Thirty Days of Night
AP military writer Robert Burns looks at Iraq. "The new U.S. military strategy in Iraq, unveiled six months ago to little acclaim, is working. In two weeks of observing the U.S. military on the ground and interviewing commanders, strategists and intelligence officers, it's apparent that the war has entered a new phase in its fifth year. It is a phase with fresh promise yet the same old worry: Iraq may be too fractured to make whole." Burns says that progress at the grassroots has not succeeded in bringing politicians together in Baghdad.
There is no magic formula for success. And magic is what it may take to turn military gains into the strategy's ultimate goal: a political process that moves Iraq's rival Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds from the brink of civil war to the threshold of peace—and to get there on a timetable that takes account of growing war fatigue in the United States.
Efforts at Iraqi reconciliation saw another blow Monday: Five Cabinet ministers loyal to Iraq's first post-Saddam Hussein leader decided to boycott government meetings, further deepening a crisis that threatens Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The boycott would leave the Shiite-led government with no Sunni participants, at least temporarily.
Despite political setbacks, American commanders are clinging to a hope that stability might be built from the bottom up—with local groups joining or aiding U.S. efforts to root out extremists—rather than from the top down, where national leaders have failed to act.
Iraq the Model has more details on the political infighting in Baghdad. In his apparent view the deadlock is driven by two political factions. One by a group of people who want to topple Maliki by embarassing him so that they might form a government themselves. The second is group of politicians who want to paralyze the government in order to embarass Washington and force an early withdrawal of US troops.
... two main factions can be identified as the cause of the deadlock: First there is the Accord Front. This bloc apparently trying through the withdrawal from the cabinet and preventing the passage of legislations by insisting on taking the recess to show that the government and particularly Maliki have failed. Their moving in this direction suggests that they are betting that by proving their point they will have a chance to oust Maliki and form a new government by joining forces with other opposition groups namely Allawi's bloc, the Dialogue Front since these two blocs supported the Accord's decision and Allawi's is even planning to follow the Accord's steps out of the cabinet. The Fadheela Party and some independent UIA members could be potential partners as well.
Second we have the pro-withdrawal anti-American factions in the parliament; mainly represented the Sadr bloc in addition to some radical elements from the UIA and a few from the two Sunni blocs who are not getting along well with the moderate wing in the bloc. These simply want to halt the legislative process at this point hoping that this would put more pressure on Washington to withdraw from Iraq.
Iraq the Model argues that this is setting up tension between the political class and the average man. In his apparent view the public mood is far more favorable to reconciliation than the politicians who are stonewalling for partisan gain and he is worried about how this tension will be resolved.
These developments show that a majority in our parliament care only about themselves and their blocs' interests much more than they do about the country's in such difficult time and their attitude tells that the blocs don't want to work together and don’t want to reconcile their differences. Like we always said, we don't need reconciliation among the people, we need reconciliation among the components of the political class and if they don't want to do this then I think the best solution to ensure a fresh political start would be to change the political class through early elections once the security situation allows for. And to do this Iraq will need the "surge" to continue for several months beyond September.
One thing makes me worried these days and I'm afraid that someone is planning a different bad solution. The rift between the minister of defense and the senior commanders including chief of staff of the army which led to a group resignation is an ominous sign that indicates a deep dispute between the two leaderships and this dispute seems to be over a political issue given their history in the military institution. It would be too early to speculate that someone is planning a coup-or preparing to crush one-at this point but the mere thought of it remains a little bit scary.
The one silver lining in this situation is that the tension is actually being caused by conflict between two parallel "realities". The reality in the field has been running in favor of the Coalition, at least if Robert Burns is to be believed. But the reality in the political halls has been running against. These two worlds are now in conflict. When one speaks of a "grassroots" rebellion in American or Western terms, it is easy to imagine a deluge of emails, letters to the editor, outraged phone calls and demonstrations before elected officials. But how is the tension between local organizations and central goverment officials in a country where there is very little previous tradition of local governance resolved? We are about to find out, or not find out, in the next 30 days.