Friday, September 12, 2008

Nutshell news

* Ammar al-Hakim son and heir of the ailing SupremeCouncil chief Abdulaziz al-Hakim, made remarks in an interview with Aswat alIraq in which he now claims his party is in favor of prompt local-council elections, after having been in the forefront of efforts to postpone and/or derail the elections until very recently (see also Reidar Visser's notebook for Sept 11). Visser says mini-Hakim may be responding to pressure from the Najaf religious authorities, but it is also important to note that the authorities themselves, along with Ammar, are ultimately responding to popular pressure.

* Local authorities in Babil province ordered the arrest by security forces of three water-management officials in the province, on charges of negligence in failing to deal with the cholera epidemic. In response to popular pressure to be seen doing something, needless to say.

* A Turkmen member of Parliament says he thinks the Presidency of the Republic will be forced by popular pressure to withdraw its veto of the July 22 law (in particular clause 24, which calls for an interim power-sharing arrangement in Kirkuk pending local elections).

* Association of Muslim Scholars of Iraq has called for ending the UN mission involved in the Kirkuk crisis, headed by DeMistura, because of lack of confidence in his neutrality and damage to the unity of Iraq. While AMSI has been critical of DeMistura, this call for actually ending the mission no doubt reflects additional pressure from their Sunni constituents.

These are nothing but fragments, but what they indicate in the background is the growing popular sense of alienation and impatience with the Kurd/SupremeCouncil/Dawa regime. This is nationalist, not only in content--rejection of Kurdish expansion in the North, and of SupremeCouncil ambitions (now being distinctly toned down) in the South--but also in its cross-sect character. For instance, the bluntest denunciation of the Maliki government came from a Sadrist preacher in Sadr City yesterday, calling the government's promises of improved services laughable and a joke, and warning the government not to cover up the number of cholera fatalities. (For a denunciation of government incompetence and coverup from the Sunni side, see this op-ed by Haroun Mohammed).

I think an understanding this kind of nationalist pressure on Maliki is the necessary background for an understanding of Maliki-Bush standoff.


Post a Comment

<< Home