Saturday, September 06, 2008

An interesting hypothesis

Here's how Sabah al-Lami concludes his column in the Iraqi paper Al-Mashriq today*, headed "Dreams and Nightmares: Whither the War on Maliki?" In a nutshell, he accepts the view that America seems to have given up on getting Maliki to agree to some kind of acceptable bilateral agreement, and is considering how to punish him. But if they did that, the result could be the coalescing of all of the nationalist forces--Sadrist, Awakening and everyone--should Maliki be seen to have his back against the wall versus the Americans.
Punishment of Maliki, to the Iraqis' way of feeling, would mean this: Say he now has a 20% popularity rating with Iraqis for "effective leadership in improving the security situation". This would multiply if the America were to go ahead with any "specific measures" to bring down the Maliki government. And that is for a well-known reason, connected directly with his rejection of an agreement that is rejected by the entire Iraqi people if it stipulates the Americans staying for for even one year.

I say very clearly that the Maliki government--and I don't understand why--is behaving in a way that serves the interests of the "war on him", and I am not here supporting the government...; but when I look at the opinions of most of the political analysts [I wish I knew who he was talking about here], I find that the Maliki government does stand accused of that [behaving in a way that serves the interests of the "war on him"]. And if the government wanted to follow through with its "nationalist" struggle against the occupation, then I wager that it will find all Iraqis rallying to its side, and perhaps in the forefront of that the Sadrists, and the militias of the Awakenings.

The other differences are secondary compared to "Iraqi sovereignty". In fact the one stance that would make this government "strong" vis-a-vis the American forces and the American intelligence... is if it were to be strong with the Iraqi people, and with all of the nationalist blocs, and if it were to set out and implement a credible program to make the government truly a government of national unity, and secondly to be effective in the provision of services, and keep away from all foreign influences...not least because of how the Americans harp on the Iranian string.

*For some reason this paper has an unchanging URL indicator, if you know what I mean, so you'll have to click on the "columns" button on the right if it's today; later you'll have to use their archives. Correction: see LB's note in the comments.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can delete this comment

7:57 AM  
Blogger badger said...

thanks. I need to acknowledge all the help I can get. (still mystified why that doesn't come up on my browser when I click on columns...)

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This is web design thing, the newspaper uses javascript to create a raw of articles in one frame.

The solution is: You can use Firefox web browser and add "Developers Tools" plugin, by right clicking with mouse on the frame [in the newspaper example, the frame is "colemns"] an option appears called "This frame" if choose this option then a link to the URL appears where the [colemns] raw is embedded.

Updating the website [and this will be tomorrow] the raw will be updated also and tomorrow article will be show up.


I am not a web designer.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry that is row

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sabah al-Lami's take is certainly interesting. I guess he is a strong nationalist. Do you know how far other columnists are reflecting similar points of view? Is he isolated?

I've been trying to figure out what the US is going to do to get out of their present bind of no agreement signed. The degree to which Lami's point of view is shared, will have its effect on what the US can be expected to do. Or, if, as usual, Iraqi opinion is ignored, what the consequences of action will be.

In my view, the US is in a real bind here. I said to you here back in July that I thought the US would have to go back to the Security Council for an extension of the mandate. I didn't understand at that time that Iraq has to write a letter to the UN asking for an extension. There is absolutely no reason for Maliki to write that letter. Writing that letter has the same consequences for Maliki as signing the SOFA.

A note for your other readers: I am not analysing here why Maliki is not signing the SOFA, merely observing that he is not doing so, and he is not playing chicken.

I have no idea what the US ripost is going to be. No doubt, after the US elections. Assassination or deposition must be among the solutions envisaged. Also killing Sistani. None of those would work, as the problem is wider than that. That is why we need to know whether Lami's view is representative or not.

Personally I think that the US position is finished, and they will have to agree in the end to the Iraqi conditions of final withdrawal by 2011 or something like that. Economy, Afghanistan, Georgia/Russia, attenuate any US threats.

1:22 PM  
Blogger badger said...

LB: got it, thank you!

Alex: I don't know enough about the paper or the person to say, but he describes his analysis of Maliki's actions as based on what the political analysts (and you!) say (namely that M is not compromising with the US at all, and he adds he doesn't know why, and he isn't trying to defend Maliki in this) so that part, at least according to him, is fairly representative. We'll see. But when he speculates what might happen if the US moved to topple Maliki, the way he says it sounds more like his own pesonal view: "I'd wager that..."

1:50 PM  

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