Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sunni Bloc Returns To Parliament

By Cernig

The Sunni National National Dialogue Front has announced that it will return to the Iraqi parliament - but those who are cheerleading that this is a momentous move forward for political reconcilliation and the progress of legislative benchmarks shouldn't hold their breath.

What conservative pony-chasers are leaving out from their posts about this news -

No-one's rejoined Maliki's cabinet, his government isn't supported by the majority of Iraqis.

This move actually reduces support for some of the key benchmarks (e.g. the oil bill) in parliament.

The Sunnis have only rejoined on condition that Maliki is summoned to account to parliament for his lapses on security issues - like cleansing the military and police, cracking down on Shia militias, etc.

The same Sunni group that rejoined the parliament are calling the surge a failure and blaming Maliki for that failure:

A prominent Sunni politician warned the drop was a "temporary improvement" that would be reversed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's failure to achieve national reconciliation.

"We need a liberal government we need a secular government, without such a government the violence will continue," Saleh al-Mutlaq told Al-Jazeera in an interview from Amman, Jordan.

"The violence will grow again, as people will lose hope if nothing changes on the political side," he said.
There is no legislation pending which will address the rampant corruption and cronyism of the Iraqi government, and without tackling that culture political reconcilliation will always get bogged down by competing turf feuds.

The VOA asked an expert:
Anthony Cordesman, of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, says the stalled debate in Parliament and the ethnic violence that has plagued the country reflect a power struggle between sectarian factions. He says Iraq's much-criticized prime minister cannot move the process forward unless the warring factions want him to.

"The compromises have to be real. It isn't passing legislation, it isn't what Prime Minister Maliki can do as prime minister," said Cordesman. "He is a minority prime minister in a political structure with no power unless the factions actually agree the compromises are adequate and see them implemented."

Cordesman says compromises will only emerge from negotiations that take place largely outside the formal political structure.
It's difficult to see where such external negotiations could begin - unless perhaps in a cross-sectarian agreement that Maliki must go. For instance and despite the hype, the Anbar Opportunists are very much opposed to the Baghdad government - to the extent of even mistrusting the Sunni represenatives there.

I don't want to utterly write off the Sunni's return. Halting the worst excesses of de-Ba'athification will definitely help Iraq, for instance. But anyone who thinks the Sunnis in parliament are going to vote against their own interests on such as the oil law or that todays return is part of a magical transformation of the entire Iraqi political picture is smoking the Kool-Aid in a crack-pipe, not just drinking it. For one thing, the folks who look most likely to reconcile and sideline Maliki in the process all want the US out as soon as they seize enough power back from Maliki's government to be able to better hold their own in the civil war.