9 years ago
In Iraqi Government on the Verge of Powerlessness, I rehearsed my counsel to effect what I called the “strategic disappearance” of Moqtada al Sadr. Sadr’s presence on the political and religious scene will not only cause radical Islamic forces to have sway, but will undermine the pitiful Maliki government as well as give Iran forces deployed throughout the region. Then I linked Omar Fadhil who, after giving us brilliant prose concerning the situation in Iraq, summarized the affect that Sadr has on Iraq, saying:
While Al-Qaeda poses a serious security challenge in some provinces, Sadr threatens the future of the whole country. He can paralyze or disrupt the proper functioning of whole ministries and provinces.
Omar concludes with his recommendations, similar to my own:
Sadr is not simply an outlaw; he represents Iran’s project in Iraq just like Hamas and Nasrallah represent it in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon. These are the three arms of Iran in the Middle East that have worked consistently to ruin every emerging democratic project. And these arms must be cut off sooner rather than later.
I had lamented the return of Sadr from Iran the first time he left Iraq, believing his reapperance to be the end of our opportunity to effect his disappearance from the scene in Iraq. As it turns out, Sadr has presented us with another such golden opportunity; according to U.S. military sources, he has returned to Iran.
Maliki has attempted to enlist the help of the Sunnis and crack down on the Shi’ite militias, while Sadr has made a public ruse of joining the political process. Maliki’s job is tenous, where he attempts to hold accountable the very bloc that put him in office. There is a growing rift between Sadr and Maliki.
A powerful Shia bloc lashed out at Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki today after he accused it of failing to take a clear stance on violence, signalling a deepening rift between Maliki and a former backer.
Followers from the movement of anti-American Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose support propelled Maliki into the prime minister’s office last year, also held street protests in Baghdad in the wake of the Iraqi leader’s comments yesterday.
“This government is at the edge of an abyss. It will collapse,” said Ahmed al-Shaibany, a prominent cleric and member of Sadr’s inner circle of advisers.
“Maliki … wants to send a message to the (US) occupiers: ‘I can implement your requests’ … We tell you that you are committing a mistake,” he said in a statement. Another top Sadr aide made similar comments in a statement. Maliki, himself a Shia, yesterday demanded the Sadr bloc take a clear stance against rogue elements within the movement’s Mehdi Army militia that Washington blames for killing US troops.
The Sunni politicians had already begun a boycott of the Maliki government, and now a vote of no confidence looms over Maliki’s administration.
For four years, Iraqis have been waiting in lines at gas stations in Baghdad, waiting for their lives to get better. But, as CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan reports, the situation has gotten worse and their government is now in crisis.
That has led senior Iraqi leaders to demand drastic change. CBS News has learned that on July 15, they plan to ask for a no-confidence vote in the Iraqi parliament as the first step to bringing down the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Even those closest to the Iraqi prime minister, from his own party, admit the political situation is desperate.
“I feel there is no strategy, so the people become hopeless,” said Faliy al Fayadh, an MP from the Dawa Party. “You can live without petrol, without electricity, but you can’t live without hope.”
Iraq’s prime minister is facing his most serious challenge yet. The no-confidence vote will be requested by the largest block of Sunni politicians, who are part of a broad political alliance called the Iraq Project. What they want is a new government run by ministers who are appointed for their expertise, not their party loyalty.
The Iraq Project is known to the highest levels of the U.S. government. CBS News has learned it was discussed in detail on Vice President Dick Cheney’s most recent visit to Baghdad, when he met with the Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi.
Al-Maliki has announced his own alliance to try save his government, but even his vice president says that’s little more than a short-term fix.
“Cosmetic change is not going to serve the interests of Iraqis is not going to stabilize, is not going to improve security , what we need is much bigger that that,” said al Hashimi, the leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party.
Leaders of the Iraq Project claim they have the necessary votes to force al-Maliki to resign, but that has yet to be tested in parliament. For now, the U.S. is still standing by the Iraqi leader – publicly at least.
Maliki cannot give control fast enough to the bloc that put him into power (including driving the U.S. forces from Iraq which will likely lead to a bloodbath by the Sunnis at the hands of the Shi’a). They are dissatisfied, but so are the Sunnis who are coming out on the short end of the stick regarding hospitals, reconstruction, funds, oil revenue sharing, and all of the other things that should be split according to population.
This is an extremely problematic development. Unless and until the blocs in Iraq can enact power and revenue sharing as well as empower the government to govern, population security from the “surge” will be temporary. And the U.S. still has a chance to effect the “strategic disapperance” of Moqtada al Sadr, catalyst for much of the turmoil, without which there will be no peace in Iraq.