Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Middle East, War on Terror — Rick Moran @ 9:06 am

This is the best news coming out of Iraq in months.

Realizing that current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is little more than an empty suit whose efforts to tamp down the sectarian violence tearing at the vitals of the country have failed miserably, the Bush Administration is trying to engineer a bloodless coup against the incompetent Prime Minister by shuffling the coalition of parties who are currently in the majority:

Major partners in Iraq’s governing coalition are in behind-the-scenes talks to oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid discontent over his failure to quell raging violence, according to lawmakers involved.

The talks are aimed at forming a new parliamentary bloc that would seek to replace the current government and that would likely exclude supporters of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is a vehement opponent of the U.S. military presence.

The new alliance would be led by senior Shiite politician Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, who met with President Bush last week. Al-Hakim, however, was not expected to be the next prime minister because he prefers the role of powerbroker, staying above the grinding day-to-day running of the country.

A key figure in the proposed alliance, Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a Sunni Arab, left for Washington on Sunday for a meeting with Bush at least three weeks ahead of schedule.

“The failure of the government has forced us into this in the hope that it can provide a solution,” said Omar Abdul-Sattar, a lawmaker from al-Hashemi’s Iraqi Islamic Party. “The new alliance will form the new government.”

Of course, there’s no guarantee that whoever they replace Maliki with will be any more competent. But the exciting part of this move is they are seeking to marginalize Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army by keeping him out of the government:

News of the bid to oust al-Maliki, in office since May, came amid growing dissent over his government’s performance among his Sunni and Shiite partners and the damaging fallout from a leaked White House memo questioning the prime minister’s abilities.

Washington also has been unhappy with al-Maliki’s reluctance to comply with its repeated demands to disband Shiite militias blamed for much of Iraq’s sectarian bloodletting.

Bush publicly expressed his confidence in al-Maliki after talks in Jordan on Nov. 30. But the president told White House reporters four days later that he was not satisfied with the pace of efforts to stop Iraq’s violence.

It was not immediately clear how much progress had been made in the effort to cobble together a new parliamentary alliance. But lawmakers loyal to al-Sadr who support al-Maliki were almost certainly not going to be a part of it. They had no word on al-Maliki’s Dawa party.

They said al-Maliki was livid at the attempt to unseat him.

This puts the leaking of the memo in a little different context, no? It’s no wonder that Maliki bristled at what was in Hadley’s report - he must have seen the writing on the wall. And it could even be that Bush gave him the bad news personally - which would explain his snubbing the President at dinner the night before their meeting.

The Dawa party is an important member of the ruling coalition, however, and it won’t be easy escorting Maliki to the door. But the new coalition will probably be able to cobble together support from enough members of that party to keep them in government.

The brilliance of this move however, is in what it does to our good friend Mookie al-Sadr.

If al-Sadr balks and uses his militia to start attacking American forces, he is going to wish he hadn’t. Twice now the United States military has handed the Mahdi army humiliating and devastating defeats. Twice, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani has interceded with his American friends to pull Sadr’s chestnuts out of the fire.

Since Sistani appears to have re-engaged politically by backing this move against al-Maliki, it could mean that he wishes to put the upstart Sadr in his place - or 6 feet under. Clearly the US now has Sadr in a box. If he fights, he loses. And if he acquiesces, he’s out of power and loses.

A win/win situation is a good thing for the US in Iraq. And this is the kind of thinking that was totally lacking from the ISG. This move is creative with definite thinking outside the box. It goes to show that there are in fact other options available to the US - options with a chance of turning the situation around relatively quickly.

However, having praised this move it should also be viewed with some trepidation. This move will essentially put the Badr Brigade in a very powerful position. Al-Hakim is the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) - a pro Iranian group with close ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The Badr Brigade is the armed wing of the party. Most of them were trained in Iran. This will open the question of how close the Iraqi government will be to Iran. Al-Sadr never trusted the Iranians, which displeased Ahmadinejad. But I think it’s safe to say that putting the SCIRI and the Badr’s in charge, there is a very real chance that the Shias will begin agitating for more autonomy in the south as well as escalate the violence already raging betwen Sadrites and the Badr Brigades.

