Sunni Arab bloc quits Iraqi government
BAGHDAD - Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political bloc announced its withdrawal from the government Wednesday, undermining Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to seek reconciliation among the country's rival factions.Over at The Huffington Post Chris Weigant explains:
Violence continued unabated, with 50 people killed and 60 wounded when a suicide attacker exploded a fuel truck near a gas station in western Baghdad. Another 17 died in a separate car bomb attack in a central region of the capital. The U.S. military announced the deaths of three American soldiers killed by a sophisticated, armor-piercing bomb.
Rafaa al-Issawi, a leading member of the Front, said at a news conference in the capital that the bloc's six Cabinet ministers would submit their resignations later in the day.
Al-Issawi said the decision to pull out from the government followed what he called al-Maliki's failure to respond to a set of demands put forward by the Accordance Front last week, when it gave the prime minister seven days to meet its demands. The ultimatum expired Wednesday.
Among the demands: a pardon for security detainees not charged with specific crimes, the disbanding of militias and the participation of all groups represented in the government in dealing with security issues.
"The government is continuing with its arrogance, refusing to change its stand and has slammed shut the door to any meaningful reforms necessary for saving Iraq," al-Issawi said.
Things (In Iraq) Fall Apart?
While everyone watching the news from Iraq is focused on whether the "surge" is working or not (in anticipation of General Petraeus' upcoming report to Congress), there are powerful undercurrents at work in the region which may do more to define the future of Iraq than any upcoming "the-glass-is-half-full" report in Washington, D.C.As Weigant points out when we invaded Iraq and got rid of the Sunni tyrant we were in effect fighting Iran's war. Cheney's man Chalabi certainly knew this since he was apparently working for the Iranians at the time.
The biggest, and most disturbing, of these is the fact that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki seems to be losing whatever tenuous grip he holds on the reins of government. Boycotts of the Iraqi Parliament are threatened from almost every side, it seems -- Shi'ite, Sunni, and Kurd. As if this weren't bad enough, Maliki also faces an open revolt from within his own Dawa party. And at the same time he seems to be advocating kicking Petraeus out of his country.
While the story which the mainstream media seemed to pay attention to this week from Iraq was that the Iraqi Parliament was taking a month off for vacation (incidentally and completely ignoring the fact that our own American Congress -- and probably President Bush -- will also be taking the entire month off), the real story may be that the Iraqi Parliament may not even have a post-vacation government to come back to.
Unfortunately (since Bush reportedly had to be told what "Sunni" and "Shi'ite" actually meant, right before we invaded), our support was based solely on political expediency. At some point, it is assumed, someone explained the fact that Shi'ites were the people who ran the next-door government of Iran -- and ever since, our strong support for the Shi'ites has been somewhat fading.A little military success is meaningless.
Someone in the White House eventually realized that overthrowing Saddam in order to benefit Iran was probably not the best outcome of the war that the American people could hope for. After all, first we kicked the Taliban out of Afghanistan (removing a huge headache for next-door neighbor Iran), and then we removed Saddam from Iraq (also next-door to Iran, and whom the Iranians had actually fought a war against). Our entire military policy was actually benefiting Iran, and so the spin emanating from the White House began to change, a few months back.
The embarrassing facts "on the ground" were that most of the Iraqi Army (and virtually all of the Iraqi police) which we had so expensively trained, was actually sectarian Shi'ite. And these police were (at night) slipping out to become "death squads" who would deposit dozens upon dozens of Sunni dead bodies -- tortured with power drills, sometimes beheaded -- on the streets of Baghdad each and every morning.
And so, we will have enraged every single faction in Iraq, even the only one which liked us to begin with.
While most pundits will be focused this September on such tactical yardsticks as the number of bodies in Baghdad each morning and the number of U.S. military killed in the past month, it needs to be pointed out that these are merely tactical numbers. The larger picture is the overall strategy -- which, it appears on all fronts, we are losing.
So when you hear the reports this September, keep in mind that the most apt Vietnam analogy yet is the "strategic big picture." And in the immortal terminology from Vietnam, it can only be described as: a "clusterfuck."