Sunday, May 21, 2006

Iraq update 

So how are things going in Iraq these days?
Well, let's check Juan Cole.
Oh, good, a new government at last!
Oh, bad, look who it is:
The ironies here are manifold. Iraq has had to wait over 5 months after the December 15 elections for a government finally to be formed. The US intervened with local Iraqi parties to overturn the democratic vote of the United Iraqi Alliance for Ibrahim Jaafari.
It got instead [Nuri al-Maliki] a long-time member of the Damascus politburo of the then-radical Islamic Dawa Party, which helped form Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Double bad, that's not all:
. . . under US viceroy Paul Bremer, the US tried to establish "red lines" stipulating that no "Islamist" should fill posts like minister of education or minister of culture. This, Bremer says, was to protect the rights of the "secular" Iraqi "majority." . . . now the Bush administration extolls the turn-over of Higher Education to a Sunni fundamentalist from the equivalent of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the turn-over of Culture and of Education (i.e. K-12) to Shiite fundamentalists. Iraq now has a coalition government dominated by parties with names such as the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Islamic Dawa Party, the Bloc of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, and the Iraqi Islamic Party (begun as a branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood). Bremer's "red lines" are long gone, pushed over the cliff by US policies along with the phantom "secular" majority. No wonder neighbors like Egypt are alarmed and fit to be tied.
Triple bad:
Nuri al-Maliki . . . has not presented ministers for any of the key three cabinet posts having to do with national security. Wouldn't you think that addressing national security might be the first priority? He has given us a minister of Tourism but not a Minister of Defense or a Minister of the Interior?
Finally, some good news:
. . . the incomplete character of the new government probably doesn't matter that much. The Sunni Arab guerrilla movement will only redouble its efforts to overthrow this new government. And, there is no evidence that the troops and security forces of the new government can effectively curb the guerrillas, even if they had new leadership.
So it doesn't matter that the new Iraq government is incompetent, because they're irrelevant anyway.
Cole also describes the current state of the Iraq civil wars -- two civil wars and two guerrilla wars:
There are now four distinct wars going on in Iraq simultaneously
1) The Sunni Arab guerrilla war to expel US troops from the Sunni heartland
2) The militant Shiite guerrilla war to expel the British from the south
3) The Sunni-Shiite civil war
4) The Kurdish war against Arabs and Turkmen in Kirkuk province, and the Arab and Turkmen guerrilla struggle against the encroaching Peshmerga (the Kurdish militia).
Moreover, all of these wars involve strongly entrenched militias, which both keep some order and also substantially disrupt it.
These wars are not going to be over for a long, long time.

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