Sunday, November 26, 2006

More Signs of Change in Iraq

I don't believe in saying I understand something better than I do so at this point I can share that it seems as though there are increasing signs of jockeying for power and possible realignment of alliances going on in Iraq, however, I don't know how to accurately judge the significance of these signs or predict the outcome. If one looks at recent posts of Juan Cole and Laura Rozen you may see what I mean. Cole reports:

Harith al-Dhari, Secretary-General of the Association of Muslim Scholars said in Cairo that the Arab League and the United Nations should withdraw their support from the Shiite-dominated government of PM Nuri al-Maliki.

This sounds like non-Iraqi Sunnis trying to weaken support for the Shia-dominated al Maliki government. Cole also reports:
Iraqi Speaker Mahmud al-Mashhadani recommended entrusting peshmargas with guarding members of the Iraqi Council of Representatives. Al-Mashhadani made his recommendation during the council's in camera session that discussed the members' safety, today 23 November 06. Al-Mashhadani's proposal comes following an unsuccessful assassination attempt against him in which his convoy was targeted by explosive devises.
For a long time the Kurdish militia, the Peshmerga, has wanted to be allowed by the Americans to be more involved in defeating the insurgency and increasing the power of the Kurds. Presumably the Americans wanted to do it without calling on militias representing only sub-groups within Iraq. This report makes it sound like the Kurdish Peshmerga may be called upon now to become more involved.

Moreover, Laura Rozen noted a newspaper report:
Followers of the militant Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr took over state-run television Saturday to denounce the Iraqi government, label Sunnis 'terrorists' and issue what appeared to many viewers as a call to arms. [...] Al-Maliki's administration acknowledged it was powerless to interrupt the pro-Sadr program on the official Iraqiya channel, during which Sadr City residents shouted, 'There is no government! There is no state!' Several speakers described neighborhoods and well-known Sunni politicians as 'terrorists' and threatened them with reprisal.
This sounds like further disintegration of the Iraqi central government's power and Sadrists, who have until recently been within the al Maliki coalition now calling for al Maliki's fall. As I said, what I sense in this is increased jockeying for power, possible disintegration of the central government's support, and the possibility of new power alignments within Iraq and among the surrounding states. This seems to have been accelerated by the American elections which makes it look to all as though potential changes in American policy might be imminent; thus Iraqi and regional groups are trying to get themselves in the strongest possible position.

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