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.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Our guy in Iraq

(NYT links to Malaki articles in title-link above)
Nuri Kamal al-Maliki -
Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is the stated choice of our current president (OCP). Many lives in our country and his depend on whether he is the right man for the job. He came into office after many months of wrangling following the most recent election in Iraq, but many now question that choice.
Some are even questioning whether OCP still stands behind the PM.Is Nuri al-Malaki "The next fall-guy?" asks Jack Cafferty on the CNN video linked at The Deseret Spectacle, for example. Can he stand up to rival/ally al-Sadr and the Mahdi Army?
PM al-Malaki vs. al-Sadr - What do other news sources reveal recently about Nouri al-Malaki? Will he be the guy to carry out the "surge" planned by OCP? The biggest question is this: Can al-Malaki come through in the key efforts at disarming the Shiite militias in southern Baghdad? This article from a few days ago speculated that the Mahdi army was going underground for the time being. Mercury, a McClatchy news source, headlined, (1/13/07) "Mahdi Army lowers its profile, anticipating arrival of U.S. troops." Quoting from the article,

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite whose political backers include al-Sadr, has told legislators and advisors that security forces under the new plan will first go after the Sunni insurgency, which is responsible for most of the capital's car and roadside bombs that target Shiites and U.S. forces.
After that, he's said he'll move to quell militias, including the Mahdi Army, who are suspected in the killings of dozens of Sunnis.
. . . The new security plan was crafted to get rid of the Sunnis and the resistance in Baghdad," said Sinan Abdullah, 30, a Sunni plastics trader in Zaiyouna. "Instead of dissolving the militias, the government starts with the Sunnis first. I have one sentence for Bush, `You have dealt with the wrong people.'"
American officers here say they have no plans to go after militia groups as long as the militias do not attack.
"We're not necessarily going after the militias if the militias don't come after us," said Army Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, a military spokesman for the Multi-National Division-Baghdad. "Our mission is not to take down the militias, that's a function of the government."
Few believe that al-Maliki, a hard-line Shiite, will ever go after Shiite militias.

Is al-Malaki cooperating with OCP or obstructing? Who is in charge - our current president, the Iraqi PM, al-Sadr, or none of the above? A day later this (1/14/07) NYT article discussed the news that "U.S. and Iraqis Are Wrangling Over War Plans." To quote,

Compounding American doubts about the government’s willingness to go after Shiite extremists has been a behind-the-scenes struggle over the appointment of the Iraqi officer to fill the key post of operational commander for the Baghdad operation. In face of strong American skepticism, the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, has selected an officer from the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq who was virtually unknown to the Americans, and whose hard-edged demands for Iraqi primacy in the effort has deepened American anxieties.
. . . For the Americans, accustomed to clear operational control, the partnership concept is troublesome — full of potential, some officers fear, for dispute with the Iraqis over tough issues like applying an equal hand against Shiite and Sunni gunmen.
It remains unclear whether the prime minister will be in overall charge of the new crackdown, a demand the Iraqis have pressed since the plan was first discussed last month, American officials said. They said days of argument had led to a compromise under which General Qanbar would answer to a so-called crisis counsel, made up of Mr. Maliki, the ministers of defense and interior, Iraqi national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, and the top American military commander in Iraq.
. . . American officers say that only time will tell, but that they will be surprised if Mr. Maliki and his top aides change colors, despite the assurances the Iraqi leader is said to have offered President Bush. As described by American commanders, the pattern in the eight months since Mr. Maliki took office has been for the Shiite leaders who dominate the new government to press the Americans to concentrate on Sunni extremists.
The argument is that Shiite death squads, which have accounted for an almost equal number of deaths, are engaged in retaliatory attacks, and that those will cease when the Sunni groups are rooted out.
Malaki claims action - Is it significant or just enough? Are Sunni insurgents, renegade Shiites the real targets? Is it civil war or something else? How will we really know? A New York Times article (1/17/07) carried this story with the headline, "Shiite fighters are arrested, Iraq says." A quote:

