Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Fertile Crescent

Yesterday, the Sunni Vice President in the new Maliki-led government, Tariq al-Hashimi, called for the Sunni-led insurgency to be crushed by force. Today, Tariq al-Hashimi's sister was gunned down in a Baghdad as she was leaving her home. From MSNBC:

Mayson Ahmed Bakir al-Hashimi, 60, whose brother, Tariq al-Hashimi, was appointed by parliament as vice president Saturday, was killed by unidentified gunmen in a sedan as she was leaving her southwestern Baghdad home with her bodyguard, said police Capt. Jamel Hussein. The bodyguard, Saad Ali, also died, Hussein said.

This is the second tragedy to hit al-Hashimi's family:

It was the second recent killing in Tariq al-Hashimi's immediate family. On April 13, his brother, Mahmoud al-Hashimi, was shot while driving in a mostly Shiite area of eastern Baghdad.

The article provides some background information on al-Hashimi's recent political/rhetorical maneuvers that most likely made him and his family a target of insurgent violence.

On Wednesday, Tariq al-Hashimi called for Iraq's insurgency to be put down by force. Shiites had demanded that Sunni officials make such a statement as a show of their commitment to building a democratic system.

Al-Hashimi also shrugged off a video released this week by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, during which the al-Qaida in Iraq leader tried to rally Sunnis to fight the new government and denounced Sunnis who cooperate with it as 'agents' of the Americans.

'I say, yes, we're agents. We're agents for Islam, for the oppressed. We have to defend the future of our people,' al-Hashimi said at a news conference with President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and his fellow vice president, Shiite Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

All three Iraqi leaders met with Rice and Rumsfeld on Wednesday.

On Thursday, al-Hashimi met with Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in the holy city of Najaf.

At the risk of stating the obvious, forming political accords across ethnic/sectarian divides will be near impossible unless political leaders such as al-Hashimi can make such gestures without fearing for their lives, and the lives of family members. Without improved security, insurgents and miliprovocateursovacateurs will have the ability to negatively influence, if not scuttle, any such attempts at rapprochement.

Yet without a broad-based, inclusive political framework - that includes making significant amendments to controversial sections of the constitution - the security situation will likely deteriorate, or at least remain in its present poor condition.

It's an all too familiar knot. Iraq has become the fertile crescent of Catch-22's.

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