Getting in their last licks ?
An AlHayat journalist pays a lot of attention to this reported remark in the WaPo by a Bush administration official on the timing of Israeli attack on Gaza:
One senior Bush administration official said he thinks the Israelis acted in Gaza "because they want it to be over before the next administration comes in." Although Bush has largely been supportive of almost any Israeli action taken in the name of self-defense, the official pointed out: "They can't predict how the next administration will handle it. And this is not the way they want to start with the new administration."It was buried in the middle of a story on page 20 on Sunday, without any particular attention being paid to it. But for the AlHayat journalist, this ties in with the recent remarks coming from the Obama camp which are all in the direction of trying to reassure the Israelis of continuing support. The Obama camp's remarks make little sense on the surface--why outrage his domestic base and cheer on the perpetrator of this slaughter--but they do make sense if they thought there was a need to calm Israeli nerves in the face of possible "change they can, if not exactly 'believe' in", at least fear.
If you were doing a forensic examination of Obama initial foreign policy moves, there is one piece of evidence that really it would be the utmost incompetence to overlook, and it is the reports (now plural) by AlQuds alArabi op-ed columnist Haroun Mohammed of what a number of prominent but non-government and non-resistance Iraqis have told him twice now about a series of discussions with emissaries of the Obama camp. The first report was on p.19 on Thursday November 6 on meetings that were held before the signing of the security agreement; and second was Sunday December 28, on meetings that have been held more recently, after the signing of the security agreement.
The main point of both reports is the same, namely that the Obama people let it be known that the incoming administration will be open to the idea of what you could call a reset of the entire political process, on the admission that the sectarian allocation system has been responsible in large part for the violence and other abuses during the period of the occupation, and the system cannot be fixed or patched up. There was talk about the dissolution of the US-administration alliances with the Islamist parties, and the quest for new alliances with non-partisan Sunnis and Shiites alike. In the earlier report there was even a reference to alleged talks about the incompetence of the Iraqi military, and the need to set up an entirely new military organization. In the more recent report, the approach seems to have been a little more tentative, the idea being that while there is this need for a new start, there is also concern about a coup, and the emissaries were in effect asking their interlocutors--described as leading non-government, non-resistance figures in the academic, economic, military and social spheres--to please come up with some ideas, so that this can be an Iraqi project, and not an American one.
HM's first column on this was headed "Iraq: Dissolution of the alliances with the Islamist and Kurdish parties". The second: "Obama's options, between theory and implementation".
I don't think it is outside the realm of possibility that the recent affair of the Iraqi Interior Ministry arrests was at least in part a preemptive move by the Maliki administration to remove from power any officers thought to be less than Maliki-loyalists, in the face of this prospect of American support for some kind of a reset of the whole political process under the Obama administration. Or by the same token that the Israeli attack on Gaza represents at least in part a similarly-motivated move by another dubious and militarist regime feeling its Washington support-system likewise possibly at risk. And wanting to shore up its position militarily.
Not realizing, as AbdulBari Atwan points out this morning, that the air attacks, and the coming ground incursion, represent, on the contrary, a political and strategic gift to Arabists and resistance groups everywhere, ending, he predicts, the divisive charade of an illusory truce and a corrupt "peace-process." Livni was right, says Atwan, to say that these operations will produce "change on the ground," only not the kind she and her colleagues had in mind.
Marc Lynch, stifling, we may imagine, a yawn, says "We've seen all this before," suggesting the Arab outrage will die down again as it has in the past. He also says--for what it is worth--that he has no idea who the Obama emisarries are that are mentioned in the two HM columns, or "what to make of the discussions he claims they had." The latest two emissaries, HM says, were both Democratic party activists, one of them a former Senator, and the other leading expert at one of the think-tanks associated with the Democratic Party.