Monday, February 19, 2007

More on the Allawi plan for a national-security government

This could get confusing because there are two different lines of thinking with respect to a new Iraqi government that would, among other things, be more to the liking of the Bush administration.

The first line of thinking goes back to the famous "Hadley memo" that was leaked ahead of the Bush-Maliki meeting in Amman, and it is based on the idea of an "alternative political base" for Maliki that would include SCIRI and the two big Kurdish parties, along with Tareq al-Hashemi's Islamic Party (Hashemi was the one Sunni leader lucky enough to be invited to the White House following Bush's meeting with Hakim of SCIRI). The meaning behind "alternative political base" is that Maliki would be able to govern without the support of the Sadrists. There have been various announcements about ongoing discussions along these lines.

The second line of thinking is that Ayad Allawi would put together an alternative government ready to take over in the event of failure of the Baghdad security plan. This was broached in the newspaper Al-Bayina al-Jadeeda on the weekend (what I saw was a summary by Aswat al-Iraq, quoting a member of Allawi's parliamentary bloc), and there is a followup today in Al-Hayat, which cites another member of Allawi's parliamentary bloc. Today's Al-Hayat piece goes like this. After stressing the seriousness of the latest market bombing as a breach of the security plan, the reporter writes:
Al-Hayat has learned that US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice welcomed an alternative plan, in the event of failure of the current security operations, that calls for ministerial changes and political and economic remedies and broadening the base of the multinational forces to include Islamic and Arab forces, excluding however [forces] from the neighboring countries.
Then following more detail about the bombing, the journalist writes,
Adnan Dulaimi, leader of the Iraqi Accord Front expressed skepticism about the chances for success [of the Baghdad security plan] given the early leaks of the content of the plan, which permitted militias and those accused of escalating the violence, to flee and prepare for renewed violence later.

And the American administration has tried to listen early to alternatives proposed in case the security plan fails. Ibrahim al-Janabi a spokesman for the [parliamentary bloc] led by Ayad Allawi, told Al-Hayat that the plan [Allawi] proposed recently as an alternative in the event of failure of the security plan "was received with a big welcome" by Rice during a meeting [with Allawi] the day before yesterday in Baghdad.
The Al-Hayat reporter adds a few more very sketchy details of the Allawi plan, including the idea that security matters would be in the hands of a "ministerial council" that would include the director of the intelligence agency, and would rely on non-sectarian expertise. The broader-based multinational force would help establish an Iraqi security force, and would gradually withdraw.

But it appears this Allawi initiative, if you could call it that, is being merged, so to speak, with the "alternative political base" concept (centered on SCIRI and the two big Kurdish parties, along with Hashemi's group) that goes back to the Hadley memo. Apparently an announcement of the results of those discussions was expected soon, but Aswat al-Iraq says it has been decided to postpone any such announcement, lest it be taken as "sending the wrong message" or as lack of support for the current plan. The person making that announcement was--you guessed it--another Allawi spokesman. Aswat al-Iraq says:
The parliamentary blocs seeking the formation of a new coalition with a national agenda away from sectarian affiliation adjourned the announcement of the new alliance in a bid to lend support to Baghdad security plan in place since Wednesday, a legislator said.

"The new security plan needs political support for success and thus the political parties adjourned the announcement of the new formation to avoid any misinterpretation of the move," legislator Safiya al-Suhail, of Iraqi National List, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). She added "all the parties are backing up the government in its effort to render the new security plan (Rule of Law) a success."
After listing the blocs that have been mentioned as part of this new coalition, the Aswat al-Iraq reporter adds at the end of his piece: "And there have been talks aimed at having the Iraqi List [Allawi's group] join this alliance".


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