Friday, April 27, 2007

Iraqi positions on the Democrats' "withdrawal" initiative

An Al-Hayat reporter prepared a round-up of comments by people from some of the main political groups in Iraq, on the Democrats' passage of the bill that would tie war-funding to the announcement of a schedule for withdrawal. (This assumes "withdrawal" means what it says. Critiquing that is another question entirely).

What this comes down to is that spokesmen for the Maliki administration, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and the main Kurdish coalition in parliament, all think the bill is a bad idea, and mostly for the same reason: Namely, that US "withdrawal" should be tied to the ability of the Iraqi forces to take over all security responsibilities, and should not be scheduled independently of that. In various ways, these groups all warn about chaos if that factor is ignored.

On the other side of the question is the Sadrist spokesman:
Nasr al-Saadi, deputy for the Sadrist block, said: "The occupation forces are the root cause of all of the security and political problems from which the country is suffering. ...The American administration controls the decisions of the Iraqi government, and consequently the latter lacks autonomy and desicion-making power. Once the occupation withdraws from the country, the government will be able to extend its control over the Iraqi scene".

[The Sadrist representative added] "Some have the impression that the American administration is incapable of shutting down the sources of terrorism and rooting it out, and what this leads to is the attrition of all the economic, material and human resources of the country. We support that [withdrawal-timetable] bill completely, and its implementation at the earliest possible time".

And the journalist notes the Sadrists aren't the only group supporting the withdrawal idea.
The issue of American withdrawal from Iraq is a core demand of the main armed resistance groups, which have made [withdrawal] a condition to their entering into any negotiations with the American forces that would involve disarming and entering in to the political process.
So those are the two poles of the argument: Maliki-SCIRI-Kurds against withdrawal because the Iraqi forces aren't ready, with the Sadrists and the main resistance groups in favor of withdrawal which they see, from their different perspectives, as a precondition for normalization.

The remarks of a representative of the main Sunni parliamentary bloc and also Allawi's Iraqi List, are ambiguous, and talk around the question of withdrawal. Here is the Iraqi Accord Front person:
Deputy Hussein al-Faluji from the Iraqi Accord Front said "we support any measure from any party that promotes national reconciliation....What we're interested in is the stability of the country and the solution of problems, starting with security. ...This latest bill shows that the Americans have admitted that the occupation of Iraq was a big mistake. ...We will be preparing demands on the US for compensation for all who suffered damage in the occupation, [and this will involve] over three trillion dollars in damages...
The Allawi person, for his part, stressed that you have to understand this latest bill as part of a political struggle in Washington in which the paramount interest of each of the parties is to make the other look bad.

As I noted above, the assumption in this collection of reactions is that the bill really does refer to a "withdrawal" plain and simple. Once the Iraqi parties study the fine print and realize that what the Democrats are intent on defeating is the Republicans, not the Iraq-control project, the configuration among Iraqi parties could be different. For instance, if it became clear that the Americans could in effect garrison Iraq and protect their friends via mega-bases over or under the horizon, or whatever the expression is, or with special forces, or what have you, then it stands to reason that the status quo parties could well support it. But that is another question. The point about today's piece is that the opponents of even talking about withdrawal at this point are the Maliki administration backed by SCIRI and the Kurds, with the "yes to withdrawal" position represented by the Sadrists and important parts of the Sunni resistance.


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