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 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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