Here's a newsflash for surge supporters - the surge has, as of today, failed in its stated mission of creating political space for reconcilliation. Maliki refuses point blank to create any such space - indeed has deliberately tried to prevent it - and as long as Maliki is being propped up by the US there will be no such reconcilliation.
The Sunni Accordance Front, with 6 cabinet ministers in Maliki's "coalition" government, has carried through on a promise to quit that government if Maliki refused it's demands on increasing Sunni security, according to reports.
Rafaa al-Issawi, a leading member of the Front, said at a news conference that the bloc's six Cabinet ministers would submit their resignations later in the day.It really doesn't matter how many Anbar
Al-Issawi said the decision to pull out from the government followed what he called Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's failure to respond to the Accordance Front. It gave him seven days to meet its demands, and the ultimatum expired Wednesday.
Among the demands: a pardon for security detainees not charged with specific crimes, the disbanding of militias and the participation of all groups represented in the government in dealing with security issues.
"The government is continuing with its arrogance, refusing to change its stand and has slammed shut the door to any meaningful reforms necessary for saving Iraq," al-Issawi said.
"We had hoped that the government would respond to these demands or at least acknowledge the failure of its policies, which led Iraq to a level of misery it had not seen in modern history. But its stand did not surprise us at all," he said, reading from a prepared statement.
The Accordance Front has 44 of parliament's 275 seats. Its withdrawal from the 14-month-old government is the second such action by a faction of al-Maliki's "national unity" coalition.
Five Cabinet ministers loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr quit the government in April to protest al-Maliki's reluctance to announce a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.
The efforts of US troops to create small havens of relative calm are to be applauded, even though the relative calm has never done more than scratch the surface of the violence. However, their efforts were part of a misguided policy put together in rose-colored think-tanks which have consistently replaced reality with neo-liberal and neoconservative interventionist ideology since their very first plans for invading Iraq to "shake up" the Middle East. In that, their valiant efforts were wasted from the very first.
It is remotely possible that the various nationalist Iraqi political groups have been right all along - that a cross-sectarian coalition which can save Iraq is possible. But those same groups have been saying for almost five years now that such a coalition cannot include the occupiers and should not include Maliki or his cronies.
With this latest and most abject failure of the rose-colored meddlers to include reality in their plans, surely it's time to give the nationalists their chance. After all, they've been right about disbanding Saddam's army, about de-Ba'athification, about US hearts-and-minds failures, about corruption, about the elections and the constitution. Now they've been proven right about Maliki too.
Let us return Iraq to those who believe in "Iraq for Iraq's sake" rather than those who wish Iraq for America's sake or Iran's sake - and bring the troops home.
Update As if the point really needed underlining, here's McClatchy:
Despite President Bush's recent insistence that al Qaida in Iraq is the principal cause of this country's violence, senior American military officers here say Shiite Muslim militias are a bigger problem, and one that will persist even if al Qaida is defeated.Bush has consistently agreed with the policy advice of the WormTongue ideologues, and been consistently wrong. A sizeable chunk of the US military has already figured that much out but, hey, he's the Codpiece In Chief.
"The longer-term threat to Iraq is potentially the Shiite militias," one senior military officer said, echoing concerns that other American officials raised in recent interviews with McClatchy Newspapers.
Military officers hail the fact that violence is down as evidence that their campaign against al Qaida in Iraq is succeeding. But there's no sign of reconciliation between Sunni Muslims and Shiites, the rationale the Bush administration cites for increasing the number of U.S. troops in the country.
The Shiite Mahdi Army militia continues to drive Sunni residents from neighborhoods in Baghdad, a development that one American officer called "disappointing." Shiite politicians show little sympathy for the expelled Sunnis or interest in stopping the expulsions. In interviews, they argued that the drive against Sunnis is a justified response to Sunni campaigns to drive Shiites from their neighborhoods, a position that American military officers reject.
American officials say they're hopeful about the recent decision by some Sunni insurgent groups to cooperate with U.S. troops to defeat al Qaida in Iraq. But some of America's new Sunni allies warn that once they've disposed of the religious extremists in their midst, they'll return to battling rival Shiites — and American occupiers.