Thursday, November 30, 2006

Some Experts Critique Stephen Hadley's 'Leaked' Memo

In an interesting article by reporters for McClatchy Newspapers some experts were asked for their views on the feasibility of policy suggestions made by NSC advisor Stephen Hadley which was 'leaked' just before Bush met with al Maliki. Here are some of their views:
Trying to push anti-U.S. Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr out of the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as the memo suggests, would be throwing gasoline on a fire, they said. Sadr's party is the largest in parliament, with 32 seats, and Maliki became prime minister only with his support. Sadr's Mahdi Army militia controls large parts of Baghdad and southern Iraq, and many Iraqi Shiites hail him as their only protection from attacks by rival Sunni Muslims, which American and Iraqi forces have failed to stop. 'Sadr is aware of the considerable extent to which his forces ... constitute a significant part of the power in the streets, and there is no reason why he would simply want to surrender that leverage,' said Paul Pillar, the former top U.S. intelligence analyst on the Middle East.
And again:
Trying to force Sadr out of the government - in which his followers control some of the key ministries - and crack down on his militia almost certainly would lead to the government's collapse. It also would ignite a wave of violence by his militia and supporters in Baghdad and the Shiite-dominated south, much of it probably aimed at the U.S.-led multinational force. 'Sadr is not going to rein in the Mahdi Army,' said Vali Nasr of the Naval Postgraduate School, in Monterey, Calif., and the author of a new book on modern political Shiism.
On a second Hadley suggestion:
Hadley suggested that Maliki overhaul his Cabinet by replacing key members of Shiite and Sunni religious parties with "nonsectarian, capable technocrats." But the Iraqi Constitution requires that new ministers be approved by two-thirds of parliament, a vote that Sadr could block. A Cabinet shakeup also would unravel the power-sharing deal on controlling the ministries that took the religious parties months to negotiate. "The ministries are run like fiefdoms," Nasr said. "Most ministers don't even come to Cabinet meetings."
On a third Hadley suggestion:
Experts also were skeptical of a Hadley proposal that the United States provide "monetary support" for forming a new coalition of moderate Shiite, Sunni and ethnic Kurdish parliamentarians to keep Maliki in power if he's unable to cut loose from Sadr. Several experts wondered what moderates Hadley was referring to. Moreover, such an alliance would require Maliki to forge stronger bonds with Sadr's chief rival, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim. He's the head of another Shiite party that belongs to the ruling coalition and whose militia maintains even closer ties to the Islamic regime of neighboring Iran than the Mahdi Army does. Finding Sunnis to join such a grouping would be impossible, because Hakim has been a leading proponent of purging members of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from the bureaucracy and the military, Nasr said.
Maliki already has tried unsuccessfully to implement some of Hadley's ideas, several experts noted. These include attempts to purge the police and Interior Ministry of sectarian death squads and to disarm militias. Phebe Marr, a leading U.S. expert on Iraq, said that some of the more modest ideas that Hadley proposed in the memo - such as appointing technocrats to the government and cleaning up the Interior Ministry - were achievable. "I think these small steps can be done. I think Maliki is doing them. But we have very different perceptions of time and timetable," Marr said, referring to growing political pressure in the United States to withdraw troops. As for a "spectacular breakthrough" from the Iraqi government in the near future, "forget it," she said.
Stephen Hadley's 'leaked' memo can be seen here.

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