The Iraq parliament finally over came opposition from Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani and voted to allow non-American troops to remain in Iraq until July. The speaker had resigned in a dispute over several issues including the notorious shoe thrower. Great Britain’s contingent of 4,000 will be allowed to remain until the spring when they will all be sent back to England. American troops are allowed to remain until 2011 under a special agreement reached a few weeks ago. In a separate issue, the Iraq government admitted there never had been a plot to overthrow the government as it claimed several days ago.
The agreement clarifies a murky situation in which British troops technically could not remain in Iraq after January 1st. All accused of being involved in the alleged plot were released on bail.
The great unknown is will Iraq degenerate into squabbling factions and religious groups as they assume greater control over their nation’s destiny.
Prime Minister Maliki undoubtedly has learned from his colleague, George Bush, that nothing beats creating a plot or conspiracy in order to get rid of adversaries. Up to 25 Iraqi officials are reportedly being held on charges of planning a coup that would restore the Basthist party of Saddam Hussein to power. According to Patrick Cockburn reporting from Baghdad, those detained by a counter-terrorism unit that reports directly to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki includes a general and a host of minor officials. The plotters allegedly had formed a group known as al-Awda, or the Return, to signify restoration of Baath power. Some of the members of the coup belong to the traffic police, undoubtedly a major source of military strength.
Maliki is attempting to consolidate power, particularly after he confronted forces of al-Sadr and forced them to back down. He may fear that many people would, in light of corruption and failure to even restore basic services such as electricity, turn to some military strongman and restore the glory that was Saddam. As American forces prepare to depart, Maliki wants to get rid of any group that might challenge his power.
Who knows, perhaps, five years from now, US forces will be invading Iraq to get rid of the strongman, Maliki.
Prime Minister of Iraq is still furious at the United Kingdom for what he believes is its failure to crush the forces of his enemy, Moqtada al-Sadr. Britain’s troops were supposed to begin withdrawing in March, 2009 and, most probably, many will be sent as reinforcements to UK troops fighting in Afghansitan. Maliki has refused to even hold discussions with Britain until after the Iraq parliament has ratified the agreement with America regarding evacuation of its forces. If Iraq fails to negotiate an evacuation process with England, their troops in Iraq after December 31, 2008 will not be covered by any legal process.
The fiasco over the status of British troops in Iraq is simply one more episode in the disastrous operation in Iraq that began when Bush invaded the country searching for WMD that did not exist. Mailiki is angry British forces did not assist in the summer of 2007 efforts of his government to crush al-Sadr. Of course, British soldiers have died fighting for the Mailiki government, but, such is the way of things in Iraq.
Posted in Human Rights, Iraq, Iraq War, Military, Multicultural, Politics, UK, War, World News
Tagged British soldiers, Iraq, UK evacuation
The government of Iraq is urging the new Obama administration to attempt a new approach and enter into discussions with both Iran and Syria. Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the Iraq government said: “I call on the new administration to open dialogue with Iran to resolve the exceptional problems which are affecting stability in the region.” Prime Minister Maliki’s government even offered to assist in creating conditions for dialogue. “Whether the US would llike Iraq to initiate tht dialogue with Syria we are ready.” The bottom line for Iraq is to ensure there is dialogue between the United States and Iran in order to end the turmoil which now causes so mush terrorism.
There is no evidence that George Bush’s approach of war, war, and bombing has resulted in anything other than creating thousands of new terrorists and causing new area of complete disruption. Obama hinted during the campaign he was open to the idea of having discussions without preconditions and hopefully, he has not changed his mind on that point. As the great British prime minister Winston Churchill used to say: “Jaw, jaw, not war, war.”
Posted in Asia, Barack Obama, George Bush, Human Rights, Iran, Iraq, Multicultural, Muslims, Peace, Politics, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged Iran, Iraq, Syria, US dialogue
Most American attention has focused on relations between the United States and the Iraq government as they hammer out the last pieces of the security pact, but trouble may well be arising in other areas of Iraq that have nothing to do with the American presence. In recent weeks, Kurdish leaders in the north have clashed with Prime Minister Maliki over his plans to assist the Supporting Councils which are made up of pro-government tribal leaders. The Kurds believe Maliki is attempting to create an Arab presence in Kurdish regions in order to gain greater power, particularly over oil in the region. President Massoud Barzani warned Maliki “this is playing with fire.”
Maliki is furious that Kurdish leaders function as an autonomous government in northern regions of Iraq and even are negotiating with foreign oil companies. Last month, the Iraqi army came close to an armed clash with the Kurdish Peshmerga units which, in effect, are a separate army that protects Kurdish territory against Iraqis. The Washington Post recently reported three planeloads of arms from Bulgaria were flown into Kurdish areas. Maliki is also worried that Kurdish leaders will form an alliance with Sunnis to block his government from extending its power into certain areas of the country.
Of course, both Turkey and Iran have large Kurdish minorities and they will become upset if the Kurds extend their power within Iraq.
Posted in Human Rights, Iraq, Iraq War, Islam, Military, Multicultural, Muslims, Peace, Politics, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged Iraq, Kurds, Maliki government
President elect Barack Obama most probably will announce the appointment of Robert Gates to be his Secretary of Defense. This decision will undoubtedly lead to complaints by many people who believed in electing Obama they were sending a message the current leaders of our Iraq-Afghanistan policy had to be replaced. However, there is some logic in the decision to retain a moderate Republican in office given that he has moved sharply away from previous behaviors by Donald Rumsfeld. Gates has made clear he is open to discussions with a variety of leaders in the Middle East and understands the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan can not be won solely by reliance on military action.
The key point in selecting Gates must be the acceptance by the secretary of defense that he now serves the Obama administration and must be in accord with its goals. If he can work in this manner, his retention adds a sense of continuity in what is going right as well as a recognition there must be change in the coming months. The first point will be whether or not US troops begin withdrawing next year and continue that process in the following year. The goal must be 2011 for the majority of soldiers being out of Iraq.
Posted in 2008 Elections, Barack Obama, Democrats, George Bush, Human Rights, Military, Multicultural, Peace, Politics, Republicans, United States, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged Afghanistan, Gates, Iraq, Obama
Seven long years ago, American military forces went into combat in Afghanistan and five years ago, they entered Iraq in a war that supposedly would be over in a few weeks. Year after year, troops have been under fire, been blown up by roadside bombs, and never have known a moment’s peace. Admiral Mike Muller, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made clear his concern about stress. “we see extraordinary stress and pressure,” but insisted “we’re not about to break.” He does not see any possibility tours of duty will be reduced from 12 months.
Former general barry McCaffrey, who recently retired, visited troops in combat and discovered there simply were not enough troops in Afghanistan to maintain high levels of operational efficiency. At some point, the question must be raised, when is enough, not enough? Are American troops to be asked to continue fighting another seven years?
Posted in Asia, George Bush, Human Rights, Iraq War, Military, Multicultural, Politics, Republicans, United States, US Foreign Policy, Veterans, War, World News
Tagged Afghanistan, Iraq, military stress, Mullen