Part of President Bush’s plan to ignore the ISG and the will of the American people involves crafting a political arrangement with the “moderate center” parties in Iraq. As promised in my previous post from this morning, here is a look at the main ones. Good luck finding that moderate center.
United Iraqi Alliance – A Shi’a group that currently controls 46.5% of the seats in parliament. It’s membership list features such media darlings as Moqtada Al-Sadr, and CIA liar Ahmed Chalabi. It also features Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Islamic Revolution party (backed by Iran). With nearly enough control to run the government on it’s own, and an association with some of the problems, not the solutions in Iraq, These don’t seem like the moderate center…they’re part of the problem.
Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan – The second largest seat holder in the Iraqi Parliament. The Administration already has a good working relationship with this group. However, with only 19% of the seats in parliament, it will take some serious brokering with other groups to get a majority.
It just gets worse from here, the next two groups are Iraqi Accord Front a Sunni Islamist group (44 seats 16%) and Iraqi National List a secular group comprised of both Sunni and Shi’a (25 seats 9%).
What follows in the parliament is a group of eight ideologically diverse groups whose voting block would only add up to 25 seats (9%). So let’s do some math. Who can work with whom to make some kind of block to the Shi’a islamists? It would take all of them.
One thing working in the President’s favor with this plan is that of the three main groups controlling the government in Iraq one is already on his side, the Kurds. That’s a good start. Certainly, within the Shi’a and Sunni groups there must be some moderates. The question is, are there enough moderates within those coalitions to effectively split the groups?
Of the parties that make up the UIA, there are 6 primary seat holders. Many of the names will be familiar to most Americans who have been keeping up with conditions in Iraq.
The Badr Organization is the armed wing of SCIRI. These two groups constitute the largest single block of the UIA coalition. Backed by Iran and armed to the teeth, it seems unlikely that either group would find any significant gains in this group. Establishing an agreement with either would be tantamount to talking to Iran, and would probably just fracture the organization creating an even bigger problem.
The Sadarist Movement, headed by Shi’a cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, is the second largest group in the coalition. Since the beginning of the new political process there have been tensions between the US and his movement. At one point, his capture or death was military goal. His followers have supposedly disarmed, but the continuing violence in the area calls this claim into question. There is no way in hell that the military would go along with this guy.
The Islamic Virtue Party is a shoot-off of the Sadrist Movement, however they are rivals. In May of this year they pulled out of the government citing American interference. Not a likely ally.
The Islamic Dawa Party, is one of the oldest Shi’a parties in Iraq. Founded in the 50’s to combat all that is secular, communist and Sunni, it went to war against the Ba’thists that was quashed. This group also has ties to Iran, providing the safe haven for the Ayatollah Khomeini prior to the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Dawa leaders split with Iran in the 80’s as the result of a doctrine dispute. They have engaged in many acts of terrorism including attempted assassinations and bombings, and had a role in the Iran-Contra affair. Sounds like a no.
So if militant Shi’a’s aren’t the gooey middle, why not militant Sunni’s?
The Iraqi Accord Front consists of 3 Sunni groups; The General Council for the People of Iraq, Iraqi Islamic Party, and Iraqi National Dialogue Council. Due to the nature of politics in Iraq, there is not much known about these three groups. The Iraqi Islamic Party is the oldest of the three, established in 1960, but was pushed underground during Saddam Hussein’s reign.
Ok, I’m going to stop here. There’s really no point in going on. The remaining groups, who are not currently friendly with each other or the US government don’t provide enough political power to accomplish anything but pissing the others off. Here’s my question; does the US government REALLY want to try and negotiate with all of these groups, many of whom are sworn enemies, as opposed to talking to the countries that are supporting them? Are we really that dumb?
It is hard for me to believe that a government, that has so many ties to big money, cannot see that the best way to affect these militant Islamic groups is through their pocketbooks. One of the administration’s arguments in this whole thing is that outside elements are amplifying the problem. By negotiating with the governments who are funding and arming these groups we stand the best chance of stemming the wave of violence. Since the beginning of the occupation we have sought to weaken these groups through military action and by trying to build coalitions and that hasn’t worked. Gee, that sounds a lot like the “new” plan.
With the resignation of the Saudi Ambassador to the US, after the recent weekend getaway Cheney had with the Saudi’s, and the increasing saber rattling from Iran, it would seem that there isn’t much hope. The nations of the region have picked sides and any further degradation of conditions in Iraq, or the spill over of violence into neighboring countries would provoke their involvement, a situation that would most certainly result in a regional war.
Iran, being largely Shi’a will side with the majority of the Iraqi population. Iran already has strong ties with the majority of the current coalition government and could mobilize quickly. The Iranian army is battle tested, and any provocative movement from outside Iraq will be met with swift resistance.
The Saudi’s and the Syrians are both aligned with the Sunni’s. The Sunni population is somewhere below 20% of Iraqi’s. This population lives in one of the most sparsely populated area of Iraq. Most of the territory occupied by the Sunni’s lies on the border of Saudi Arabia and Syria. The Saudi’s will probably get their asses handed to them even if the Syrians work with them.
Our first goal NOW should be to avert a regional war then stabilize Iraq. Talking to all the neighbors is the best way to do this. A regional war will bring the deaths of tens of thousands of more Iraqi’s and will make our current casualty count triple as we either retreat, or dig in and get caught in the crossfire.
What’s the disconnect here? In a previous post I noted that the President, having lost his rubber stamp Congress in the recent election may not be willing to swallow the hard pill of defeat that Iraq has become. But is this president so hard headed and single minded that he can’t see the similarity in his former “stay the course” policy and this “new direction”. It’s madness.
As much as I don