Sunday, October 22, 2006

"America dictating the Iraqi partition scheme"

Al-Quds al-Arabi prints a selection of recent gems from the Iraqi press, as usual picking papers that mostly aren't themselves available on the web, leading off with an article in the weekly Al-Shahid al-Mustaqbal (independent, publishing since summer 2003, I believe), bearing the title: "Open Bidding for Import of new Rulers for the Democratic Iraq". Actually the bidding hasn't started yet, but this is the threat the journalist says Condoleeza Rice brought with her on her recent visit to the Green Zone.

By way of background, the journalist notes there have been many governments in Iraq in the last three years, the original Governing Council of Lords (Bremer and his group), then the two "provisional" governments, the first (Allawi) with a strong reputation for skimming and corruption, and the second (Jaafari) with an "international reputation for the disregard of human rights, violating the honor of Iraqi men and Iraqi women, with the identity and the nationality of [here Al-Quds inserts three dots]." Bush, faced with the need to boost his sagging approval ratings, and "raise the level of his terrorist occupation administration of Iraq", decided to send Rice to meet in the Green Zone with people called "the business coalition", apparently meaning the Malaki group, and told them that they had a probationary two-month period, after which if the performance wasn't satisfactory, there would a call for bids from the "rulers in the anterooms of the Bush administration", for creation and import of a government that would provide security and basic services. Criteria would include low-cost and low-maintenance. And it was made clear that the candidates would include persons from the same factions as those who came to Iraq with the advancing tanks, but they would be personally unknown, either to Iraqis or to Arabs in general.

Al-Quds doesn't give a date for the article, but clearly it was published before the NYT announcement--I beg your pardon, the "leak"--in its edition of Sunday October 22 to the effect the US is working out details of just such a threat. Nicer language though.

Another item in the Al-Quds selection for this week is an editorial in the newspaper of the Muslim Scholars Association, (Sunni), Al-Basa'ir, about the recent vote on the bill respecting procedures for federalism. The editorialist says this isn't just a case of feeling our way, of the free play of domestic politics. On the contrary this is "literally the application of the American wishes", for a division into sect- and race-based regions. It was already their policy in the Bremer era. And the extraordinary efforts that went into passage of the bill [in the famous disputed vote of October 11] appears to have been the result of specific instructions from Rice during her visit of Oct 7. The idea is to first partition Iraq, and then to partition the rest of the region, to produce what they are calling the "New" or the "Greater" Middle East.

Naturally acceptance of the idea of partition has a lot to do with the Iraqi negativity and pessimism respecting not only the security situation but the occupation-controlled political situation as well. But there is another factor the editorialist notes in closing, and it is from the American point of view. In their search for an exit strategy from the "quagmire" of Iraq, the idea of partition is something that meets the American need for "anything that could be called with American logic a victory in this preemptive war that America originally launched with the conviction it would be restoring national security".


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