Friday :: Apr 29, 2005

Jaafari's Government: DOA??

by soccerdad

Raed in the Middlereports that major portions of the Sunni contingent withdrew from the government shortly after the cabinet was announced. This development was reported in the Arab press but the western press has failed to pick up on it.

From Raed

The story behind the mass Sunni withdrawal from the government is that Sunni Arabs had a clear deal with Jaafari about announcing a national political agenda before announcing the government, including "very important" points like asking the occupation forces to schedule their withdrawal from Iraq. Jaafari decided to announce the government with what seems to be a side agreement with Ghazi Al-Yawer alone

There appears to be 5 Sunis named in the new cabinet. That is far below the demands of the Sunnis. It would seem that the lack of participation by the Sunni’s in the government doom’s it to failure and brings it a step closer to civil war. A possibility that is apparently being discussed more and more by the Iraqis.

Pepe Escobar in the Asian Times reinforces the Raed’s comments

To say that Sunnis are angry would be an understatement. Powerful Sunni tribal Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawer, one of the vice presidents, is threatening that all Sunnis may withdraw from the government - because this cabinet lineup is not what they had agreed to with Jaafari. No wonder: Sunnis wanted to finish off once and for all with de-Ba'athification, and insisted on a very firm Arab nationalist government.
Shi'ites from religious parties would never agree to these demands. Some Sunnis have already pulled out, such as the Front of Sunni Arab Blocs, which includes the Front of National Blocs and the National Dialogue Council. The Sunnis wanted seven ministries, especially Defense (they will probably get it; Jaafari is the acting minister). An alert Sistani was wise enough to have pressed for 10 ministries for the Sunnis.

Allwai did not receive an appointment in the government. As Escobar notes:

So Allawi refashioned himself as opposition leader (his party had 40 seats in the elections), which would be tantamount to saying that the White House/Pentagon/Green Zone is now the opposition, since Allawi is the Americans' man. President George W Bush may have never thought he would be minority leader one day.

He also comments that the Kurds got too much in the negotiations. He is also concerned that moderates are leaving Iraq. For example Adnan Pachachi has apparently fled to the United Arab Emirates. But here’s where Escobar brings up an interesting point:

The unsettling feeling about the cabinet is that it is hostage to a big picture it won't be able to control.

The infrastructure as well as the administration is in shambles. There’s no security; when the going gets tough the Iraqi police usually hide. Despite the US’s pronouncements the Iraqi army is very far from being a force willing to stand up to the insurgency.

As a response to the formation of the cabinet there was a very coordinated attack in Baghdad today involving at least 11 car bombs, killing at least 41 including 3 US soldiers. Clearly the insurgents are becoming more desperate.

Insurgents also hit Iraqi forces with a coordinated assault in the southeastern town of Madain, less than two weeks after Iraqi forces raided the region to clear it of insurgents in an operation praised by the U.S. military as evidence of the progress made by Iraq in assuring its own security.

So what does all this mean? The outlook for this government being able to write the Constitution on time is grim. The lack of participation of the Sunnis is a disaster no matter how you look at it. The apparent rise in ethnic tensions and there are major issues remaining to be worked out such as the role of Islam in the government, how much autonomy do the Kurds get, etc.

For the US, given that the elections went heavily in favor of the Shias recent events could not have gone better. Letting the Shia’s fail may be a way of neutralizing the establishment of a Shia government . [see Needlenose]. Their friend Allawi is now established as an opposition leader and their other long time friend Chalabi has been put in charge of the oil ministry despite having no experience. It would never have occurred to me to appoint a person convicted of bank fraud in charge of overseeing the country’s primary source of revenue. So has the chaos continues, no one is asking the US to leave, giving the administration more time to come up with a way of getting a government established that is more to their liking.

soccerdad :: 1:42 PM :: Comments (35) :: Digg It!