Friday, February 09, 2007

Americans said to be supporting moves to "change the political map"

On February 1, Al-Hayat called attention to the formation of subgroups within the main Iraqi parliamentary blocs, their common theme being to give a stronger voice to "independents" within the Sunni and the Shiite blocs respectively, as a first step in trying to overcome the entrenched sectarian party-structure. At that point, the journalist quoted spokesmen for these new sub-groups, within the Shiite UIA and the Sunni Accord Front, on the general undesirability of sectarianism, but there wasn't any indication what alternatives this might lead to.

Today, Al-Hayat returns to this topic, and says the coalescing of "independents" within the big blocs (1) is a movement that has strong support from the Americans; (2) could be an early indication of a "post-Maliki" political structure; and (3) even quotes a member of parliament (admittedly a member of Allawi's group) to the effect Iyad Allawi would be a good candidate for Prime Minister under such a non-sectarian structure, if it could be created.

The journalist introduces the story this way:
The Iraqi parliament is witnessing a broad movement with support from the Americans for the formation of "independent" blocs within the existing coalitions, in search of a meeting of the minds on certain crucial issues.

Politicians stress that this movement enjoys broad support from the American side, because the Americans recognize what a grave obstacle the current sectarian political formations are to finding an appropriate solution to the political and security crises, and also to the attempts to find an exit from the Iraqi quagmire, not to mention the question of preparing the ground for the post-Maliki era.

A spokesman for the independent group within the UIA denied this implies any opposition to existing UIA leadership, but by way of rebutting that, the journalist quotes someone from Allawi's Iraqi List who said there is what he called a "state of rebellion" within the sectarian blocs, and the new subgroups of "independents" represent the start of a movement to set new terms of reference for Iraqi politics that gets away from religious polarization. The Iraqi List person, Osama al-Najifi, told the reporter: "The Americans have a real desire to change the political map, which has been the cause of so many problems..." But he said this is can't be done without a "realistic basis, beginning with the creation of a nationalist bloc within parliament to bring together the moderate individuals", which could then be expanded to as to permit real change, and the creation of what this Iraqi List person called a "moderate government", thus getting away from the pattern of sectarian confrontations...

The Iraqi List person added he thought it possible to posit the name of Iyad Allawi, not least because he enjoys strong support from the Americans.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni) agreed there is a state of rebellion within the main blocs, but he ruled out any change for making major changes in the political map (in the non-sectarian direction) at the present time, given the very broad movement toward formation of sect-based groups, which has taken on characteristics that are going to be very difficult to reverse.


Blogger Helena Cobban said...

I guess my main question is what difference any of this intra-parliamentary juggling-about might make... The MPs get their fat salaries, their security posses etc... but they are unconnected to any actual levers of governance, since virtually no such levers exist in today's Iraq.

I guess that 'politics" in a general, disembodied, and sort of amorphous way will become transformed into a real concern once the question of which Iraqis negotiate over the terms and modalities of the US withdrawal, and how they do it, emerges as a live issue. Till then, it strikes me this stuff is nearly all about shadow-positioning, patronage, and manipulation...

1:14 AM  
Blogger badger said...

And if Christmas doesn't come, and there is to be another, post-Maliki government, also manipulated by the Americans, would you agree the shadow-positioning and so on would have some relevance?

Not as much importance as the shadow-positioning in Washington, admittedly...

2:47 AM  
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