Monday :: Nov 13, 2006

Did The Election Change Iraqi Behavior?

by Steve

“There cannot be a government and militias together. One of the two should rule. I personally will not be in a government based on militias."
--Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki yesterday

I largely agree with Paradox’s conclusions from yesterday, that the Democrats despite their victory last week aren’t in any commanding position to engineer change in Iraq, especially in light of Joe Lieberman’s comments from yesterday. Joe is enamored of himself as a modern kingmaker, and will try and hold the party hostage to a moderate position on Iraq. But in one way I disagree with Paradox and it was reflected in Levin’s comments and the reaction in Baghdad.

Ask yourself this: if the GOP had retained total control over both houses last week, would Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have suddenly taken a tough line towards his own militias, who are the base of his support? Now, faced with a newly energized American legislative branch that saw the role Iraq played in the election results, the Iraqi government is no longer taking the “in your face” line they were taking with the Bush Administration just before the election, when they pointedly rebuked the White House for suggesting that al-Maliki focus on the Shiite militias. Now, with congressional Democrats and especially the possibility of a John Murtha-led House Democratic caucus being out front with talk of redeployment in advance of the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group report, suddenly the Iraqis see their leverage over the Bush Administration evaporate.

The hand that al-Maliki played last week to push back against the White House is now gone. Until last week, he operated on the assumption that as long as the GOP were in control there would be no withdrawal and an American police force would continue to do the work the Iraqis won’t do themselves. Now, faced with the reality that both the Democrats and the Baker/Hamilton report will call for a redeployment and immediate action by the Iraqis, suddenly al-Maliki pivots and wants to change his cabinet.

It would be nice however if Reid could get his act together with his incoming committee chairs, because if there is any appearance that the committee chairs are free-lancing, the media will spin this to the detriment of the Democrats. And the significance of Pelosi siding with Murtha over Hoyer for Majority Leader is huge. Pelosi is sending a signal that Murtha is the caucus point person on Iraq, and that the military has a direct pathway to the House leadership.

Steve :: 8:15 AM :: Comments (31) :: Digg It!