Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Iraqi Political Realignments

Iraq the Model describes a frenzy of political activity in Iraq. "The political scene in Iraq these days is registering a level of activity like we haven’t seen since right after the elections, when the blocs squabbled over who got to be the new premier. Political alliances are being redrawn right now —and three developments are shaping the change and dominating local news headlines at stories of violence’s expense."


I don't know how to interpret the changes taking place in Baghdad, but I may have accidentally anticipated it. In a recent post called the Iraqi Security Plan, I wrote that one major unstated purpose of the Surge was to affect the course of local politics. As I was participating in the blogger roundtable with General Caldwell, this rogue idea went through my head and found its way into the post:

One item that skimmed past in the discussion but which deserved more attention was how early in the game this really was. Although the Iraqi government is legally four years old, in actuality it has only been in existence for several months. There have been four major changes in the Iraqi government leadership since its re-establishment and we are in its latest incarnation and this underscores not only the volatility of the political situation but the deep interaction between the military effort and politics in the campaign in Iraq. Although no one mentioned it in discussion, the thought went through my head (and it's my personal opinion) that the current security plan cannot be fully understood without calculating its intended effect on Iraqi politics. Though no one of course would put it that way. In other words, the current security effort will have an effect not only on the military balance on the ground, but equally importantly, on the political composition of the Iraqi government and on US public opinion.

I believe the Nancy Pelosi approach of threatening to weaken America on the ground in order to achieve changes in Iraqi politics is the wrong one. My intuition is that the precise opposite should be attempted -- that strengthening the position on the ground is likely to effect reform. Now if any posters could help to interpret the changes that Omar is describing (he goes into it at length) then we can assess whether recent military efforts are being reflected in changes within the Iraqi political system and get some indicators on which line of thinking is correct.


Blogger Boghie said...

It sounds like a center is forming in Iraqi politics - one NOT completely bound by 'blood feud' oaths - or whatever.

The 30 seat swing from Shiite based party to a secular party that results in 80+ seats under Allawi is a huge change.

If a democratic process survives the wings provide stark ideas and the center governs

3/08/2007 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger 10ksnooker said...

It's possible that the surge has proven al-Maliki was protecting Sadr and his militia ... the people knew it, hence triggering the changes.

As if no one had figured Sadr was trying to do in Iraq what Nasrallah had done in Lebanon.

3/08/2007 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Harrison said...

I've just posted the possibility of political manoeuvres regarding the recent dynamics you just described, wretchard. Perhaps you would take a look; interested to hear your thoughts.

3/09/2007 12:29:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

So it seems that the nationalist groups without (strong) sectarian agendas are negotiating an alliance to outflank UIA, including a UIA splinter group? Well, that's good. Without a major move against Sadr, however, the problem will remain Sadr-Maliki. I've ranted about killing Sadr for long enough, but the cautious opposition that counsels leaving him alone has never generated a single victory towards the mollification of the militia-terrorist war - not a goddamn one. Al-Sadr is not President Diem; the State Department calculations are wrong again, however. With this opportunity, if the USAF do not take it, I wash my hands of this ridiculous mess and vote for pulling back to other bases. The view that we are in a position to out-wit, bribe or otherwise cajole or coerce these extraordinarily myopic and perverse barbarians into doing anything remotely adult is to participate in that exact mindset. Sadr should be assassinated; his army should be provoked into confrontation; recalcitrant Sunni sheiks should be slaughtered along with their relevant families. Everyone has had more than enough time to declare their allegiance; indulging this "well we need AK47s and RPGs because X, Y, Z has them" will never be overcome. We know who they are. We know where they are. These people are intent on waiting forever. Anyone who doubts that these Arabs want us to simply destroy whomever is responsible and then install and support a government, as the Pentagon planned long ago, is a rank moron. If they do not have enough intellectual independence to free themselves from the centripital force of their traditions, as they have shown they do not, they are not going to suddenly learn it while being continually presented with every opportunity to say "see? why do you think we think this way?" Do not imprison the malefactors: kill them. Apparently the tac we must take is to deny them every possible opportunity to dissent from the move toward reconciliation, because they will otherwise take it, no matter the cost. Even if this coalition comes to fruition, and commands enough resources and determination to win legal battles and political maneuvors, it will remain irrelevant in the face of the militias' ability to operate more or less freely. The first step needs to be an extraordinarily ruthless disarming campaign, Period. All who resist will be liquidated, immediately. That will have the helpful effect of identifying insurgents; it will become their uniform, so to speak. If it is the world's opinion that such methods are totalitarian and perverse, it is the world that is perverse, and it can go fuck itself, as it has already been doing in any case. Apparently large numbers of Iraqis of whatever confession have responded gratefully to US/Iraqi forces' efforts to clear out and protect towns comandeered by jihadis, suggesting a disarmament campaign, as the opening salvo of a national reconciliation campaign, will be met with general approval. If this coalition is formed, it must be assisted in a major attack on the UIA, which is any case merely Sadrist and revanchist at this point. It must be out-manuvored. And then it must be splintered, and then the militias must be confronted with force and destroyed. Everything must work likea funnel toward this confrontation. Opportunities to abscond from the plan must be denied at every turn. The wall that guards and guides the path should be a hail of bullets. It would also be nice if we stop so cordially informing the press of our every intention and engage in a little more bliztzkrieg - for example, the recent reports that Diyala province will be the target of heavy activity by... June. Ah good. Well, at least they won't have a couple months to prepare for that. We must stop being afraid that our applications of violence will only beget more violence. We have tried the other way, and its has gotten us only steaming piles of pigshit.

3/09/2007 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Nihimon said...

sentences... paragraphs... please.

3/09/2007 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Grey said...

Al-Sistani is a great and important man in Iraq, and a strong, implicit, US ally.

But in calling for Shia "unity", he is wrong, even anti-democratic. Group unity is for minorities, united against a gov't imposition that is counter to the group (whether racial, ethnic, sexual; or even occupational). The united minority opposition prevents the "bad" (anti-group) policy. But it doesn't say what the resolution should be.

When alternative "should be" visions are presented, there is an obvious split. Which ideal is better? Which person's implementation is more likely to have good results? (With good implementation almost always better than good ideal).

The Shiites need to fracture into various groups to reflect their ability to choose what to build in Iraq. And where there's disagreement, there will be political losers.

3/09/2007 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger daublin said...

Two things, just based on reading ITM.

First, boghie's interpretation looks correct: Allawi's bloc is secular and centrist, and having a large party leave the shia bloc and possibly join Allawi's is huge.

Second, there is local politics to think about as well. Lower-level leaders are not going to be moved by great vision of Iraq. They care a lot about the groups they lead, and if democracy is to win out, the lower level leaders need to believe that the central democratic government is not only fair, but that it will survive and be effective.

The quoted article is on the first topic. ITM also has articles on the second issue. It's a great site to read if you are rooting for the democrats, or are otherwise wondering what an Iraqi democrat thinks and observes.

3/10/2007 11:43:00 AM  

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