Saturday, March 03, 2007

Accord Front leader links the "new front" scheme to the success or failure of the Baghdad Conference

A member of Ayad Allawi's Iraqi List, Osama al-Najafi, told an Al-Hayat reporter that both Allawi and US ambassador Khalilzad are in Kurdistan for talks with leaders there. Allawi is trying to convince the leaders of the Kurdish coalition in the national parliament to join the "new front" he is forming, since the Kurds have a big weight in parliament and in the current government. And Najafi told the reporter that Khalilzad's presence there indicates the US supports the Allawi plan.

The reporter then recites the contents of the announcement made Friday by a spokesman for Allawi's group, about the political and security collapse and the threat of Allawi's group exiting the government and the current political process. Here's the new part of what he reports:
And Najafi said the question of the Iraqi List staying in the current government is conditional on agreement to its demands, represented by: revision of the political process in its entirety, changing the method of administering the Iraqi state, freezing the constitution, and dissolving parliament. And he stressed that the decision to withdraw [in the event the demands aren't met] has been agreed to my most of the members of the Iraqi List.
The reporter also talked to Adnan Dulaimi, head of the Iraqi Accord Front, the biggest Sunni bloc in parliament, and here's how that went:
And the IAF, through its leader Adnan Dulaimi, said the group supports the creation of a new front to correct the course of the political process via redistribution of official appointments and the security ministries, in the event of failure of the international Baghdad Conference to cure the current situation.
So the Iraqi List appears to be talking about a "new front" that will demand freezing of the constitution and dissolving parliament as part of a "course-correction in the political process", otherwise they will bolt. The IAF leader talks about this "new front" idea as a "redistribution of official positions", and says it is something that should happen in the event that the Baghdad Conference (expected to be held in about a week, on March 10) doesn't solve anything. And the Allawi person, perhaps predictably, says Allawi is being given tacit US support by Khalilzad, in his current attempt to get the two big Kurdish parties to join in this.

Meanwhile, Maliki, for his part, in an AP interview, promises major changes in ministerial appointments and in law-enforcement policy before the Baghdad Conference. AP reports in detail on speculation what this could mean in terms of placating the Bush administration, cracking down on the Sadrists, and so on. By contrast, the Allawi project hasn't been mentioned anywhere in the Western press. It should be the Western media's motto: Exactly half of what you need to know.


Blogger Mike said...

I am surprised to see that this news was not mentioned in the major news outlets.

It seems to me that no matter who the U.S. installs in Iraq, be it Mr. Allawi or anyone else, such an appointment will only last as long as American troops are occupying Iraq, unless the Sunni insurgent groups as well as Iraqi nationalists generally have a major say in determining who rules them.

I keep reading about al-Sadr's Mahdi Army and how it is being targeted on account of the members operating death squads who are being called "rogue" by the Sadr leadership. What I'm wondering is why you barely ever see any mention in the press of al-Hakim's Badr militia. The impression I get is that because al-Hakim is publicly cooperative with the Americans and Shiite/Kurd government, his militia is not being targeted.

Since Sadrists might well be kicked out of Parliament by Maliki, will people who are associated with Badr Brigades / Interior Ministry death squads also be sacked?

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maliki's interview - and what are ultimately vague assertions about a shake up that the AP story tries to flesh out through "unnamed sources" - suggests he is really feeling the heat from the US and Allawi is their wedge. He really finds him in an impossible position.

Notice too how Maliki says something vague about in the next "one to two weeks" which would mean after the regional conference that Allawi/Khalilzad recognize as a break point. That makes a lot more sense now having read Badger's report about the importance Allawi et al attach to this.

The problem ultimately, though, is that trying to sideline the Sadrist current by installing Allawi or forcing Maliki dump the Sadristss would make the Green Zone even more dependent on the US military as well as perhaps a trusted cadre of Iraq troops (not the army/police/interior ministry) as an institution. There really would be a civil war then, with the Sadrist current fighting the Green Zone government. Maliki knows this - thats probably why he'd like to resign, as he said earlier this year. His power depends on to irreoncilable parties - at least in the current configuration.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I mean to say not the army/police/security forces as institutions. But only the parts the US can sufficiently rely on - if a full-on break did occur, I'd imagine a significant part of the army would resign/desert. Not a majority, but a significant part (then again, much of the army is already, lets say, a bit hollow to begin with).

Also, I don't know what Allawi really brings vis-a-vis the insurgency. Although, I imagine he has links to some of the ex-Baathists involved and my be able to entice them to join. But the insurgency has largely become a self-sustaining phenomenon that has detached itself to many of those who were involved in its founding - whether as a Salafist or a Iraqi nationalist phenomenon. Allawi also had his shot at trying to end the insurgency in 2004-5 when he was first PM. And that wasn't all that effective, to say the least - in fact, he alienated a great part of Sunni opinion in the process.

I'd be interested to know to what degree the Sunni politicans are credible in the Sunni parts of Iraq - from the informed sources, I've read, its relatively marginal.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Badger writes: “the Allawi project hasn't been mentioned anywhere in the Western press. It should be the Western media's motto: Exactly half of what you need to know.”

While no defender of Western media, indeed I have stopped using it for a significant source of information since the internet open up so many other possibilities; nevertheless, in this instance there may be more reality (albeit tacitly) in that media then what meets the eye. A large amount of the NY Times, Washington post, etc. deal with, what I would call, the de facto partitioning of Iraq. Perhaps this is the real story. The reality “on the ground”, so to speak, as opposed to the illusions politicians generate.

As the above commenter wrote “I don't know what Allawi really brings vis-a-vis the insurgency…I'd be interested to know to what degree the Sunni politicians are credible in the Sunni parts of Iraq - from the informed sources, I've read, its relatively marginal.”

It seems much of what some bloggers who like to call themselves “reality based community” are idealists who refuse to accept the fact of the civil war and analyize the implications it has for the future. Rather, they see reality as the nuances of what politicians say and do. An example of this varying perception of reality is blogger Prof. Visser who analyzes the minutia of the “Oil Agreement”, yet does not even see a civil war in Iraq. As he wrote recently, "Much of the current violence in Iraq is directed by a tiny group of professional terrorists and criminals, many of them with ties to outside Iraq."

One thing for sure about reality – “time will tell.”

5:36 AM  
Blogger badger said...

A demand, arguably with US support, for "a revision of the political process in its entirety" and a suspension of the constitution, can't be called "one of the illusions that politicians generate".

Visser, who isn't a blogger, didn't write about the minutiae of the oil agreement, his main points were about the politics of the Basra area.

His remarks on the sources of violence were in the context of arguing against the "inevitable partition" idea.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Nell said...

both Allawi and US ambassador Khalilzad are in Kurdistan for talks with leaders there.

And Talabani is still in hospital in Amman? Hmmmmm......

2:00 PM  

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