Abdullah's criticism of the "illegitimate" American presence in Iraq reflects the Saudi leader's deep misgivings about U.S. strategy there. Saudi sources say the king has given up on the ability of Iraq's Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, to overcome sectarian divisions and unite the country. The Saudi leadership is also said to believe that the U.S. troop surge is likely to fail, deepening the danger of all-out civil war in Iraq.Now nearly everyone recognizes that al-Maliki is a totally dysfunctional leader. The reality is Ayad Allawi had little support when the Iraqis went to the polls. So what will be the reaction of the Shiites if Allawi should replace al-Maliki?
The Saudis appear to favor replacing the Maliki government, which they see as dominated by Iranian-backed Shiite religious parties, and are quietly backing former interim prime minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite and ex-Baathist who has support among Iraqi Sunnis. Allawi's advisers say that his strategy is to exploit tensions within the Shiite religious alliance and form a new ruling coalition that would be made up of Sunnis, Kurds and secular Shiites. Allawi's camp believes he is close to having enough votes, thanks in part to Saudi political and financial support.
The Bush administration appears to have little enthusiasm for an Allawi putsch, despite its frustration with Maliki. U.S. officials fear that a change of government in Baghdad would only deepen the political disarray there and encourage new calls for the withdrawal of troops.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Democracy Iraqi Style - Dysfunctional
There has been a great deal of talk about the future Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. There was an interesting reference to this in the David Ignatius column I referenced below.