Saturday, May 12, 2007

Al-Akhbar: Failure of the Surge is leading to a new level of confrontation in the Green Zone

The Lebanese opposition newspaper Al-Akhbar this morning publishes a Baghdad-based report indicating a heightened level of Green-Zone instability. The report begins like this:
Al-Akhbar learned yesterday from reliable sources that the Iraqi political scene is about to witness "fundamental changes" in the coming days, and that the Iraqi Accord Front, the Dialogue [Front], the Iraqi [List], and other political groups, including some from the UIA, are on the verge of announcing a broad political front, currently studying an alliance also with the Fadhila bloc and Kurdish groups, with the aim of announcing a "national salvation program". These sources said what is giving urgency to this plan is a feeling on the part of the above-mentioned groups about the seriousness of the security situation even within the Green Zone, which they say has become a security refuge infiltrated by militias belonging to governing groups or connected with them, in the guise of different types of "guards" or "work details", in preparation for putting down any attempt either constitutionally to deny confidence to the government, or a coup against it.

The sources said the IAF has received an implicit warning from Prime Minister Maliki, the gist of which is a withdrawal of the IAF from the government would compel [the government] to rely on "the Iranians" [the journalist's quotation marks] to maintain order, which some in the IAF saw as an explicit threat.

On a related point, some in the Islamic Party of Iraq [Tareq Hashemi's party] indicated that the "national salvation" plan that Allawi has been promoting has broad political support internally [not clear whether internally in Iraq or just in the Green Zone], moreover it has support from Arab countries, and the blessing of four Arab countries, namely Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait. [And in a similar indication of urgency] the Fadhila bloc proposed in Parliament two days ago the holding of early [Parliamentary] elections by the end of this year, to pull the country out of its current situation. A Fadhila party spokesman told reporters: This proposal springs from the inability of the present government or Parliament to solve the problems they are currently facing.
What is particularly ominous, or at least incendiary, about this, from a regional point of view, is the reference to the implicit warning by Maliki that IAF desertion would force him to rely on the Iranians for law and order, and the idea that the Allawi plan has the "blessing" of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait. In addition, or course, to the idea that government-related militias have been positioning themselves inside the Green Zone to put down any such attempt.

Al-Akhbar says the immediate trigger for this kind of talk is the failure of the Surge. The reporter puts it this way:
Observers have noted that these new political developments spring basically from "the bitter failure" [journalist's quotation marks] of the security plan, and the renewed control of the streets of the militias, with the knowledge of the government or under its supervision, together with a serious deterioration in living conditions, not to mention the exacerbation of financial and administrative corruption.