Thursday, January 18, 2007

Saudi paper prints speculation on Allawi as head of a military government in Iraq

Asharq al-Awsat this morning summarizes interview comments by four Iraqi politicians all of them predicting the demise of the Maliki government and speculating on or predicting the establishment of an emergency government of national salvation or a military government. However the choice of interviewees is not exactly a representative sampling. The four are: Adnan Pachachi, who is currently a member of Ayad Allawi's group and a supporter of his; Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the Iraqi parliament who is not associated with either of the two big Kurdish pasrties but is a member of the Kurdish parliamentary coalition; a spokesman for the Muslim Scholars Association; and Izzat al-Shabandar, another member of Allawi's group.

All four criticize Maliki for failing to live up to the commitments that were made at the time his government was formed, and for failing to control the Shiite militia, and all four say this disqualifies him from continuing to head the government. All four speculate about the demise of his administration, and none of them talks about succession in parliamentary terms. More particularly:

Pachachi said the new American strategy has to be implemented in collaboration with a competent Iraqi force, which however doesn't exist, and it would require a big effort to restructure them. He suggested replacing the American troops with an international force under the commend of the UN and including Arab forces. He also said that as for the Maliki administration, it should be replaced by an emergency government or a government of national salvation, to be led by "a strong person who is not sectarian," and he said he likes Ayad Allawi for that position.

Othman said: The new American "strategy" isn't a strategy at all, but merely a stop-gap, adding that the Bush administration expects more chaos this year than last, and probably they will have recourse at some point to forming an "emergency national salvation government" or a "military government". Othman added this isn't something that will be doable without big problems and strong opposition. He apparently didn't elaborate, or if he did the journalist left it out.

Izzat al-Shabandar, another member of Allawi's "Iraqi List" parliamentary coalition, agreed that the US will probably consider switching from Malaki to a government of national salvation, and he said the strongest opposition to that will come from the United Iraqi Alliance, "which is not prepared to lose its grip on the government under any circumstances". (Shabandar said Maliki seems to be on the same page with Bush, or at least he has convinced Bush of that, and Maliki should be able to use the support of the US, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to stabilize the situation, but if he can't then the emergency government scenario will kick in).

The journalist also interviewed a spokesman for the Muslim Scholars Association who said Maliki should resign before the people kick him out. But he didn't speculate on whast might follow.

As noted above, this is far from a representative sampling of Iraqi, including as it does two Allawi supporters out of three members of parliament, but it is interesting at least as an expression of one line of thinking. Asharq al-Awsat said to be owned by one of the members of the ruling Saud family, and in any event it is close to the regime. So this apparent cheerleading for Allawi as a potential leader of a "non-sectarian" military government is worth paying attention to.

(Juan Cole says Pachachi "urged that a new government be formed around Nuri al-Maliki", but that is something he inadvertently made up. The reporter wrote: "Pachachi [said he] thinks the alternative to the present situation is 'the formation of an emergency government, or a government of national unity, able to assure security and stability, led by a strong and non-sectarian person, who doesn't believe in sectarian quotas, and I think Dr Ayad Allawi is the right person for the job, because he is a Shiite but would be acceptable to most Shiites and Sunnis and Kurds and non-Muslims in the formation of a government to face the current situation, especially as to security and ending the militias' control of the streets'".)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hasn't Dr. Allawi himself pooh-poohed this line of thinking?

Perhaps he might reconsider if the Saudis and Jordan and the Gulfies kindly offered to put an army behind him, but why should they, when he's not a general to know what to do with it?

8:28 AM  
Blogger badger said...

maybe the job description isn't for a "general with military experience", but more along the lines of "non-sectarian puppet with PR experience and no qualms..."

9:33 AM  
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