Tuesday, November 13, 2007

US versus Maliki?

Al-Quds al-Arabi says the standoff respecting execution of former Iraqi Minister of Defence Sultan Hashem seems to have produced something of a Sunni-American "deal".

Sultan Hashem is from the Tai tribe, the reporter tell us, a big tribe that extends from the ex-minister's hometown of Mosul in the north to Basra in the south. And Hashem is recognized by all of the armed resistance factions as a professional, who back in the day represented neither the Baath as a party nor any of its tendencies, but worked for the defence of the nation. Moreover Iraqi president Talabani is opposed to his execution. So in the current atmosphere of reported reconciliation discussions between the Americans and resistance spokespersons (quite apart from the question how exploratory or real these may be, or with whom, exactly), there would be ample reason to avoid igniting another round of sectarian rage such as followed the execution of Saddam. (And the reporter adds: "It is officers in the former Iraqi army who form the backbone of the armed resistance)". That is the background, says this Al-Quds reporter. (And as a matter of fact the general picture of a reconciliation atmosphere versus another provocation is the same as what the NYT suggested late last month about this issue).

The Al-Quds al-Arabi reporter has this to say about the pressure to go ahead with the execution anyway:
The two groups that are known to be hard-liners for the carrying out of this [death-sentence] decision are the Dawa Party (Prime Minister's party) and the Supreme Council [SIIC] which was founded in Iran in the mid-1980s, both of which incline to the Iranian position, which is known to want a settling of accounts with the Iraqi armed forces by way of revenge for the eight years war. At the same time, execution would represent the igniting of the sectarian fights, and it would be a moral and legal scandal whose consequences Washington has learned about in the case of the execution of former president of Iraq Saddam Hussein.
This isn't just another Baghdad-mediated tug-of-war between Washington and Tehran. Rather, the reporter says it has important implications for the direction of the Iraqi domestic scene. He puts it this way:
Observes see General Sultan Hashem as having become an index in the question of escalation or calming of the chronic sectarian fighting in Iraq. In spite of which, Maliki, and the tendencies he represents in the governing Shiite coalition, refuse to see this issue from that angle, and is pressing ahead for the execution of all three who have been sentenced to death.
There is another current dispute in the Green Zone, parallel with this one, and it is the question of how to deal with the recent resignation of five cabinet ministers from the Sunni bloc. Their resignations were intended as pressure on Maliki to do more to reconcile Sunnis, including implementation of a general amnesty for those in custody who haven't been convicted of anything. But Maliki appears to be taking this as another opportunity to stick his thumb in the eye of the Sunni bloc, by simply accepting the resignations. And names mentioned as candidates to replace them--according the the latest news in this same Al-Quds Al-Arabi article--include a renegade from the Sunni bloc as a deputy Prime Minister, Chalabi as Minister of Communications, and Sami al-Askari (who, among other things, used to be in Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress) as Minister of Transport. But as the journalist notes, this part of the story is still in its early stages.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I find distasteful about his affair is the attempt by Talabani - whose treasonous pact with Tehran precipitated the Anfal campaign - and Al-Hashemi to use Sultan Hashem Ahmed as a pawn in their own evil scheme to divide the Resistance and secure the collaboration of certain elements who have already been engaging in back-channel negotiations with the Americans.

Having stood by and watched a US sponsored kangaroo court sentence him to death, Talabani and Al-Hashemi are now arguing retrospectively and opportunistically that Sultan Hashem Ahmed deserves clemency because he was supposedly only following orders and allegedly had contacts with the CIA during the invasion. Yet the latter failed to bring forth such arguments in his own defence during the trial and he apparently even named his daughter Anfal.

Of course, if Sultan Hashem Ahmed had agreed to work for the occupation or testify against Saddam Hussein he would never have been on trial in the first place.

8:44 AM  

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