Thursday, December 04, 2008

A tough situation

Obama called Maliki yesterday on the phone to thank him for seeing the security agreement through parliament and assure him of his commitment to Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity, cooperation against terror and responsible withdrawal. Maliki's office issued a statement on the call, but this was reported only in short items in Aswat alIraq and AP. There doesn't seem to have been any confirmation by Obama's office.

It is a tough situation. Since parliamentary approval on Nov 27 of the security agreement and of the "political reform charter" that went with it, there has been an escalation in the dispute between Maliki and the Barzani/Talabani parties in Kurdistan region, each side accusing the other in increasingly bitter terms of violating the constitution. In Basra yesterday, there was a confrontation between the army and the local Basra security forces outside the municipal offices. In Falluja, journalists are not being allowed in to report on two explosions yesterday that killed six people at a police station and a police checkpoint and wounded a number of others. Aswat alIraq puts it this way:
[A security source] said it was impossible to get a final count of the dead and wounded given the fact that the area is in an uproar because of heavy gunfire from the police. And he added that journalists are being barred from covering the events...
And there was another explosion in the Green Zone yesterday, this one at the GZ entrance. A number of people were hit, but Aswat alIraq has no further details; and the Azzaman version this morning has none either, only this cryptic lead:
The Green Zone suffered the second explosion in the space of a week yesterday, after two mortar shells fell on the headquarters of the UN in that zone [last Saturday], and the US army said both were of Iranian manufacture. The Islamic Army denied any connection with that operation as had been claimed by an internet site connected to an Iranian agency. [As for the attack yesterday] Iraqi police said they think the explosion was the result of a mortar attack. A number of people were hit, but they said they were unable yet to give totals.
There are no further reports on yesterday's GZ attack.

Meanwhile, it appears the suits are going to try and say that the "political reform charter" represents the fruition of "just the kind of linkage between US withdrawal and political accomodation we (!) hoped to see..." (M Lynch)

That's what makes this a tough situation for the suits. The "linkage" that had been demanded by this group was based on the idea that the imminence of true and bona fide US withdrawal would smarten up the Maliki administration, which would then make meaningful political concessions. What happened was the reverse of that. The agreement clearly strengthens Maliki militarily, and the "political reform" points were needed not by Maliki in the face of a supposedly sobering US withdrawal, but rather by the Sunni parties, as cover for selling out their Sunni constituents by agreeing to this.

So the story of "linkage...between US withdrawal and political accomodation" is obviously going to be a difficult one to tell, and we(!) need to ask : Isn't the reality the opposite: linkage between American support for a sectarian military regime and political fragmentation?

Where exactly are we supposed to be seeing this long-awaited move to political accomodation? I for one am not seeing it anywhere.


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