Thursday, May 22, 2008

The latest chapter in "political reconciliation"--Updated

The Maliki/Bush script at the moment has three parts: Improved security; improved political situation; incipient investment boom; a chicken in every Iraqi pot, vote Republican. Not much attention has been paid to the "political improvements" part of the story, which as far as anyone can tell is limited to the fact that the Iraqi Accord Front (IAF, biggest Sunni parliamentary bloc) have proposed names of their respective party members to re-fill the cabinet positions that the IAF resigned from last August. The more meaningful idea of naming competent people without exclusive reference to their political affiliation, and shrinking and rationalizing the number of cabinet posts, has been scrapped, reflecting the GreenZone clubhouse dynamics. But even at that, there seems to have been an unexplained problem with some of the names.

AlHayat this morning gives us an important clue. There are three main components of the IAF: the Islamic Party headed by Tareq al-Hashemi; the Peoples Assembly headed by Adnan Dulaimi and the National Dialog Council headed by Khalaf al-Alyan (or 'Ulyan). Maliki is said to have rejected the nominees of the latter, the group headed by Alyan.

The quick way to understand the meaning of this, if you have a few moments, is to type "Alyan" into the search-box at the upper left of this page, and you will be reminded of what he has stood for over the past couple of years. For instance:

(1) In October 2006, at startup of the Salvation Council boom, Alyan was against the idea of any of these groups accepting aid from either the US forces or the sectarian GreenZone government, since in his view both AQ and the American occupation were for the breakup of the country. This is from the above-linked post, referring to Abu Risha's plans for an alliance with the US to fight AlQaeda:
But Abu Risha's viewpoint isn't the only one. This Al-Hayat piece also cites remarks by Khalif Alyan, a leader in the Iraqi Accord Front, which is the biggest of the Sunni coalitions in parliament. Alyan's remarks are particularly interesting as an expression of the new Sunni rejection of the Maliki government. Alyan said the followers of his group would object to joining in the Anbar Salvation Council if any of the tribes were to accept Iraqi government support or US support. And he said he was skeptical of the ability to Abu Risha to actually bring the tribes together in the way that he claims to be able to do. Alyan added that the clan leaders in Ramadi and other cities in Anbar that he has spoken to object to the idea of any group "based on Abu Risha". And to drive the point home, he said if the Salvation Council ends up accepting Iraqi government or US government support, the result will be fitna or all-out civil war in Anbar.

On the question of overall strategy, Alyan said the creation of a balanced security force, and a political process "open to all resistance groups" both require the elimination of AlQaeda from the province, and the reason is that the AlQaeda aim of setting up an Emirate ultimately supports the US aim of breaking up the country.
(2) At the time of the political blowup over the start of the wall-building campaign with the Adhamiya wall in April 2007, Alyan's Baghdad home was ransacked by government forces and his security detail arrested, while he was in Amman. The following is from a post here at that time:
Khalaf al-Alyan, one of the three leaders of the Iraqi Accord Front, the biggest bloc in Parliament, was quoted last week from Amman predicting announcement soon of a multi-bloc coalition to oppose Maliki, is quoted this morning in several Iraqi papers as calling on the rest of the IAF leadership to issue a clear warning to Maliki that they will leave the government if the Adhamiya wall policy is continued, but in the current statements, he appears to have dropped the multi-bloc aspect of this, talking only about the IAF itself. (See this summary of Iraqi papers by Aswat al-Iraq).
So no doubt what is going on is the process of sifting the Iraqi Accord Front so as to accept the "reconcilables" while at the same time rejecting the likes of Alyan with their Iraqi-nationalist ideas. It is the same principle that that outlined in the famous Hadley memo and continued through the Sadr City campaign, of sifting the Shiite trends, accepting those that are "reconcilable" and setting up the others targeting by the US military.

To say the least, you could say this is the opposite of a policy of allowing creation of a meaningful two-party system, unless by that you mean one party in power, and the other to be targeted militarily as the "bad guys".

Still, Azzaman this morning says the idea of a GreenZone coalition of non-reconcilables, including Sadrists and Alyan's group along with others, is still under discussion. Unfortunately their website is unavailable this morning, so I can't give you the link or details.


Azzaman is back. The item in question focuses on the refusal of the Iraqi List to rejoin the government, in spite of invitations by Maliki, and the explanation given by their spokesman Osama al-Najaifi, namely that Maliki hasn't been "serious" in his offers in this regard, but also because of the following:
He explained that the Iraqi list is working on discussions and agreements with leaders of the Fadhila party and the Sadrist trend, along with the Dialog Council led by Khalaf al-Alyan, and the Arab Dialog Front of Saleh al-Mutlaq, the aim being a unification of our positions. He said "the results of our discussions with these political blocs encourages us to continue, and what we are trying for is the creation of some kind of parliamentary coordination."
It will be recalled that efforts to form a roughly similar group have been reported from time to time in recent months, culminating in this January 13, 2008 announcement of a so-called "12-party agreement" (including the Sadrists, the Iraqi List, and some Sunni groups including Alyan's and Mutlaq's, with Fadhila first reported in, then out) and that among their common "nationalist" aims were opposition to privatization of the oil sector, and opposition any further Clause 140 procedures as demanded by the Kurds on Kirkuk.

What today's reports seem to indicate is that this idea of a "nationalist"-oriented parliamentary opposition is still alive, in some form. And the fact that one of its proponents, Khalaf al-Alyan, is also a leader in the IAF has been a roadblock (or one of the roadblocks) to an agreement on IAF rejoining the government.


Blogger Kate said...

Just wanted to let you know that your blog is immensely of the most helpful sites in the blogosphere in decoding what is actually going on. You do a tremendous service to English speakers everywhere who work on Iraq issues. THANK YOU! SHUKRAN!!

This post is particularly important, since all we hear from the war cheerleaders is about how the Sunnis joining the government shows that Maliki's offensive has increased support for the guy....incredible. Wonderful to have your insights---keep them coming!

4:06 PM  
Blogger badger said...

thank you, nice to hear...

6:25 PM  

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