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11 November 2010


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But as of today Iraq has a new government with a strong Maliki lead and a much weakened CIA asset Allawi.
Nujayfi, Talabani and Maliki – Plus Lots of Hot Air

In a repeat of the procedure used in April 2006, the Iraqi parliament today met and elected not only its speaker (Usama al-Nujayfi of Iraqiyya) but also the president (Jalal Tabalani of the Kurdish alliance). Talabani went on to nominate Nuri al-Maliki as premier candidate of “the biggest bloc in parliament” – the National Alliance, consisting of Maliki’s own State of Law alliance (89 deputies) plus its newfound partners from the disintegrated Iraqi National Alliance including the Sadrists (40 deputies), Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Ahmad Chalabi.
Now if this coalition will be able to suppress the violence by some carrots and sticks is an open question. But what is quite obvious is that the U.S. is no longer in control at all:
As for the regional and international players involved in this, the outcome is a mixed one. In one way, the United States managed to secure its goal of having all the players “inside the tent”, if only just. Its mission civilatrice of teaching the rest of the world how to peacefully kick the can further down the road has apparently succeeded! But there are some major caveats too. Recently, the Obama administration spent an awful lot of energy trying to convince the Kurds to give up the presidency to Iraqiyya. This in itself signalled diplomatic incompetence since the presidency is more or less worthless in its current shape and cannot be upgraded to something more powerful except through constitutional change with a special majority in parliament and a subsequent popular referendum. Additionally, the failure of Washington to sway the Kurds, even after direct phone calls from President Barack Obama, did not play well in the region in terms of prestige. If the US president was unable to get what he wanted, he should have avoided such a humiliating sequence of events. Still, the most important problem lies in the fact that the United States has staked its policy on some kind of informal premiership for Ayad Allawi, with Tony Blinken even going as far as trying to portray today’s deal as an alliance of the Kurds and Iraqiyya against Maliki! That narrative, repeated in a series of hapless media reports that talk about “power-sharing between Allawi and Maliki” and even an Allawi–Maliki “coalition” (BBC) rather distorts the fact on the ground as of today, where Maliki remains premier and commander in chief of the armed forces with his constitutional prerogatives in good order and the support of the Sadrists, the Kurds and Iran. With the expiry of the presidency council today, no one has a veto power on laws passed by the legislature with even the smallest of majorities, and for the time being the new political council for strategic policies remains a projected annexe to the rest of the sprawling political architecture of Iraq – it remains to see whether the powers that be (and the neighbours!) will accept it. It is not totally unlikely that Maliki will try again what he did back in 2008, i.e. once more marginalizing the Kurds, the Sadrists and even Iran and try to be an Iraqi nationalist, but this kind of development will be despite the policies of the Obama administration, rather than a consequence of them.
My bet is that Maliki will find some carrots to pull a sufficient part of the Sunnis to his side and then to get rid of those who violently press for more.

But will he keep his promise to Sadr and Iran to kick the U.S. troops out when the SOFA agreement runs out?


"Meghan O'Sullivan is one of the principal creators of the strategery that has led us to this sorry pass in Iraq and Afghanistan.

OT, but perhaps not really the day after Veterans Day. I saw the HBO documentary "Wartorn" last night. It surveyed the impact of PTSD on armed forces members and their families from 1861 to the present.

Bush, Cheney and other neocons who started our war of choice in Iraq should be forced to watch it, though I believe Cheney's personality is so pathological that he would blow even something like this off.

William R. Cumming

Once again what person or groups control military and para-military in Iraq?
Numbers and strength and weaponary?

Is it true that over 100K US weapons have "disappeared" since invasion? Who is importing arms into Iraq today?


After reading her bio I am just speechless at the incompetence of the neocons. A couple of post-graduate years of work before her PHD and 3 years at a think tank? That didn't qualify her for designing my county's new high school policy much less designing US policy.

Then her wonderful quote "...But, so often, inclusiveness comes at the expense of effectiveness."

The neocons were neither inclusive nor effective, except in the filling of the cities and towns of Iraq with widows and orphans; And with the lining of the pockets of the greediest within the walls of the Emerald City. She still has no idea what is going on, does she?

anna missed

As usual, the sixty four thousand dollar question remains - who came up with the idea that once the secular regime of Saddam was overthrown, and the Shiite majority filled the vacuum, how could they ever think that the new majority would not be a profoundly sectarian natural ally of Iran. This is a bit like helping Pat Robertson run for president again, only this time with the expectation he will run on the Socialist Workers Party ticket.
As to b's question, I think they will have to keep the promise.

