Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Same story, over and over; why not try something different?

1. Perhaps more of the same?

There is of course an alternative to the potential confrontation between the SupremeCouncil/Kurdish coalition on one side and Maliki with his new anti-sectarian allies on the other (the confrontation hypothesis outlined here). The alternative would be decision by Maliki, Hakim and others to in effect reconstitute the Shiite coalition ("United Iraqi Alliance") with new nationalist rhetoric of course, letting all the participating Shiite groups have the advantage of Maliki's coattails in the coming national elections, but at the same time leading to a rehashing of all of the familiar unresolved sectarian/ethnic issues (oil, Kurdish territorial claims, Sunni alienation, and so on and so forth).

This hypothesis of a reconstituted Shiite coalition is raised in an AlJazeera piece called "The debate about reviving the UIA". A member of Hakim's Supreme Council said this is an exaggeration, but he says: "What has happened, is that we had decided before the provincial-council elections to run on an independent list, but after seeing the results we are returning to our coalitions". And there is Sistani. AlJazeera puts it this way: "A source who declined to be identified said the Shiite authority Ali Al-Sistani has told Maliki that it is necessary to preserve the Alliance, and to unite their forces within the provincial councils. And he said Maliki has some new ideas about how to manage and broaden the Alliance, and draw up a program for the future."

A journalist writing in the Kuwaiti paper AlQabas (h/t LB of RoadstoIraq) says Iran also has its thumb on the scale in this matter. He says that on the same day of Sistani's meeting with Allawi:
it was learned that Dr Ali Akbar Wilayati, former Iranian foreign minister and special adviser to the Supreme Guide, was in Najaf for an unofficial meeting at the holy place, at the invitation of the Islamic Council [the Supreme Council]. And during this meeting with the "elite of Qom", Wilayati explained the desire of his country for the preservation of the Shiite "Alliance" bloc, along with the need to develop and expand it to include Sunni and other components.
As for the schemes to bring down the Maliki government in parliament, AlQabas says, Maliki and his allies haven't shown any anxiety about that, being confident that the popularity shown in the recent local elections will being him back stronger than before, no matter what the parliamentary procedure, even assuming any of the adversarial coalitions actually comes into being.


2. Oxen on the water-wheel

I can't tell you much more about Sabah Ali Shahir than that he is an Iraqi writer and intellectual, and obviously from what follows not a politician, not currently anyway. He has an essay in Middle East Online (another h/t to LB of RoadstoIraq, and also for explaining about the oxen, which I on my own could have never deciphered) headed as follows: "Will we soon be seeing a tomb for the political process? The political process is oxen on the water wheel: they start from a point and they return to that same point, without accomplishing what Iraq needs to be accomplished".

It is an interesting addition to what you could call the radical critique of American-imposed sectarianism. The "political process" works like this: As problems arise, they are put to one side and there they accumulate, each one a time-bomb that could go off at any time. And the reason they are put aside is the sectarian structure of the constitution and the laws, which under the guise of protecting particular groups, block the formation of national solutions. He begins like this:
Observers of Iraqi political developments note an acceleration in the collapse of what is called the "political process", not in the heating up of the fighting that some fear could eventually lead to unlimited bloodshed, but rather in the piling up of problematic arrangements that resist solution, each of these generating others, and that continuously. These arrangements are of easy solution by a method that is different from that which has been programmed and imposed--and what programmed and imposed this was the American prescription, and it is the ideal prescription for the fragmentation and destruction of Iraq. So that Iraqi politicians--those who came with the occupation and those who joined up later--have been compelled to go around and circumvent any approach except that which leads--despite the best of intentions--to one result and one only, and that is the destruction of the country and its breakup.
The part I italicized shows he is addressing the July 22 people among others, urging them to recognize the futility of trying to reform a system that is pre-programmed for breakup. I wish I had the time and the energy to do justice to the rest of this essay. In any event, he concludes with a call on those who are not with the sectarian parties to abandon the political process altogether, a strategy that would deprive them of cover and make clear their status as agents of the occupation.


3. "A good opportunity"

Ali Shahir also says the US economic crisis makes this a particularly good time to make this move. He writes:
Make the political process limited to those who came with the occupation. Isolate them. Don't give them cover for their shame. Don't be an Iraqi bridge for those to cross into Iraq who have already come via the American bridge. Expose the political process in all of its weakness and its ridiculous emptiness and its nakedness, and the meaninglessness of its lists. Don't give them the support that comes from your participation, or the moral justification of your accompanying them.

In this way, you will be participants in their inevitable downfall, accompanying the current American and regional and world developments. It is a rare opportunity... the fall of the Zionized American administration and its exit from the stage covered with the shame of defeat and political and moral failure...

The economic crisis is bigger by far than what has been talked about so far, and this will have dramatic results in every part of the world, among them the collapse of the story about American financial power, and consequently its industrial and military power....
And so on.


Anonymous LB said...

I am glad that you understood the Oxen expression.

Please if you need to ask something about anything, I will be very glad to answer or to explain.

11:15 AM  
Blogger badger said...

thanks LB, good to know

3:20 PM  

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