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Definitely Not Our Man in Iraq
Posted by: Dale Franks on Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What game is Nuri al-Maliki playing? Last week, he was upset because Iraqi forces, backed by US troops, staged a rad in Sadr City. Now, Mr. Maliki has ordered US-manned roadblocks around Sadr City to be shut down, and the US forces have complied.

Sadr City, of course, is the power center for Islamic cleric and whack-job Muqtada al-Sadr, who, by the way, has been a big supporter of Maliki. Maliki now is apparently returning the favor. As we discussed on the podcast this week, it's not certain what Mr. Maliki is doing. Mr. Sadr is undoubtedly behind some of the shenanigans going on over there, but, from all appearances, he's got Mr. Maliki in his pocket.

Mr. Maliki's people are saying that a general amnesty is in the works, to try to bring more of the...ahem...militants into the political process. As such, a little forbearance towards Mr. Sadr and his people are necessary.

(I point out, once again, that Mr. Sadr wouldn't be a problem, if we had bumped him off, as I suggested a few years ago. But, water under the bridge.)

Perhaps Mr. Maliki thinks he's got the peace process rollin' hard, because he knows how to talk to, appease, cajole, or threaten the various players in a way we don't. Or, maybe he's ready to begin the serious business of...uh...eliminating the threat to stability posed by the Sunnis.

Either way, I think we're moving towards the end game in Iraq. One way or another, though, Mr. Maliki needs us out, either because he feels we're more of a hindrance than a help to stability because of our presence, or because our presence would be an inhibiting factor when it comes to pacifying the Sunnis.

As we've always said, what happens in Iraq will ultimately be the decision of the Iraqis. Over the last three years, we have done little to ensure the Iraqis make the right decision, or, indeed, to ensure they even can do so, considering the internal pressures of that country.

But it looks to me like we're moving closer to an Iraqi request for US troop withdrawals. If we receive it, we'll have no choice but to accede to it, and, frankly, we shouldn't consider doing otherwise. No doubt we'll declare that our mission is accomplished, and that the Iraqi government is resuming full sovereignty and security responsibility. We'll tell everyone that we leave behind an Iraq that is a relatively free and democratic country.

Whether that situation will still obtain five seconds after the last C-17 takes off from Baghdad is anyone's guess.
 
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But it looks to me like we’re moving closer to an Iraqi request for US troop withdrawals.

From who, worded how, and in what forum?

Various Sunni political leaders and the Sadr-ites have been calling for a US withdrawal for oh, years now. That’s because there is no game of favors for favors between them and the US upper political echelons going.

Maliki, on the other hand, I do not believe will call for US withdrawals while he is Prime Minister. Why? Frankly, Bush doesn’t want him to. More so than he doesn’t want Maliki to make demands on any individual tactical situation.

At least when he’s speaking in English, Maliki says what his American audience - the US administration - wants him to say. The End.

That’s a big part of why his government is dysfunctional - like the Abbas government or the Karzai government - the US is trying to turn a very large bolt - a population - with a very small wrench - a small group of elites whose policy choices they dominate. As the situation deteriorates, Maliki has less and less power to do positive things for the US, but we can still veto him as much as we want to. In other words, paralysis and stalemate.

It’s not perfect control - but Maliki calling for withdrawal would amount to a complete break with the Administration. If there’s one theme The Admin has run on this election, they’ve run against withdrawal. Not very successfully, but they’re deeply committed.

I wish I was going to see it - it would be a great way to get a pause in the sectarian killing, even a truce - but I don’t believe it.

That doesn’t mean that this isn’t a smart column.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
This is a very perceptive entry, but I think your prognosis is wrong. Maliki won’t ask us to leave for one simple reason: safety of the government. If the US government leaves, so does the Green Zone. If the Green Zone is gone, Baghdad is a free fire zone and the Sunni insurgents will storm the government zone and blow up parliament Guy Fawkes style. Maliki is just in a bind right now. He can’t crack down on the Sadrists because they are his base of support. But without any pressure from Washington - like a threat of withdrawal - he won’t change his course vis-a-vis the militias (which now comprise 70 percent of the police force). Nothing will change until we threaten withdrawal. If we do threaten withdrawal, Maliki may start some sort of crackdown on the militias. He may even have the Americans do the dirty work for him. But he does not want us gone.

Unfortunatley, Bush will never threaten withdrawal because he still believes we are winning with the strategy we are on. I don’t think Bush appreciates the gravity of the situation in Iraq. Hopefully he will after November 7.
 
Written By: Elrod
URL: http://
This is a very perceptive entry, but I think your prognosis is wrong. Maliki won’t ask us to leave for one simple reason: safety of the government. If the US government leaves, so does the Green Zone. If the Green Zone is gone, Baghdad is a free fire zone and the Sunni insurgents will storm the government zone and blow up parliament Guy Fawkes style.
Baghdad is a free fire zone now.

