WEEK 17 – 11 Mar 07: Every politician is taking a shot at Prime Minister Maliki.
Members of the United States Congress are bashing the Administration’s surge plan and threatening to limit future Operation Iraqi Freedom funding in order to convince the Government of Iraq and Prime Minister Mailiki it is time to get serious about fixing Iraq’s violence and economic problems. The US’s patience is wearing thin, says Congress, and is no longer interested in supporting an inept government or a possible proxy war between Shia and Sunni nations.
For their part, the Bush Administration is standing by its surge plan, but at the same time sponsoring Mr. Ayad Allawi’s visits to the Kurds. Ambassador Khalilizad accompanied Mr. Allawi, the former interim Prime Minister, to garner the Kurd’s support in joining a nationalist front. The Kurds have given a definite maybe.
On Wednesday, the Iraqi Accord Front and al-Iraqiya National List, Mr Allawi’s party, formed the Iraqi National Front BLOC aimed at countering the Prime Minister’s alleged sectarian government. The Fadilah Party pulled out of the United Iraqi Coalition and will likely align its seats with the Iraqi National Front BLOC. The Fadilah Party’s move may yet reinforce the idea that, as another Council Rep noted, they are ‘Fifteen Idiots’.
Al Qaeda’s car bombs and suicide bombs continue exploding throughout Baghdad in order to convince the populace that the government cannot protect them. These acts are intended to beckon a Shia retaliation that would reinforce the perception that the Prime Minister’s government is sectarian. Given their track record, however, Al Qaeda cannot be serious about convincing the populace it will treat them any better.
Everybody is trying to place the political and informational heat on the Prime Minister and his government: the collective ‘Death of a Thousand Cuts.’ He has responded with political and information maneuvers of his own by promising to shake up his cabinet. We’ll see if he does it this week as promised. If he does not, then his Wasta will only grow.
The PM has been all over the media promoting Fardh al Qanoon – the Baghdad Security Plan. He gave a strong speech at the Baghdad neighbor’s conference. He has started to engage the populace on the street. Despite all of the threats, all of the rhetoric, all of the pressure, Prime Minister Maliki is still standing.
The Baghdad Operations Command leadership is making a positive difference in Operation Fardh Al Qanoon as the Iraqi Security Forces are intimately involved in stabilizing the neighborhoods. The murders are going down even though the car bombs are not abating. General Aboud and his commanders have been out with their troops and the people. The people, in turn, have an ever increasing respect for the Iraqi Army. Ever so slightly, the Iraqi Police are earning respect.
Really, though, a government change will not likely get Al Qaeda under control for Al Qaeda answers to nobody. Nor will an ill-timed government change help sustain the momentum of Fardh Al Qanoon especially if it includes a military leadership change. Consequently, the cited political and informational maneuverings will likely not gain enough momentum to effect a change for at least six months and by then we should know if Fardh al Qanoon worked.
While it seemed the government was going to topple at the end of 2006, it is now less likely to happen. The Prime Minister is gaining political momentum with each passing day. He is demonstrating a guile we haven’t seen and may yet prove to be the guy who will pull this experiment through or at least get it through this phase of Fardh al Qanoon to set up the Republic for better days. The pressure will continue, but at a measured rate the Prime Minister can handle.