Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Musical Chairs
I've been trying to make sense of this story in today's news:
BAGHDAD, Iraq -Iraq's prime minister said Saturday he will reshuffle his Cabinet within two weeks and pursue criminal charges against political figures linked to extremists as a sign of his government's resolve to restore stability during the U.S.-led security crackdown in Baghdad.
Sounds pretty good, eh? But in the serpentine world of Iraqi politics, things aren't always as they appear. Juan Cole fills us in on what's really going on:
Al-Hayat reports that Iyad Allawi, a secular ex-Baathist Shiite who leads the Iraqi National List (25 seats in parliament), visited Kurdistan on Saturday. He is attempting to convince the Kurdistan Alliance to join his new coalition in parliament. Allawi has said that his list will leave the 'national unity government' headed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Allawi's list is small and he is deeply disliked by most of the religious Shiites that dominate parliament. I can't imagine that he can actually form a government given the present distribution of seats. But al-Hayat reports that Allawi was accompanied on his trip to Kurdistan by none other than US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, which the daily read as a sign of US support for dumping al-Maliki and trying to install Allawi as Prime Minister. (Allawi served as interim prime minister in 2004, having been appointed by the US and UN for this purpose. He is an old CIA asset.)
Nothing like having an old CIA asset as the leader of a country in which you are trying to win hearts and minds as an occupier, right? Cole sums it up in a somewhat deadpan, matter-of-fact way:
Still, one could imagine major changes in the Iraqi government in coming months once it becomes clear that the surge has failed and the US has run out of purely military options. One danger of tinkering with the government after you mobilized all those voters is that there could be a violent reaction if the changes were viewed as simple imperialist imposition.
I would think so.

Bottom line appears that the U.S. has decided some time ago that al Maliki isn't their man and that it's time to coup him out. This will only inflame the situation and create further chaos. But then, doing nothing will have the same result. I suspect that the real powers in Iraq don't see the government as relevent anyway and will simply continue their strategic maneuvers to gain advantage.