Saturday, May 12, 2007

Crisis And Change In Iraqi Politics?

By Cernig

Today, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution by 138-to-88 objecting to the construction of security walls around Baghdad neighborhoods and also summoned Prime Minister Maliki to appear before them to testify on security issues - including those walls and the situation in Diyala province, where the US commander is saying he doesn't have the forces to do his job.
"Most of Diyala is under the control of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and this is a fact we must be brave enough to acknowledge and seriously deal with," said Shiite lawmaker Shazah Moussawi. "We need to discuss these problems with officials, we need to know why there is no success on the ground."

But others felt al-Maliki was not the person to address the problem.

"Let us summon (commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Gen. David) Petraeus to find out where we stand," said Shiite lawmaker Wail Abdul-Latif.
Another motion, which called for a ban on U.S. forces in Baghdad and thus would have brought the "surge" crashing to a close was dropped when it was suddenly announced that the parliament no longer had a quorum to continue debate.

The stormy session in parliament is indicative of the turmoil in Iraqi politics in general right now. Pressure from the U.S. Congress to impose benchmarks and some form of timetable along with internal pressures from a nationalist movement that is growing in power are fuelling a cusp, a crisis point, and no-one's quite sure where matters will end up.

For instance, the largest Shiite party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), has announced that it is dropping "Revolution" from its name and also dropping its allegiance to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Instead, it will now take its guidance from Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani - who is already the guiding light of nationalist Moqutada al-Sadr's faction and its Mahdi militia. SCIRI have previously been one of the Shiite groups who broadly favored some form of federalisation or partition of Iraq along sectarian lines, but now:
"We cherish the great role played by the religious establishment headed by Grand Ayatollah Sayed Ali al-Sistani ... in preserving the unity of Iraq and the blood of Iraqis and in helping them building a political system based on the constitution and law," said Rida Jawad al-Takki, a senior group member, who read out the party's decisions to reporters.
And the Sunni Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi has announced that his Iraqi Accord Front - the largest Sunni bloc - is posed to make "significant" decisions on several choices in a few days' time.
"The Iraqi Accord Front has few days to make important decision over many choices tabled before it. Priority will be given to dialogue" Al-Hashemi told the meeting "These decisions will be significant and will hit the deep roots of the political process, but not at all to rise to the level of a coup as the rumor goes." Al-Hashemi, however, did not reveal the nature of such decisions, nor the tendencies of the Front, one of the biggest in Iraqi parliament.
He noted that during the meeting with the Premier, he found fresh atmosphere that aroused his optimism, adding "there are many steps, requiring government decisions, that will, undoubtedly, contribute to secure success for these meetings and will have their positive impact on the political process and stability of Iraq."
I've a feeling a massive sea-change in Iraqi politics is about to hit. What exactly it will be, I have no definite ideas - but it has to either be a consolidation of power around Maliki's government and the U.S. occupation which supports it or a concerted move away from the current status-quo.

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