Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Maliki's own "new government" idea

Prime Minister Maliki met yesterday with Ayatollah Sistani, and the Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar puts this in the context of recent events. The paper says:
For the first time since the start of the current Maliki government crisis, the Prime Minister admitted he plans to put together a new government of technocrats... Maliki met yesterday in Najaf with Ayatollah Sistani and he told reporters after the meeting that they discussed the possibility of a government based on technocrats, and not an emergency government, and he showed Sistani the names of persons he was proposing as ministers.
The reporter notes that since the departure of the Sadrist and the IAF and Allawi ministers, Maliki's people have often hinted at the idea of a complete cabinet shakeup and installation of non-partisan ministers.
but this clear statement by Maliki of [the idea of] a complete shake-up, and the exchange of views with Sistani, are clear indications that the time for this step is drawing near, and this comes the day after the government's announcement of its overall "Iraq First" strategy, which includes political, security, and economic targets, "taking into consideration the long-standing relationship with the United States of America" [the journalist quoting from the official announcement of the day before].
The inclusion of the phrase about the "long-standing relationship with the USA" in the announcement by Mowaffaq Rubaie Tuesday, and the journalist's underlining it again today, serve to highlight the American fingerprints on this.

And the reporter twins the "government of technocrats" remarks with another issue having an even clearer bearing on Bush's domestic political problems.

The reporter says there was another "first", and it was the first public suggestion by Petraeus of the possibility of a US troop-reduction, by March 2008 (referring to his ABC News interview). The reporter comments:
It isn't clear whether the remarks of Petraeus indicate that the military leadership thinks that the 30,000 additional troops...improved the security situation sufficiently to call for a reduction in the force-level, or whether this represents knuckling under to the pressure the administration is under from politicians and the people, for a schedule for withdrawal from the Iraq quagmire.
It is the journalist's way of drawing attention to US-domestic political dimension of this, without having to be too blunt about it.

There isn't any news about the earlier-reported plans for a Sunni-Allawi delegation to Washington. Instead, on that general topic, there is this:
A statement issued by the National Dialogue Front, headed by Saleh al-Mutlak, said: "Over 100 Iraqis, including dozens of parliamentarians from a variety of parliamentary blocs, have sent a message to Bush, asking him to support the formation of a new government headed by Ayad Allawi replacing Maliki, describing the latter as a 'follower of the Iranian regime'".
There isn't any elaboration.


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