S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The players in the upcoming Iraq election

The current leader in Iraq is Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. He heads the interim government, to be replaced by a permanent government to be elected soon. (Their website was last updated September 7, which tells you how things have been going there).
How will he and other current leaders influence the outcome of the December 15 election in Iraq?

Who are the other key players in what eventually happens half a world away?

  • President Bush outlines his strategy for "victory" in a speech today. My favorite resource, Steve Clemons, posts about it here.
  • Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been trying to build bridges between the various factions. He has been called a soft neocon, by some who know him well.
  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wants to be sure tha we know that there is no insurgency in Iraq. But the current violence is certainly at play in the outcome of the elections.
  • Iraq's national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, asserts that up to 30,000 U.S military forces can leave Iraq next year.
  • The Arab League organized a conference recently hoping that the seeds of reconciliation could be sown amongst Iraq's leading influencers. It did not go well, but it eventually is in the hands of the region to make lasting peace. Neighboring countries must take leading player roles or it will never work.
  • U. S. journalists have roles to play in Iraq. The top notch investigative journalist Seymour Hersh writes a "must read" story for The New Yorker about what the military thinks about the future of the war in Iraq. Coalition partners Great Britain and the United States, according to Hersh, have a "candidate of choice" in former Iraq official Ayad Allawi. Discussing the role of the British PM, this quote:
Blair has assigned a small team of operatives to provide political help to Allawi, the former adviser told me. He also said that there was talk late this fall, with American concurrence, of urging Ahmad Chalabi, a secular Shiite, to join forces in a coalition with Allawi during the
post-election negotiations to form a government. Chalabi, who is notorious for his role in promoting flawed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction before the war, is now a deputy Prime Minister. He and Allawi were bitter rivals while in exile.
  • TPM Cafe's Matthew Yglesias posts an interesting story about a key Iraqi player, Muqtada al-Sadr, asking "where is Muqtada?" Quoting the post:
Spencer Ackerman thinks Sadr may actually be the best hope
for national reconciliation in Iraq, since he's a Shiite Arab with anti-American and nationalist sentiments that have allowed him to build some ties with anti-occupation Sunni Arabs.
  • Al-Jazeera wants to make sure that it is not impeded in its coverage by being bombed by the U.S. The White house vehemently denies the report by a British tabloid that there was a U.S. plan to bomb their Qatar headquarters. British "leakers" were hauled into court over the report.

Who will probably not appreciably influence the election outcome?

  • Congress could be an influential player in the outcome of the election. But a study by the Congressional Research Service reports that we lack ways to accurately measure progress in the so-called war on terror. Congress will be asked to appropriate $3.9 billion to help train and equip the Iraq military. And the lawmakers will probably not question the request.
  • Saddam Hussein's trial in Iraq will resume December 5. He sees the U.S. as an "occupier." Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, will be on his defense team.


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