Al-Hakim will not exactly be our new best buddy either. He has made it clear that he wants us out sooner rather than later. And Hakim has a reputation of using the Interior Ministry to settle party and militia business. Death squads and secret detention centers where Sunnis are routinely tortured and killed are a part of the Brigade’s profile. In short, we may be trading one gigantic headache for another.

But this move, if it pans out, is certainly welcome news. At the very least, it shows that the Administration is still engaged, still trying to come up with a solution that will allow us to leave. And it may just be the start of a turnaround in Baghdad that could go a long way toward establishing the rule of law in Iraq.


  1. It would be nice if the Iraqis could get their act together.

    Comment by gregdn — 12/11/2006 @ 9:34 am

  2. A win/win situation is a good thing for the US in Iraq. And this is the kind of thinking that was totally lacking from the ISG. This move is creative with definite thinking outside the box. It goes to show that there are in fact other options available to the US - options with a chance of turning the situation around relatively quickly.

    Well, this, if it’s indeed American initiative, not Iraqi’s own, is back-door politics. Not a thing to be put into official report. Talabini is complaining against ISG’s contempt for Iraqi sovereignty anyway.

    BTW, don’t you find it troubling that ISG is portrayed as “surrender” and “give a warm welcome to Iran & Syria” when it’s in fact exactly opposite?

    Comment by Nikolay — 12/11/2006 @ 11:59 am

  3. Maliki may be getting replaced in a bloodless coup? Well at least somebody’s doing SOMETHING. Then again, we should remember that Maliki was himself a replacement for Allawi. So now we’re looking for a replacement of the replacement? It’s beginning to sound like one of those jokes: how many prospective Iraqi leaders does it take to establish peace and democracy? Ah, well. Let’s hope that something works out.

    Comment by Johnny Tremaine — 12/11/2006 @ 7:49 pm

  4. If this turns out to be the case, it is good that we are finally getting around to taking on Al Sadr and his Mahdi army. Our goals for Iraq should be three fold. They should be: 1.)an Iraq that is allied with the US in the GWOT, 2.) an Iraq that is stable, and 3.)an Iraq that is a representative democracy. It appears goal number 3 has been abandoned for now. In any event, goal 3 was going to be up the Iraqis and is not mission critical to us. Achieving the first two goals are vital. Clearly having Al Sadr and his Mahdi army running around is inconsistent with achieving goals one and two. He and his army must either be removed or neutrailized. If this plan works out, it would go a long way to achieving goal 2 and it may even help with goal number 1.

    The broader goals need to be containing and rolling back the influence of Iran and Al Qaeda in Iraq and elsewhere in the world. Having an Iraq that is stable and allied with us in the GWOT should help us achieve the broader goals.

    With all of this said there does seem to be a problem. Through out the Global War on Terror the US has trouble, at least publically, identifying its enemies. At least publically, this may not have changed. If we end up strengthening the Badr Brigade, we may end up strengthening Iran. This could leave us in a worse position than we are now.

    In any event, right now we should focus on eliminating Al Sadr and his Mahdi Army. If we have to fight the Badr Brigades, we should deal with them, at that time. Obvuously we should plan for future battles and we should learn from previous battles but it is important to fight the current battle now and not the next one or the last one. I would like to think that the military commanders are competent enough to be planning ahead for a possible confrontation with the Badr Brigade.

    If we are going to finally do something about Al Sadr and the Mahdi army, this is an encouraging development. It is only a small step, there remains much work to be done but it is a steop in the right direction.

    Comment by B.Poster — 12/11/2006 @ 7:59 pm

  5. IDF report is declassified

    The Israeli Defense Forces report on this summer’s war has just been declassified. It makes for fascinating reading. Here’s a quick, illustrated summary.

    Trackback by Doug Ross @ Journal — 12/12/2006 @ 6:07 am

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