If the US left, the last of Maliki’s concerns would be maintenance of the Iraqi "government."

When the US leaves, which it will do before November 2008, thus nullifying the issue in the next election, the Shia will make short work of the Arab Sunni resistance. How the Shia will deal with the Kurds is an open question, but a minor one. The Shia will have full Iranian backing. The Sunni will be no match.

The last thing we need to be concerned about is that Iraq will turn into an Al Qaeda base. Iran will not allow that to happen. The bottom line is that the day we leave Iraq, which we will be forced to do, is the same day that Iran will declare victory.

Then the issue will become, as it should be now, what to do about Iran. Iraq is a proxy for that question.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Why are you so sure that the Shi’ites will make short work of Sunni insurgents. They didn’t for hundreds of years. The Sunni insurgents are better trained than the Sadrists. It’s more likely the Sunnis would take over Baghdad than the other way around.
 
Written By: Elrod
URL: http://
Why are you so sure that the Shi’ites will make short work of Sunni insurgents. They didn’t for hundreds of years. The Sunni insurgents are better trained than the Sadrists. It’s more likely the Sunnis would take over Baghdad than the other way around.
Iran. Next question?

 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Iran is not necessarily going to invade Iraq like Iraq did to Iran in 1980. They’d rather work clandestinely to avoid giving the pretext of aggresion.
 
Written By: Elrod
URL: http://
Iran is not necessarily going to invade Iraq like Iraq did to Iran in 1980. They’d rather work clandestinely to avoid giving the pretext of aggresion.
It doesn’t need to. It has already penetrated Iraq.

Who is backing the Sunnis? Saudi Arabia? Jordan? Egypt? Possibly. But the governments in these countries would be more than clandestine. They would be totally hands off, as not to piss off the United States.

Iran does not have to worry about pissing off the US. The US is a declared enemy. Therefore, Iran has a free hand in Iraq when compared to Sunni Arab regimes.

And Iran has territorial ambitions that the Sunni Arab states do not have. Bin laden may have territorial ambitions. But the House of Saud does not. It desires stability.

Iran wants it more.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
The last thing we need to be concerned about is that Iraq will turn into an Al Qaeda base. Iran will not allow that to happen. The bottom line is that the day we leave Iraq, which we will be forced to do, is the same day that Iran will declare victory.
Iran declared victory (privately) the day we removed Saddam Hussein and his government for them.

Y’all do realize that Iran played us like a cheap guitar?

 
Written By: Captin Sarcastic
URL: http://
I suspect that what we’re seeing here is Maliki playing politics, and trying to build himself a political base. Regardless of what else happens, there is always going to be some Arab resentment toward any western influence within Iraq, and Maliki is simply playing to that, so as to retain power. After all, it’s not Americans who are going to elect him the next time around. It’s not the Americans toppling his government that he has to worry about.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://
All this "Maliki Business" ignores one small point...MALIKI DOESN’T HAVE TO REMAIN PM. Just a small thought experiment please, are there other groups in Iraq that do not support Sadr, why YES, they are the 30-40% of Iraq that is Sunni and Kurdish. And are the Shi’i united behind Maliki and the Sadrists, why NO, they are not. So what makes anyone think that Maliki=Hussein=Leader that can COMPEL the US to do anything?

It is as equally likely that a "No Confidence" Vote in Parliament can send Maliki and Co. home...

Try to remember guys, IRAQ IS A DEMOCRACY...I know it’s a concept difficult to grasp, because that would mean that Chimpy McShrub didn’t totally botch the job, but just because Maliki supports Sadr doesn’t mean IRAQ or IRAQI’S support Sadr.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
why YES, they are the 30-40% of Iraq that is Sunni and Kurdish.
The previous Sunni government has just gone on trial for killing 100,000 Kurds. Sunni militia (not Shia) are in open conflict with Kurds in Kirkuk. A crackdown on the Shia militia and empowerment of Sunni politicos is not in Kurdish interests.
And are the Shi’i united behind Maliki and the Sadrists
Yes, because Maliki has American backing and Sadr has Iranian backing. Shia need a supplier of weapons and assistance in Iraq, America and Iran are the two best possibilities. Without support they could well lose any sectarian conflict to the Baathists/Al Qaeda Sunni.

 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
You know, if we go home and the Sunnis get waxed, so be it.

They were idiots for not stopping the insurgency years ago.

Keep in mind the Shia haven’t really been doing too much about our troops - it’s the Sunni who have kept the daily death toll up for the headlines.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://

 
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