Thursday, July 12, 2007

Al-Hayat: American "benchmark" pressure is leading to a new alignment of characters to fight the Sadrists (just what the Hadley memo suggested)

Al-Hayat describes the effect the the congressionally mandated report on the Iraqi "benchmarks" is having on the Iraqi political scene, his main points being: (1) The pressure to meet benchmarks is causing an escalation in the strategy of bombing-attacks/mass arrests in urban areas; (2) it appears the leader of the Islamic Party (of Muslim Brotherhood origin), Tareq al-Hashemi, is being offered a role in government decision-making, to keep him on board; (3) the so-called "three plus one" scheme will apparently mean some additional support for Maliki in the expected confrontation with the Mahdi Army, and Sadr spokespeople are talking about a "coming war" between the Mahdi Army and militias to be set up by the Iraqi and occupation forces and certain tribal leaders. (4) An IAF parliamentarian said it appears the only way any candidate to replace Maliki could succeed in getting the needed 183 votes would be if Dawa and SIIC were to agree join with other groups in supporting Adel abdul Mahdi.

In Baghdad, the reporter says, the political people are awaiting the American report with apprehension. Abdulkarim al-Bakhati, an adviser to the Prime Minister, told Al-Hayat: "The political competitive struggles are the main motivating factor behind the bombing of certain towns in Baghdad and in the Iraqi South", and he talked about "the existence of an American military strategy that operates on the principle of random bombing of towns, and simultaneously sending in members of the dirty squads to carry out massive arrests in those towns".

Sami al-Askari, a politician close to Maliki, criticized the American time-limits for Baghdad, insisting the [Iraqi] government is not interested in internal American political struggles.

But Hamid al-Maala one of the leaders of SIIC (formerly SCIRI) said "Bush supports the broad move to governmental change represented by the 3+1 project". The reporter explains: The three plus one is shorthand for a change that will involve the President of the Republic and his two vice presidents (collectively called the Presidency Council) in making government decisions, along with the Prime Minister. And that, he explains, will give Tareq al-Hashemi, who is one of the vice-presidents, the chance to participate in decision-making. And he quotes Hashemi: "Our demand, in brief, is just for the Presidency Council to exercise its constitutional rights, and we hope that this is something that will be resolved in the periodic meetings between the Presidency Council and the Prime Minister".

The journalist interjects with a reality check: "However", he writes, "from another point of view [a polite expression] it appears this isn't going to be enough to bring about the required changes [presumably, the changes that the Bush administration is demanding in terms of benchmarks and so on], but what it will do is to give [Maliki] additional support in his expected confrontation with the Mahdi Army, whose leaders have already opened fire on the government and declared their intention to topple it". He quotes Salah al-Abidi, a Sadr spokesman, who charges that Maliki government has planning for a long time, along with the occupation forces and "other Shiite parties", a program for liquidating the Mahdi Army. And then he quotes a "top Sadr assistant" whom he doesn't name.
[This person said] "Shiite parties", and he doesn't name them, "are intent on allying with tribes and with the American forces, and on forming [with them] militias to strike at the Mahdi Army". And he said there is a near-term war looming on the horizon.

The journalist then notes that Maliki's office issued a statement confirming he has been meeting with tribal leaders in the Iraqi South, including rhetoric along the lines of Who is selling Iraq, it is not us.

In this tense environment, says the journalist, it doesn't seem that the "proposals for change" (apparently referring to the "three plus one" scheme and perhaps also the idea of a new Prime Minister) stand much of a chance of bringing about the required changes. He concludes by quoting Wa'il Abdullatif, a member of parliament from the Iraqi Accord Front, who said there are three people in the running to succeed Maliki, namely vice-president of the republic Adel abdul Mahdi, the westernized IMF-type Shiite who was the US favorite in the runoff to succeed Jaafari, beaten out by Maliki, who enjoyed at that time Sadrist support; former president Iyad Allawi; and Ibrahim Jaafari himself. "But this requires 183 votes", Abdullatif explained, "which makes it pretty much impossible for any of them, unless there is an agreement between the Dawa and Supreme Council parties to support adbulMahdi".


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, tonight I almost called a liberal talk show host who was discussing the obvious Bush spin on the "benchmarks". My question would have been why is anyone with a brain even taking these "benchmarks" seriously. I mean, they commit the war crime of unprovoked invasion, conquest, and attempted takeover, and then they create "benchmarks" that must be reached - or what? They stop illegally occupying the country? They keep illegally occupying the country? They stop supporting the make-believe government of the country?

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The benchmarks are simply the means to ratchet the Maliki administration into a quasi-nationalist posture (favorable to the occupation) in order to circumvent a genuine nationalist consensus from developing. Or in other words Iraq must remain in a failed state status until a state complicit to U.S. interests is permitted to emerge

anna missed

2:45 AM  

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