Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Kind of Blue
Given that the alternative to Jaafari (of the Dawa party) most commonly mentioned is Abdel Mahdi (SCIRI), I find it curious that the US would draw the line in the sand with Jaafari - unless they hope, in the end, to usurp Mahdi as well (Allawi anyone?).Well, it turns out that our backroom deal with SCIRI - the would-be usurpers of Jaafari - might actually be the bait and switch I alluded to above. From the annoyingly prescient Swopa, we learn that the stalemate over the formation of a new Iraqi government has led to some disturbing chatter about a deus ex machina type strongman emerging to restore order. The LA Times reported on Sunday [emph. mine throughout]:
Some reasons why Mahdi would be an odd choice as replacement - at least if it were necessary to expend valuable negotiating capital to achieve such a result: (a) Mahdi's party, SCIRI, is likely closer to Iran than Dawa/Jaafari; (b) SCIRI's militia, the Badr Corps, was trained by Iran, with many members spending years in exile in Iran following the Shiite uprising circa Gulf War I; (c) Badr has been an active presence in the security forces and military (controversial Interior Minister Bayan Jabr is SCIRI), and are believed to be responsible for many of the atrocities uncovered in recent months - much of which has been blamed on Jaafari; and (d) SCIRI, unlike Jaafari, supports the establishment of semi-autonomous regions in the Shiite south - an issue likely to alienate and anger most Sunnis, though placate the Kurds (this is why Kurdish support for Mahdi is easier to grasp).
The clerics also want to prevent the formation of a "salvation" government as proposed Saturday by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, the official said.
. . . Allawi, a onetime CIA protege and leader of a secular coalition with 25 seats in parliament, said in a statement broadcast on Iraqi television that political leaders might have to create an emergency government "that is capable of bringing Iraq to its feet and save it from its current deadly crisis."
Interesting maneuver, but surely SCIRI would rather allow Jaafari to retain the prime minister's office than see Allawi take over in the wake of the neutering of the UIA, no? SCIRI's desire to marginalize Moqtada al-Sadr (who played kingmaker to Jaafari's candidacy) would most likely take a back seat to the broader UIA interest of maintaining control over the government that the UIA was democratically empowered to lead (a point that will be emphasized by Sistani and other UIA members) . And since the UIA has such a big bloc in parliament, game over. Right? Wrong. It appears that the oft rhapsodized, democractically infused shade of purple that stained Iraqi fingers on election day has slid further down the ROYGBIV spectrum.
Such a government could include political groups that didn't win seats in the election and be based on a political agreement rather than the constitution, said Adnan Pachachi, a leading politician in Allawi's coalition.
. . . "It would be a genuine, effective partnership between all the political forces in the country," Pachachi said in an interview. "It would not necessarily be based on the results of the election, which we do not think reflected the voters' will, anyway."
Aha. So, the elections didn't really reflect the will of the voters. Now these selfless and disinterested parties will just put together a government without the elected parties/officials - at least those that won't cooperate with their mission. But the new imposed government will reflect the real will of the people (wink, wink). Or something like that. Stop me if you think that you've heard this one before. I'm sure Osama and the gang are quaking in their boots right now at the prospect of this awe-inspiring, domino-tilting, terrorism-eradicating brand of democracy that is so clearly on the march.
The LA Times on Monday offered some further evidence of these troubling developments (again via Swopa):
With sectarian killings increasing and more and more people forced to move into Sunni or Shiite enclaves for protection, some wonder if the politicians have already missed the chance to tackle the violence.
"I don't care if the government is established," said an unemployed 22-year-old Christian woman in Baghdad who would give her name only as Miss Kapchy. "I am not excited about it because I don't expect this government will do anything for us, just as the previous government did not achieve anything for Iraqis.
"I want the prime minister to be a dictator, authoritative and have all the elements of power because it's been chaos since the fall of the ex-regime."
"They have failed the people," Kurdish lawmaker [Mahmoud] Othman said of the politicians.
"People want somebody to be the boss here. If one night an officer makes a coup d'etat, in the morning everybody would be happy.
"They want somebody to save them," he said. "Anything short of Saddam and his group."
Well, anything "short of Saddam and his group" and the religious Shiite parties - apparently. Because resistance to the notion of a UIA-dominated government is what's holding this process up and fomenting this crisis. I'm thinking that right about now, SCIRI might be feeling a bit played. I wouldn't be surprised to see them abandon their anti-Jaafari campaign in the near future and hop on board team Shiite's bus again in order to stave off all this talk of 'welcomed coups' and the secret, hidden will of the people for candidates/parties/dictators other than the ones they voted for.
In a previous post discussing Allawi's bold words concerning the state of civil war in Iraq, I cautioned that:
Allawi may still be auditioning for a job as "The Strongman Who Can Bring Peace" so he might not be a completely disinterested party.
Now that we see that Allawi is, in fact, still reading for the part, the question remains: who is in charge of central casting? Zal Khalilzad or Sistani? If I had to bet, given the relative power to compel Iraqis to act, I'd say the latter. So barring a second US military-imposed regime change in Iraq, I don't expect Allawi to get the part that he so covets. And if he does, and the UIA reacts with expected resistance to what would be viewed as the "second betrayal," the movie could end up being more of a disaster than Ishtar. This is one time that I would rather you not pass the popcorn.