The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Iraq: Is the Endgame Upon Us?

I am not sure that I would paint things in quite so harsh black and white tones as Rick Moran's alarming take on the Iraqi Sunni VP al-Hashimi's threat to pull out of the government--but neither do I think we can ignore the pace and intensity of current Iraqi politics. Gen. Petraeus himself has said that security is a prerequisite for a political solution--but security isn't in itself the solution. And with American support for the surge teetering, it may not be "the end" if al-Hashimi walks--but it certainly would portend a sea change, and a need for the US to apply enormous non-subtle pressure. And that has been something which Bush has been reluctant to do thus far.

One thing is certain though: things in Iraq are about to get very interesting. From Rick's post:

Al-Hashimi is no fool. He can see as well as I or anyone else who has bothered to pay attention that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is not making a sincere effort to address the issues that would facilitate reconciliation between Sunni and Shia and start the process of making Iraq a whole country again. The oil revenue sharing bill has been languishing for months in the Iraqi Parliament with no sign that the objections of the Kurds or Sunnis are being addressed much less that the Shias are anxious for the bill to become law in the first place.

Some of the other vital issues that Maliki is either avoiding or approaching in a half hearted manner guaranteeing failure include the proposed de-Baathification board that would allow those Sunnis who worked for Saddam but did not participate in the atrocities to work for the government – an important economic measure for the Sunni community where unemployment is rampant and where many thousands are prevented from police and army duty by their past affiliation with the regime. And Maliki’s reconciliation plan – submitted to Parliament with great fanfare last June – seems to have slipped through the cracks with nary a word heard about it in months. A Reconciliation Conference held last spring was a spectacular failure as most of the Sunni invitees refused to attend. And why should they? Until amnesty for insurgents is put on the table, what’s the point?

There are other issues that al-Hashimi and the Sunnis are concerned about including the above mentioned changes in the constitution. Outnumbered, outgunned, and nearly out of time, the Sunnis need those constitutional changes to salvage what’s left of their community. With nearly 2.5 million refugees outside the country and 750,000 internally displaced citizens (the vast majority of them Sunnis) the Sunni population has declined by an estimated 15% and is only getting smaller. They must have hope that there is a place for them in the new Iraq. And Maliki and the Shias are spitting in their face by not addressing any of their concerns.


The importance to Maliki that the Capitol be pacified is that if the Americans leave, he’s very like to find himself on the short end of a very long rope. So he will try to keep the Americans pacified by saying all the right words about reconciliation and power sharing while doing nothing to affect the former and actually try and sabotage the latter.

What to do? The Administration efforts in the political sphere have failed miserably to this point. Might it be time for Bush to bite the bullet and give Maliki the heave-ho, replacing him with some kind of government that would do what everyone agrees is necessary but that no one seems willing to work for?

It would be like taking all of those purple fingers raised in triumph following the election and cutting them off at the knuckle. But it may be the only way to save the country. This would be a last resort, the last arrow in Bush’s quiver and he may not use it anyway. Perhaps he’d rather see Iraq disintegrate than give up on his personal dream of promoting democracy in the Middle East.

There will be efforts to entice the Sunnis back into government if they leave. But I am absolutely convinced that Maliki, as with every other promise he has made to us, will do only the minimum necessary to bring that about. Al-Hashimi probably senses the same thing which is why he is willing to walk out in the first place.

This is without a doubt the crisis of the war. How the Administration handles the delicate matter of trying to keep the Sunnis in the government while putting pressure on Maliki to get busy with reforms will tell the tale of whether or not Iraq can be put back together again or whether it will fly apart at the seams.

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DiscerningTexan, 5/08/2007 10:16:00 AM |