Friday, August 17, 2007

The other market crisis

The press-photos made yesterday's Baghdad political announcement it look like an auction of antique furniture at Christies.

Probably we could say there was an auction of sorts going on, but for something a lot more valuable than any antique furniture, if we recall the passage in the famous Hadley Memo of last fall that launched the whole "realignment" and exclude-the-Sadrists push:
Consider monetary support to moderate groups that have been seeking to break with larger, more sectarian parties, as well as support Maliki himself as he declares himself the leader of the bloc and risks his position within Dawa and the Sadrists.
(Or in the words of Marc Lynch referring recently in his thumbnail tags to a report about putting the Anbar Salvation Front in the cabinet to replace the Sunni coalition: "Round and round it goes, at least until there are enough zeros").

The bizarre idea of announcing that a narrower sectarian "coalition" is a way of reviving the reconciliation process is a sure sign of the end of the US-sponsored "political process", says Al-Quds al-Arabi in its lead editorial this morning. But like all essentially financial issues, this is a little like the stock market: you can be right about the direction, but the real problem is how to predict timing. There is a remark attributed to Talabani in the Al-Quds al-Arabi news account of what happened yesterday that suggests the music might not stop right away. Talabani is quoted as saying:
With respect to the lack of participation in the front by the Islamic Party, President Talabani said: "We proposed participation to them, and Dr Tareq al-Hashemi, general secretary of the Islamic Party of Iraq hopes for the success of the Front, but he sees the time as not appropriate for the participation in it of his party. "


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re the Anbar Salvation Front, at the very end of its Iraqi Papers Saturday article, Iraq Slogger says,

"According to the Pan-Arab London-based newspaper (Al-Hayat), a major meeting was held in Anbar, joining representatives from the IAF with tribal leaders. The conferees agreed to disband the pro-government “Council for the Salvation of Anbar” and sack some of its leaders, chiefly those who negotiated with Maliki and made disparaging remarks against the IAF last week. The leader of the Council (now renamed “the awakening of Iraq”) affirmed that his organization rejects any participation in the government under the current conditions.

Al-Hayat said that Ba'this and representatives of insurgent factions, as well as officials from the ministries of interior and defense, were also present in the meeting."

That would be really big, if true. How credible is Al-Hayat?

3:42 PM  
Blogger badger said...

The problem is the spin. The paper made this look like a very important about-face for the Anbar group. But the story is clearly based on info from the notorious "Abu Risha", who remains head of the Anbar tribal outfit, and who also told the reporter: "We will be acting as intermediaries between the Accord Front and the government, so as to arrive at a solution that satisfies all of the parties". He said the enemies of yesterday can be the friends of today, and my reading of this is that when the IAF had a slice of the cake and his group had none, or more recently when people from his group looked to "take over" the IAF position in the government, there was enmity between them, but now they are going to work together for an agreed-on joint slice of the cake. He also said his group is anxious for a date to be set for local elections and for the government to be less sectarian. So all in all this looks to me more like political maneuvering, suggestive of Sunni unity across the tribal-party lines in Anbar, but all within the context of the current political process and of the Maliki government.

4:44 PM  

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