says the US forces have barred the group from using anything but light weapons in its operations.

Al-Kaoud, who is 60, served as governor of Anbar until summer of 2005 (no information on when or how his term started), and in late 2005 he presented his name as a candidate for presidency of the republic (a post that doesn't necessarily require status as a member of parliament), but this was quixotic. He had also been a candidate for Minister of Defence in the prior Jaafari administration, before this post went to Saadoun Dulaimi.

Getting down to the politics of any eventual appointment, the Elaph reporter says this: People in the governing United Iraqi Alliance would prefer that the Ministry of Defence not go to "someone with ambitions or who has popular or tribal bases of support, fearing later use of this in overthrowing the government". On the other side of the aisle, people in the Iraqi National Accord, the biggest Sunni political coalition, would prefer (this reporter says) someone whose views are closer to their own. In any event, says this reporter, both sides (UIA and INA) want the two ministries of Defence and Interior to be alloted according to the sectarian division.

Finally, the reporter says his sources admitted there are other candidates too for Defence Minister, and they mentioned Wafiq al-Samarae, security adviser to Talabani and a former head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service [I believe under Saddam]; and Mithal Alousi head of something called the Iraqi Nation Party. But the source said al-Kaoud is the most likely of the three.

The reporter says Maliki hasn't yet indicated which ministries will be involved in the changes, and there is still the question whether or not this will continue to be on a sectarian-allocation basis. In terms of timing, the reporter observers expect the changes to be announced after the National Reconciliation meeting, now scheduled for December 17. This meeting, the reporter notes, is expected to include some of the "opponents of the political process that have been invited by government delegations [in meetings with them] in Jordan, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly all three candidates are US stooges. Al-Samarae is a notorious turncoat and a ruthless opportunist, whose home in Samarra has been frequently attacked. Alousi, a maverick native of Falluja, is a rabid anti-Baathist who was expelled from Chalabi's INC after visiting Israel and advocating close relations with that country rather too openly.

4:36 AM  
Blogger badger said...

quite the group. I'm a little weak on some of the background you refer to, so do help us out from time to time...I'm sure there will be a more of this coming out of the woodwork shortly

7:43 AM  

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