Salah Obeidi, a spokesman for the Sadr trend, said the successive name-changes for coming bilateral security agreement are the result of US pressure.
It was downgraded from a "treaty" to an "agreement" because an "agreement" wouldn't be subject to the American Congress, and then when the American negotiator saw a problem with the (Iraqi) parliament, it was changed to a "memorandum of understanding" so that the matter wouldn't require the agreement of the Iraqi parliament.
And another Sadrist spokesman, Nasar al-Rubaie, warned in a press conference following a session of parliament that the proposed agreement will not end the occupation, only change its form:
[Obeidi said] the agreement is the termination of a direct occupation into an occupation of a different form, namely that of a "mandate."
He said there are contradictory descriptions of the agreement from the government, adding that if it is going to be considered as a "protocol" then it won't be presented to Parliament. The report of his remarks, and those of Obeidi (on a Sadrist site
and Aswat alIraq) don't include further details. Awni Qalamji, a regular op-ed contributor to AlQuds alArabi and a resistance supporter
, writes this morning in greater detail about the misleading nature of these attempts to dress up the Maliki administration as the savior of Iraq.
In a single blow, without prior warning, Maliki has been converted into his opposite. Having been the prime mover in the continuation of the American forces in Iraq, all of a sudden he is demanding their evacuation or a withdrawal schedule...Not only the White House and the Pentagon have had their part in the shabby drama marketing the new-form Maliki the national hero via warnings and threats of removing him from power. The American media have also gotten into the game with all that they possess of art and propaganda and star-creation.
He refers to the recent WaPo/GreenZone report about a Maliki-Bush agreement via teleconference to the effect that had decided to postpone the long-term security issue until after the elections, meanwhile US forces activities were being cut back, converted to advisory, and so on and so forth. Says Qalamji:
All that was left for the newspaper to say was that the awaited Imam Mahdi (peace be upon him) had returned in the form of Maliki to do battle with the devil in the form of Bush and fill the earth with equity and justice, as it had been filled before with tyranny and oppression.
There follows a remark that I would like to recommend particularly to the attention of the netroots people. Qalamji writes:
There is no person who finds it difficult to identify the double aim in all of this play-acting: On the one side, it is to convince the Iraqi people of the nationalism of Maliki in the hope that they will accept the treaty once he signs it in the future; and on the other side, it is to convince the American people of Bush's seriousness respecting withdrawal, in order to prevent Obama from using this [issue of withdrawal against his opponent McCain].
I don't think he has the American politics quite right: the Spiegel incident showed Washington intent on toning down Maliki's position back to the stand-pat or "conditions-based" position of Bush, nothing really to do with Bush. But that isn't the point. The point is that there are two audiences for this shabby drama, and the main audience, the Iraqis, are supposed to take from this that Maliki is potentially a national hero for standing up to Bush (while for the secondary audience, the Americans, they are trying to tone this down for them as much as possible).
So when Kevin Drum that that "this is nuts" [referring to the Spiegel remarks, the "walk-back", now the walk-back of the walk-back], and Juan says yesterday that Dabbagh is probably a plant working against Maliki, but today Dabbagh is rehabilitated and generally cited as proving that in fact Maliki likes the Obama plan--all this shows is that people are missing the point.
Yo netroots: Naturally you want Obama to win the US presidential election, as every sensible person does, and so there is a focus on any point that is in his favor. The Spiegel interview remarks were that, and so were the Dabbagh remarks yesterday (to the effect that yes, in fact, Maliki does like the Obama plan). Which is fine as far as it goes. But here's the problem: In the course of establishing and buttressing a pro-Obama point in the election campaign (a good thing in itself), you have done so in a way that very seriously distorts what is actually happening in Iraq, namely the marketing of Maliki as an Iraqi nationalist, something he is not.
It isn't just that this helps give the American people a distorted picture of what is happening in Iraq in theory, more particularly it means that the American people are being softened up to accept the conversion of one form of occupation into another more indirect occupation, on the basis that in any event this is a process that is being controlled by a bona fide Iraqi nationalist leader, a ludicrous idea you are helping to legitimize.
You don't have to accept everything that is said on this score by the Sadrists or the supporters of the resistance (which you don't seem to read anyway, even when I try to help make it accessible). All you have to do is remember the mega-bases under construction in the country, and what is meant by the "withdrawal of combat