Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Another (skeptical) reference to the idea of "a new political process"

Iraqi writer Fadhil Al-Rubaie, continuing his series in the Qatari paper AlArab on Iraqi national policy, has some interesting observations on what people think the current American position is, and what it means.

He describes discussion among expat Iraqis and others opposed to the occupation and the current political process. The discussions cover all kinds of "national reconciliation" issues, and there are the examples of Somalia, Palestine and Lebanon.

But first he makes some observations about the current peculiarities of the Iraqi case, as follows:
The noteworthy thing is that Washington, which promoted the passage of the Law on Dismantlement of the Iraqi Baath party ["De-Baathification Law"]is now promoting--secretly--a line that urges the abolition of that law, as an initial step on the road to agreement, which would lead, in the final analysis, to the launch of a "new political process", where all of the significant interests could sit at the table of a broad national dialogue.

Information is circulating that President Obama called Prime Minister Maliki and asked him to stop all of the legal measures relating to the prosecution of Tariq Aziz, deputy Prime Minister in the prior regime. And it seems, putting all indications together, that the new American administration is strongly interested in seeing Tariq Aziz released without delay.

In fact to dig into the [concept of the] American withdrawal by August 2010, and/or its delay and its definition, including the question whether it is a real or merely a formal withdrawal, would require linking [the idea of] withdrawal with [the idea of] launch of a new political process that would lead to reconciliation. And in other words, one would have to observe how military withdrawal--as illustrated in the above three instances--can be converted into a motive making Iraqis lay down a "project for agreement among Iraqis".

And for that we need to put the following embarrassing question: namely whether in any of the four cases (including Iraq), national reconciliation has led to any of those countries retaining their geographical identity once they were united politically?
He offers very brief remarks on Somalia, Palestine and Lebanon suggesting that the answer is: "really, no". With respect to Iraq in particular, he says there are already indications of de facto "federalist" measures, for instance: Already the governor of Najaf has instituted a requirement for Ashura visitors to obtain a provincial Visa at the airport; and in Basra the provincial governor has recently decided on construction of a network of roads and bridges linking [Basra] with the Iranian region of Tanuma, and with the Kuwaiti region of Safwan, all without reference to the central government, and this is permitted by the Law on Provincial Councils.

So what about national reconciliation discussed by Iraqis? This will be for the next installment.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say it is whistling in the wind to hope for real US support for 'national reconciliation' in Iraq. I would say that the best that can be hoped for is that the US should stop hindering that process.

I think this author offers a somewhat Sunni point of view (but I could be wrong; I haven't researched his biography).

I find it interesting that there may be manoeuvres to release Tariq Aziz. A Christian who worked for Saddam. That would be positive for reconciliation.

3:39 PM  
Blogger badger said...

My point in quoting from this piece is that he says the US supports abolishing the no-Baath constitutional clause, and in that connection holds out the idea of a "new political process". This in the context of related remarks in earlier posts. For whatever it means (more coopting of the resistance; pressure on Maliki; strategic re-Baathification; and/or some combination; or something else).

7:54 PM  
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