Bad Developments in Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
6 years, 2 months ago

Allawi was concerned about the Iraq vote recount.  As it turns out, he should have been, and then again, it won’t matter after all.  Iraqpundit notes that Maliki did all of this for his own benefit.

What’s funny about the recount is that Nouri Al Maliki claims he’s doing it for the Iraqi people. He himself said as much on one of the TV channels. And his oil minister said at a press conference that the State of Law want the government the Iraqi people chose. In other words, they are demanding the recount and complaining about how it’s being conducted not for them to all keep their jobs. It’s for the Iraqi people. Now that’s generosity.

It certainly is a curious claim. Because the Iraqi people have not demanded a recount. You really don’t hear anyone other than well-placed government employees who want to keep their jobs waiting for the recount results. You can even see Iraqis interviewed on TV saying the people voted, they chose Allawi, enough is enough. Iraqis just want a government that functions.

An outsider might say they’re afraid to protest. Actually that’s not the case. Because Iraqis marched in the streets a couple of days ago to protest the murder of Christians. If Iraqis really thought the recount was necessary, they might have marched in the streets to demand a recount.

But Maliki won’t need a fake recount.  The two leading Shi’ite factions – including Moqtada al Sadr – have agreed to a power sharing arrangement that will basically exclude Allawi.

An agreement signed by the two main Iranian-backed Shi’ite blocs seeking to govern Iraq gives the final decision on all their political disputes to top Shi’ite clerics, according to a copy obtained by the Associated Press yesterday.

If the alliance succeeds in forming the next government, the provision could increase the role of senior clergy in politics. The provision would probably further alienate Iraq’s Sunni minority, which had been hoping the March election would boost their say in the country.

The newly announced alliance between the Shi’ite blocs practically ensures they will form the core of any new government and squeeze out the top vote getter, Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya list, which received heavy Sunni support. But the terms of the alliance show the deep distrust between the two Shi’ite partners and seek to limit the powers of the prime minister.

A leading member of the prime minister’s coalition who signed the agreement on Tuesday confirmed that it gives a small group of clerics led by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani the last word on any disputes between the two allied blocs.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

“The marjaiyah has the final say in solving all the disputes between the two sides, and its directives and guidance are binding,’’ the agreement said, referring to the religious Shi’ite leadership based in the holy city of Najaf.

The provision applies only to the alliance, not to any new government. But if the Shi’ite alliance dominates the new government, clerics would potentially have a direct say in policy.

In the past, Shi’ite politicians have often turned informally to Sistani for advice and to resolve disputes. The agreement would enshrine that role in writing.

As recently as April 19, 2010, MEMRI got it very wrong.

The young Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, who opposed the American invasion of Iraq from the outset and has remained consistent in his opposition to the presence of foreign forces in the country, is emerging as a voice of Iraqi nationalism and as an obstacle to the unification of the two leading Shia groups – Nouri Al-Maliki’s State of Law [Dawlat Al-Qanon] and Ammar Al-Hakim’s Iraqi National Alliance [Al-I’tilaf Al-Watani Al-Iraqi], a measure strongly advocated by Iran to prevent the Sunnis, under Ayad Allawi’s Al-Iraqiya, from returning to power.

Sadr has done no such thing.  He is another pawn of Iran, and the empowering of Iran in this whole affair is troubling in the superlative.  Moqtada al Sadr was actually in the custody of the 3/2 Marines in 2004 (not surrounded, but in the custody of the Marines), and the British worked with remarkable precision and perseverance to persuade the powers that Sadr should be released.  Released he was, and we are now faced with a Shi’ite coalition in Iraq that threatens the very fabric of the nation with Persian hegemony.

Actions have consequences, and something done in 2004 rings with ghostly sounds in 2010.  I have exchanged e-mail with Tom Ricks on the situation in Iraq in response to, oh, I don’t know, his 320,687th post about how Iraq is collapsing.  I am not worried about al Qaeda in Iraq retaking Anbar.  It won’t happen.  But the biggest worry I have is that Iran’s power would increase in the region.  I was right, and I am right.  Our failure to do the hard things in 2004 and our failure to take on Iran as the regional bully that it is might still cause us to lose the costly campaign in Iraq.

  • TSAlfabet

    Yes, we certainly blew it big time in not confronting Iran from 2004 on. Bush really dropped the ball on that one.

    On the other hand, the shia cleric, Sistani, is anything but an Iranian tool. Sistani adheres to the opposite view from the Iranian clergy, advocating that clerics should not be in positions of political power.

    It is unlikely that Iraq is going to be controlled or even heavily influenced by Iran. Iraqi shia are Arabs, and there is a long-standing, historical antipathy between the Iraqi Arabs and Iranian Persians.

    The greater likelihood is that Iraq will use its increasing oil wealth in an arms race with Iran to counter its influence and try to chart a course that is independent of Iran and the U.S.

    Here again, if Bush had not hastily negotiated such a crappy SOFA with Maliki in 2008, we would be in a much stronger position to influence the course of events in Iraq now. (Of course, this line of argument assumes that we would have an Administration that sees the strategic benefits to the U.S. of an enduring presence and relationship with Iraq).

    Even so, Iraq will not forget the role that Iran and Syria played (and continue to play) in fueling the insurgencies. Iraq needs to play its cards very close to the vest for now, while it rebuilds and strengthens its military. It cannot afford open war with Iran at this point.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Iran,Iraq and was published May 7th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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