Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Untimely Recess

The withdrawal of the Accord Front from Maliki's cabinet and the persistence of the parliament on taking a month long recess is a major embarrassment for Baghdad and Washington alike and for anyone who was looking forward to seeing some political progress in Iraq before the September milestone.

When it comes to the recess, two main factions can be identified as the cause of the deadlock:

First there is the Accord Front. This bloc apparently trying through the withdrawal from the cabinet and preventing the passage of legislations by insisting on taking the recess to show that the government and particularly Maliki have failed.
Their moving in this direction suggests that they are betting that by proving their point they will have a chance to oust Maliki and form a new government by joining forces with other opposition groups namely Allawi's bloc, the Dialogue Front since these two blocs supported the Accord's decision and Allawi's is even planning to follow the Accord's steps out of the cabinet. The Fadheela Party and some independent UIA members could be potential partners as well.

Second we have the pro-withdrawal anti-American factions in the parliament; mainly represented the Sadr bloc in addition to some radical elements from the UIA and a few from the two Sunni blocs who are not getting along well with the moderate wing in the bloc. These simply want to halt the legislative process at this point hoping that this would put more pressure on Washington to withdraw from Iraq.

I don't have the vote record of the session in which the recess was approved but from the number (150 votes in favor of the recess) I think Allawi's bloc, or at least its members who were present that day have voted similarly perhaps for the same reason the Accord did.
I suppose Petraeus will not have a difficulty in showing progress military-wise but the question is, could that be enough to make up for the damage done by these political setbacks?

There's no question that achieving a dramatic military victory in 30 days is very unlikely when we're fighting terrorists and militias. On the other hand reversing the political damage dealt by the two developments in 30 days seems to need something close to a miracle.

These developments show that a majority in our parliament care only about themselves and their blocs' interests much more than they do about the country's in such difficult time and their attitude tells that the blocs don't want to work together and don’t want to reconcile their differences.
Like we always said, we don't need reconciliation among the people, we need reconciliation among the components of the political class and if they don't want to do this then I think the best solution to ensure a fresh political start would be to change the political class through early elections once the security situation allows for. And to do this Iraq will need the "surge" to continue for several months beyond September.

One thing makes me worried these days and I'm afraid that someone is planning a different bad solution. The rift between the minister of defense and the senior commanders including chief of staff of the army which led to a group resignation is an ominous sign that indicates a deep dispute between the two leaderships and this dispute seems to be over a political issue given their history in the military institution.
It would be too early to speculate that someone is planning a coup-or preparing to crush one-at this point but the mere thought of it remains a little bit scary.

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