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16 August 2005

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angela

2 points where the delegates are "all Iraqis"

- We tried to pressure them to make an agreement and in many areas to do so on our terms. Pride and simple political survival means that there would be defacto resistance and being skilled in these things they played us along to the end, getting our ambassador to express confidence that the deal would be made. Reminds me of the insurgents who start popping bombs when some of our spokespeople announce that the bombing have decreased or escalate attacks on our troops when we announce that such attacks have decreased. They as a people enjoy making us appear fools. Can't say I totally blame them.

- I am certain right now that every party to the agreement knows our desperation to have this thing done. This means they can bargain and assert pressures. As with asserting their independance they have a shared interest in making things difficult, in upping the negotiation pressure on us.


This doesn't mean that I discount the very real differences between various parties, but only that we've gotten ourselves into a position where "game theory" further encourages some very hard players to delay and cause difficulties.

I do however think that it is possible an agreeement will be made because I suspect most of the participants take this about as seriously as most third world politicians take pieces of paper. Agreements mean little, Kurdish and Shiite autonomy and all sorts of other things are mantained by militias. One can still throw acid in the face of unveiled women even if it's technically illegal. And anyone who thinks the mafias running all sorts of places are going to say, "oh gee a newly elected set of represenatives is now in charge and it's our duty to lay down our guns, evacuate the police forces and throw flowers at our new democracy," well if you believe that please post your name because I have some wonderful investments to sell you.

However if we sweeten the deal enough everyone might play "let's pretend." But they have no incentive to make this easy. Their interest is to rough us up a bit so we remember who is the boss and to extort as much as possible. My guess is one or 2 more rewrites of the constittion would be necessary to get us into the optimal state of total desperation still fused with a bit of hope. At that point everyone can appear on TV with huge smiles and the dreamed for rise in the president's poll numbers can occur. Victory!

J

Colonel,

'grudges' run 'deep'. the kurds would rather jettison and become an independent nation (they been trying and trying for years), then you'd have turkey entering the fray if they did. you have the shia who want their wealth back, remember they are shia 'arabs', not persians. then you have the sunnis who 'were' used to controlling everything for so many years are now the 'odd man out', and they hate it.
what we have is a 'volatile' mix becoming a simmering cauldron.

ismoot

J

I am not impressed by the "Shia Arab" not "Shia Persian" bit. I thought I dealt with that in my post today.

The Shia we are concerned with here have been in league with the "Shia Persians" for a long time and given the demography of the ME and the traditional politics of the religious/political communities you can expect these "Shia Arabs" to end up in bed with the "Shia Persians." They already are in bed with them.

You don't want to "buy" all the shallow BS spread abroad by armchair experts who never set foot in Arabia or who were in the CPA where they sucked up all the nonsense that Iraqis were able to devise on relatively shor notice.

pl

ismoot

Angela,

The root cause of their inability to devise a lasting constitution which would end the war is the depth of their mutual communal hostility.

It doesn't really have anything to do with us except that we give them someone to "play games" with. pl

angela

Colonel:

It is hard for me to believe that anyone in their right mind is hoping for a real constitution which resolves real differences. The political forces have taken shape, they believe political power comes through a gun barrel.

If one is an idealist then one might hope that a facade can be mantained, that just having people pretend to be together and to gather physically might increase the possibility if real, though less dramatic deals and compromises and habits being made.

However I think for the most part the "constitution " is about convenience and face. Various parts of the "government" find advantages to holding it together for now, and we desperately want something that can be sold as "success."

I believe our desperation for this has put us in a position of greater weakness while encouraging a situation where the various parties rub their grievances a little rawer while sharpening their sense of entitlement.

This is not a good thing when one percieves the situation as one where the best we can do is use our limited leverage to make bad situations a little less worse.

I think the players are "all Iraqis" is that for various motives they do all have percieved interests in defying and gaming us. This "unity" stresses already serious fractures and further weakens our credibility as a competent broker.

We have pretty much said we will take *any* constitution, it can "delay" all the difficult questions, we pretty much guaranteed this "constitution" would be out yesderday. They decided not to. We now explain this was because of sand storms.

Yep nd they are the ones kicking sand in our face and we are the ones who set ourselves up. I think I have been fairly clear on my opinion that the Iraqi "government" is not going to be the vehicle by which things work out there. I think I've also been pessimistic on the likelyhood that any rational solution will take place.

Still sometimes opportunities do arise, stresses can bring out the strangest sets of circumstances. Also of great importance is the credibility we have left to influence larger strategic issues in the gulf and beyond.

To me we have squandered more of our already hurt reputation, somehow we managed in the tradition of this administration to set up a situation where parties who won't agree on anything else unite to make us look like klutzes.

My guess is that they will do so for a few more weeks and then hand us a meaningless toothless piece of paper. But they are going to make us beg.

angela

"My guess is that they will do so for a few more weeks and then hand us a meaningless toothless piece of paper. But they are going to make us beg."

I should add this is the "optimistic" reading of what they will do, what we can hope to get if we cooperate.

It is perfectly possible that the Shiite will shaft the Sunni, stressing those fault lines which we're trying to smooth and even chose to enter clauses we specifically have stated are unacceptable.

We have set up a situation where rather unsavory forces have a lot of leverage over us.

Ordinarily I think focus on the situation over there is too US-centric, it's as though Iraqis don't exist. But somehow by first vetoing and then smiling as they stick delays up us and saying all sorts of things, we have managed to aggravate something which at best could be concieved as essentially meaningless into something far more explosive and a test of our policy.

ismoot

Angela,

What we are seeing is either the dissolution of Iraq as it has been or the subjugation of Iraq by th Shia Arabs and their big brothers to the East.

As meaningless as constitutions are, and the Middle East is littered with them, the Shia are still not going to be willing to concede anything in writing if they don't have to. Like all Arabs, they are obsessed with Words. pl

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