The Chief of Baghdad
Even the parliament failed to convene this week because less than 50 MPs showed up. One can also easily notice that traffic on the streets is not as heavy as it used to be and people are getting less interested in talking politics. Well, the harsh conditions and lack of activity could also be seen from the declining number of updates coming from the Iraqi bloggers in general! Living for many of us was reduced to existence long time ago; dreams and desires are shrinking under the heavy shadows of the situation. The government too looks exhausted trying to face all these crises under pressure from a community that is demanding quick solutions and unwilling to listen to the government's excuses.
Next, he describes how Maliki has cross-posted ethnic negotiators to their unnatural opposite numbers to get these countries off Iraq's back. These steps are some indication of the external complexity of the situation in Iraq.
The heads of the authorities have been busy touring the neighboring countries looking for support, the interesting thing about these visits is that the Sunni delegate (speaker of parliament) was sent to Shia Iran, the Shia PM went to the Sunni gulf countries and the Kurdish foreign minister of Iraq went to talk to the Turks! I like this distribution of roles, at least this way we can rest assured that the delegates will be negotiating for Iraq not against it!!
Foreign policy dealt with, Mohammed turns to the internal situation, which is no less complex. Maliki is trying to set up a comprehensive surrender or ceasefire among (Sunni?) insurgent groups, but the biggest faction is holding out.
Inside Baghdad, statements keep coming about the number of militant groups expressing interest in al-Maliki's reconciliation project and maybe the announcement of the National Dialogue minister Akram al-Hakeem when he said that the number was approaching 20 supports the idea that insurgents still want to make use of this amnesty opportunity. But then the minister adds that "all of these groups but one are of little significance on the ground and the only significant group preferred its name to be kept a secret for the time being…".
Moving to the other side of the aisle, Sadr is trying to set his organization up as the Iraqi version of Hamas by creating an independently powerful base which can veto anything the regularly constituted government decides upon.
... there are rumors here that the SCIRI and Sadrists are determined to bring down al-Maliki. The Sadrists in particular are deliberately embarrassing the government in this regard by behaving like government and rebels at the same time and I think I find them pretty close to Hamas who's also lost their way between being government and remaining as "resistance".
In related news, yesterday Sadr announced the shutting down all his offices in Iraq and said this was to protest the government's slow work in rebuilding the golden dome of Samarra, meanwhile there are other news talking about rifts among the ranks of the Sadr militia itself and I suspect inclusion of the names of two "renegades" from the Sadr trend in the most wanted list lately announced by the government supports this news ... I see we're facing an Iraqi version of Hamas here; one foot in the cabinet and the other in the insurgents' trench ...
We are introduced to a new and possibly competent Shi'ite commander who can complement the inept Sadr's religious appeal.
But the news circulating in Baghdad doesn't speak only of those two but is also focuses around a new rising name in the world of militias; that's Abu Diri'. Abu Diri' (whose first name is believed to be Salim) is a member of the Mehdi Army and gained the nickname which means 'the armor bearer' after he murdered an MNF soldier and seized his body armor during one the Sadrists battles against the MNF. Ever since that day he wears the body armor and never puts it away. People say this man commands hundreds (or thousands in some accounts) of "former" Mehdi army soldiers. The story of Abu Diri' describes him as the killer of Sunnis and suggests that his role is confined to doing a 'Shia body count' after each terror attack on Shia areas and then kidnapping and murdering an equal number of Sunnis.
In summary Mohammed concludes:
The situation isn't nice at all and al-Maliki's cabinet is going to face a very rough summer.
Maliki's central difficulty is that all his tools are simultaneously his biggest problems. He must use the Sunnis (with whom he has difficulties) against the Shi'ite militias and vice versa to produce an outcome conducive to neither. He must extract the blood-sucking tentacles which have snaked in across borders everywhere from the dessicated corpus of Iraqi society -- with the help of other similarly voracious suckers. America was not the only one invading Iraq in the days before, during and after OIF. And Maliki must accomplish all this with only his own wits and the limited help of a gigantic infidel ally with real political limits.
From Maliki's point of view Iraq is a national problem with international complications. Looked at from the outside, however, Iraq can also be viewed as the particular expression of a regional and possibly global conflict. Going by Mohammed's account, Maliki is apparently facing his problems with a clearer strategic vision than the "international community", though perhaps that is more apparent than real.