Patrick Lang


I belive these are weapons that we imported for the use of the Iraqis. Once you issue weapons to a foreign army or police force they are, perforce, gone. pl

Adam L Silverman

Fred: I'm pretty sure the middle of the three Woodward books about President Bush has a section detailing how Dr. O'Sullivan wound up in the assignments and potions that she did. Both in Iraq on the CPA and at the NSC. It's quite interesting.


who came up with the idea that once ... the Shiite majority filled the vaccuum, how could they ever think that the new majority would not be a... natural ally of Iran?

A) Ahmed Chalabi, the charming snake oil salesman. Not as his personal belief, but one to be encouraged among those who were needed to remove Saddam.

B) A moot point. Wasn't the original, pre-invasion plan to move swiftly through Iraq (6mos - 1yr, military intel and advice be damned) and on to Teheran?

DE Teodoru

Listening to O'Sullivan and Israbadi-- who like the Israeli Ambassador, while Iraqi diplomat, has long had a US position available just in case-- one can't help but wonder why can't we make both MDs right on Lehrer Newshour and then hall them in court accountable to the same notion of "criminal negligence" and "professional incompetence" to which a physician "losing" a patient would suffer if as incompetent and utterly dishonest, cooking the books and collecting full fees for services. Petraeus too (not to speak of Keane who acted as chief of Dept. of SURGEery without a license) should be given an MD license so he could face charges as an incompetent SURGEon who botched one SURGEry and insists that because his reputation as a SURGEon is at stake he should be allowed to try again, the second patient having no choice in the matter.

Bush pushed Maliki into Iran's camp and Obama abandoned him there, as they did with Sadr. Originally, Maliki and Sadr, way back when, sought an Iraqi solution that bypassed Alawi as an American creature. We made sure that Malik, Sadr and various Sunnis would never come to a menage-a-trois. Meanwhile, oil companies trying for a profit share rather than fees for service with DoS bullying made it clear to Iraqis of many stripes that the US is not only a shady character but also an oily one.

This "election" was utter nonsense as there was no option that offered stability and survival to the anticipated voters who live, NOW STILL, like stray mangy dogs. The Shia factions and Sunni insurgency that Sullivan spoke of were REACTIVE forces, not initiative ones. So the question is what has the US done to quell the reaction so that it can leave expecting that there might me some consequence to this oily mess that might make anyone feel that more has been achieved than was achieved in Vietnam: US GOT OUT?

At least Nixon arranged for China to save Thailand by stopping Hanoi's intention to march West as a Soviet proxy to India's border. Indeed Zhou pleaded through a French agent with Pres. Minh to hold off for 48hrs his surrender so China could stop PAVN's march north of Dalat. But then the enemies were regular forces fighting a sensible war in a sensible Cold War. In Iraq and Afghanistans it was only Iraqis and Afghans (few alQaeda ghost soldiers) who fought against what WE were doing to them. Now those who resisted us from inside are either trapped by Iran and Pakistan or abandoned to the Saudis, their quartermaster, as we leave. WE are, as the Israelis told Bush in 1/09, no longer relevant. The election was done in exchange for "Yankee go home," not for the sake of an Iraqi democracy as no Iraqi was left by us in a position to afford the luxury of free democratic vote. Too many are still very angry and had Ms. O'Sullivan had a better translator she would have realized that you can't butcher a patient and expect such patients to patiently abide by your post-op orders.

Clifford Kiracofe

There appears to be a larger Neoconservative/pro-Israel agenda than Iraq and AFPak:

1. Confrontation in the Middle East. General Wesley Clark stated:

"As I went back through the Pentagon in November 2001, one of the senior military staff officers had time for a chat. Yes, we were still on track for going against Iraq, he said. But there was more. This was being discussed as part of a five-year campaign plan, he said, and there were a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan.

...He said it with reproach--with disbelief, almost--at the breadth of the vision. I moved the conversation away, for this was not something I wanted to hear. And it was not something I wanted to see moving forward, either. ...I left the Pentagon that afternoon deeply concerned."

2. Confrontation with China

3. Confrontation with Russia

One could argue that this policy line is the dominant line in both the Republican and Democratic parties. The composition of the incoming Congress appears to strengthen this line. Thus, one could expect the further militarization of foreign policy.

William R. Cumming

I have concluded after some thought and perhaps wrong that the Chinese foreign policy and foreign relations is largely based on HAN Chinese demographics.
In Iraq demographics will also determine the future and wondering what birthrates and populations numbers are of the various sects of ISLAM that struggle there for dominance. Am I correct that Sunnis without the Kurds being counted are less than 20% of Iraq's remaining population after the Sunni disaspor prompted in part by the US invasion and uncontrolled violence by various forces on the public at large?
Note that CHINA is now conducting a CENSUS! When was the last census in Afghanistan? Never is my understanding. Would a census of that country reveal surprises? My guess is yes.

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