Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Al-Hayat's reading of the Sadrist withdrawal

Al-Hayat explains the decision by Al-Sadr to have his six ministers resign from Prime Minister Maliki's cabinet as primarily motivated by issues internal to the Sadrist current, concluding its account this way:
This latest move by Al-Sadr adds to the problems of the Maliki government; officials in the movement say this was in response to the persecution of its members, and is a serious attempt to regain reputation in the resistance to the occupation, and to prepare for a role once the foreign forces have withdrawn.
The journalist says this move wasn't a surprise, because those factors--government forces targeting the Sadrist base, and failure of Maliki to demand a withdrawal-schedule from the Americans--have been at work for some time. In connection with the withdrawal-timetable issue, the journalist says there was a memo of understanding signed between Sadr and the Dawa party in early 2006 (when Dawa candidates Jaafari and later Maliki were struggling for support with the SCIRI candidate Adel Abdul Mahdi) that commited Sadr to support the Dawa candidate provided among other things they would demand a withdrawal-schedule. The point being that this issue is a long-standing one.

On the issue of problems with the base, the journalist says this was not simply a question of responding to the fact there have been military attacks on Sadrists. He writes:

One shouldn't try and read this latest move without mentioning profound differences that have emerged within the Sadrist bloc [in Parliament] and the Mahdi army, differences that go back to infiltrations [word could also be read "excesses"], which people close to Al-Sadr say were attempts to distort the reputation of the [Sadrist] current, which was involved in bloody fights with the occupation forces over sectarian killings, and [which go back to] connections between some leaders and certain American-Iraqi parties.
This is not the most crystal-clear expression you could imagine, and possibly the journalist's introductory remark about "not trying to read this without mentioning..." is his way of indicating he knows these are important internal factors, but he isn't sure exactly how all of it fits together. He recalls too that Al-Sadr had earlier expelled from the movement two former leaders for meeting with the Americans, and had recently asked Maliki to suspend the Parliamentary privileges of Sadrist ministers who signed a resolution moving ahead with the Section 140 procedures on Kirkuk.

Finally, the journalist notes that Al-Sadr has permitted Maliki to name non-Sadrist replacements for the six ministers. In the context of his overall account, this serves as another supporting factor for his idea that the motivation for the latest move has more to do with unity and reputation of the Sadrist movement, than with trying to determine a particular macro-political outcome. But he does note that in its effect, this move certainly does add to the problems of the Maliki administration, following as it does the defection of the Fadhila party.


Blogger Eric Martin said...

Interesting take. Thanks for the translations, as always.

7:52 AM  

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