It was the first time the Shiite government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had claimed significant action against the militia, the Mahdi Army, one of the most intractable problems facing his administration. . . Although the announcement seemed timed to deflect growing scrutiny by an American administration that has grown increasingly frustrated with Mr. Maliki, American officers here offered some support for the government’s claims, saying that at least half a dozen senior militia leaders had been taken into custody in recent weeks. . . Still, some American military officials remained skeptical that the effort was more than just a short-term attempt to appease them at a time when American government support for Mr. Maliki appeared to have sunk to an all-time low.
News today told more - PM al-Malaki may or may not be our guy in Iraq. We really will not be able to tell for sure for some time, in my opinion. The story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (1/18/07) headlined al-Malaki's claims, "Iraqi PM: 400 Shiite fighters detained." Quoting from the story,

Apparently seeking to calm fears that he will not go after militia gunmen loyal to one of his key political backers, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said 400 fighters from the Mahdi Army had been arrested over the past several weeks.
. . . Meanwhile, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported Thursday that al-Maliki was deeply critical of President Bush during a briefing with a small group of reporters.
"The situation would be much better if the United States had immediately sent our security forces more adequate weapons and equipment. If they had committed themselves more and with greater speed we would have had a lot fewer deaths among Iraqi civilians and American soldiers," al-Maliki was quoted as saying by Corriere.
However, the premier stopped short of openly criticizing Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops to join the estimated 130,000 already there.
"We have to see how the situation in the field will go," he said. "We cannot rule out that the situation will drastically improve, allowing U.S. troops to leave the country in great numbers in three to six months."
The newspaper quoted the embattled Iraqi leader as saying Bush had capitulated to domestic pressure when he criticized the hanging of former leader Saddam Hussein. He further struck back at comments by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice which suggested al-Maliki was in a weak position and on borrowed time.
He said such remarks were giving aid and comfort to militants fighting to drive out American troops and unseat his government.
Only time will tell - To have so many lives tied into such a mysterious partnership between Iraq and the U.S. is a mark of how out of control OCP has been since the inception of his invasion of Iraq.
The most fundamental questions remain. Is our guy OCP in charge or is it Vice-President Cheney? Is it now the bipartisan approach or are the neocons still running the war? Is our guy al-Malaki in charge or is it al-Sadr? It it the war on terror or the Iraq civil war? I have this awful hunch that it is the latter in each case. As a result far too many people in both countries die each and every day.

  • "Battling for Iraq" (9/24/04) by General David Petraeus.
  • Iraq death rates by state from U.S. News and World Report"- State Total Population Deaths in Iraq Deaths per 100,000." My state has lost the highest number of troops, but small states have given a higher proportion per capita. Here are a few statistics,
    State-Total Pop.- Iraq Deaths-Deaths/100,000
    Texas: 23,507,783 - 269 - 1.14 Vermont: 623,908 - 18 - 2.88
    South Dakota: 781,919 - 17 - 2.17
    North Dakota: 635,867 - 13 - 2.04
    Alaska: 670,053 - 13 - 1.94
    Nebraska: 1,768,331 - 31 - 1.75
    Louisiana: 4,287,768 - 69 - 1.6
    Wyoming: 515,004 - 8 - 1.56
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Erin O'Brien said...

So what you're saying is that Dubya isn't really the anitchrist, it's Cheney, huh?

Oh. Okay. Now I get it.

Carol Gee said...

Hi Erin, welcome! I see your comments on Bobby Farouk's blog. I just love his stuff. . . his work is familiar and surprising every time.
Re Dubya and Cheney, the two of them run neck and neck much of the time. What wins out is that OCP seems so suggestible, and Darth so darkly suggestive. The pair make my head spin.
Come back any time.

Carol Gee said...
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