Sunday, February 10, 2008

GreenZone political summary

Mashraq Abbas writes in Al-Hayat: Politicians have the political dog tied up all right, the only problem being that they have the leash fastened to its tail instead of to its neck. In the six months since the exit of parties from Maliki's cabinet started, there has been a parade of politicians to Najaf for talks with the Ayatollah Sistani (Maliki, Jaafari, Barzani, Abdulmahdi, Hashemi, and yesterday Talabani), all of them convinced they obtained Sistani's support for some particular approach to remodeling the government, and all of them ultimately disappointed. Sistani fears having his authority exploited again for partisan ends as he feels happened in the case of the elections. [And it could be added that the populist attacks of the Mahdists against the "corruption" of Najaf is based in large part on just that point, namely that Najaf prostituted its spiritual authority to help form and prop up a corrupt government].

Abbas quickly runs through the various current theories of government-remodeling, the two main classes being (1) replacement of current vacancies only; and (2) resignation of the government and re-formation of a government with only 20 instead of the current 36 ministries. In both cases the rhetoric is about ending the "allocations" system, but in both cases the stumbling blocks are exactly what they were before: allocation disputes. If the Accord Front returned, would they still only get two ministries, defence and planning, and would Maliki be permitted to continue his end-run around the ministerial set-up via his "office of the chiefs of staff of the armed forces"? The Kurds insist on the replacement of the Oil Minister because the present one opposes Kurdistan-only oil contracts. Etcetera.

What the proliferation of Sistani-visits shows is the failure of the politicians to come up with any actual solutions on their own. And understandably, Sistani is saying "no thank you" to offers to let him sponsor something. That is the gist of it.

Abbas concludes: As they vacillate between the "repair" and the "replacement" options, the main political groups have to face the fact of deterioration in the security situation in the country, and also the decline, now admitted, in efforts at national reconciliation.

(The points made here are worth bearing in mind, because we will be reading many things about Sistani--that he is "cutting down on his work-load", that he agrees with this one or that--and about the cabinet shuffle in the GreenZone--that the Accord Front is "returning" or not returning, that Maliki will be retained or replaced by Abdulmahdi, and so on--but the point is that in the absence of fundamental agreement this dog is still just tied up by its tail).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of the green zone, i thought this might interest you

Memo Blasts State Dept. Iraq Effort

i recommend this 8 page 'memo'.


8:43 PM  
Blogger badger said...

uh-oh, looks like the ship is sinking. notice the part about "withholding information from the Fuehrer" ?

10:28 PM  
Blogger JoshSN said...

Thanks for the article. For whatever reasons, Sistani's role in Iraq is rarely mentioned in the US press.

As for Miranda,

1. Republicans hate the State Department.
2. Crocker is a lackey, a political incompetent who is loudly loyal to Bush. If State was run well in Iraq, it would be despite him. I would be surpised to learn he wasn't actively trying to embarass State.
3. Manuel Miranda has his own website, which speaks volumes about his mental state.
4. Miranda was the guy who found Democrat e-mails on a shared server and decided to copy them and distribute them to Republicans. Frist canned him for it.

Miranda isn't that worthwhile.

6:37 AM  

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