Tuesday, November 28, 2006

One meeting, two men, and too many expectations.

Eyes and ears are fixed on Amman waiting for the Maliki-Bush summit.
The meeting is no doubt an important one given the sort of issues that will be discussed over two days. Actually it will be the first real lengthy talks between the two men since the earlier two meetings were much shorter.

I've been listening to what ordinary Iraqis think of this and I've been following what politicians had to say on their end and from that I got the sense that most people here are at odds with politicians in the way they perceive the meeting, and that's for a very simple reason; Iraqis are desperate and they're frustrated by the failure of their government. So they are anxiously waiting for solutions and are hoping the two leaders agree on decisions that can improve the situation in Iraq.
On the other hand the politicians here, knowing how much of our troubles exist because of them, are afraid that decisions that might arise from the meeting will inevitably be not in the interest of the powerful political factions in Iraq.

Many of our politicians here, especially the Kurds, some Sunnis and those close to Sadr are against Maliki's trip or at least cynical about its consequences and that's because Maliki and Bush are the wet who don't fear the rain as we say here. They don't have much to lose now, both men are already receiving tons of criticism from their peoples for what's going on in Iraq, and when people are in such a situation they tend to be less shy about making daring decisions and that's exactly what Iraq's political factions that have bigger shares in the parliament and cabinet are afraid of.

Speculations about possible decisions also vary greatly, there are people who expect Bush to set an ultimatum for Maliki to control the violence but the theory ends here and there are only vague visions about what comes after such an ultimatum.
Others prefer to downplay the significance of the talks and suggest, or hope that it's bound to failure and explain that by the "fact" that neither leader has the capacity to alter the course of events in Iraq.
In contrast with that there are rumors-some can be called fantasies actually but that's not unexpected in a community that still believes in miracles- circulating in Baghdad that major changes in the government will take place immediately after Maliki returns from his trip and here there is a number of those theories:

-Replacing all the Sadr bloc ministers with new ones from other blocs combined with a crackdown on Sadr and Sunni politicians involved in the violence (this theory relies on the arrest warrant on Harith al-Dhari and the threat Sadr followers made to suspend their participation in the cabinet and parliament if Maliki ignored their calls and went to Amman)

-A vast change in the cabinet, replacing all current cabinet members with non-partisan technocrats.

-One other theory of wild imagination indeed predicts that Bush (with help from regional countries, namely Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) have already set up a government-in-exile (With Iyad Allawi on top) to replace Maliki and his cabinet should the latter refuse, or fail to, comply with American demands in disbanding armed militias.

People who think the latter will be the case built their theory on the earlier statement of the Iraq Study Group from September when the group said Maliki had only three months left to do whatever he could to stem the violence.

Anyways, I do agree that the meeting will indeed see serious talks aiming at launching efforts to save Iraq from destruction and America from humiliation at a very critical point in history. The two men know the kind of decision they need to make but they will need all the courage they can find to do that.

Let's wait and see what happens, tomorrow is not that far….

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