Why the Iraqi Impasse Continues

Why doesn't Iraq have a government yet? Two answers predominate among commentators in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Many in the Arab and Iranian press blame the U.S. occupation, saying the United States and Britain are trying to impose their will on the Shiite parties that won the most seats in December elections.

But Sunni and Kurdish commentators blame incumbent Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari, saying his failure to restore public services and reign in militia violence prevents them from supporting him.

The issue is dominating Middle East debate as the Iraqi parliament prepares to convene on Monday. The Assembly hopes to break the impasse that has endured through weeks of continuing sectarian violence and subsequent fears of civil war in Iraq and the Middle East.

At the heart of the impasse is the arithmetic of division. The coalition of Shiite parties won 128 of 270 seats in Iraq's National Assembly. The Sunni, Kurdish and independent parties won 142 seats. The Shiites need the support of another party to get the 136 votes needed to elect the next prime minister. So far they haven't gotten it, and they are resisting demands that they nominate another candidate.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw went to Baghdad last week to press for a resolution, saying the political vacuum was contributing to the sectarian bloodshed violence. Jafari responded by suggesting to The Guardian of London that their pressure was undemocratic.

Jafari said his candidacy was adopted "by a democratic mechanism and I stand with it ... We have to protect democracy in Iraq and it is democracy which should decide who leads Iraq. We have to respect our Iraqi people."

"People will react if they see the rules of democracy being disobeyed," he continued. "Every politician and every friend of Iraq should not want people to be frustrated. Everyone should stick to democratic mechanisms no matter whether they disagree with the person."

A columnist for Jordan's Al-Dustur was harsher: "The real decisions are taken by the US occupier and its British partner with the foreign ministers of both countries in Baghdad in an attempt to force an Iraqi government."

But Abdul Rahman Rashid, editor of the al Arabiya news network and columnist for the Asharq Alawsat, said it was time for Jafari step aside, "lest he himself becomes the problem. If he fails to depart, he could trigger off a conflict among political parties both inside and outside parliament. If Jaafari, supported by his party, were to continue in power, Iraqis would remain divided over him."

The impasse is testing the unity of the factions that make up the Shiite Coalition: the Dawa Party, led by Jafari, which is considered pro-Iranian; the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is considered more secular; and a group led by the radical cleric Moqtada Sadr.

Jafari and SCIRI leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim met for an hour on Wednesday, according to an Iraqi news report translated by Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog, "but failed to reach an agreement a candidate for prime minister. Al-Hakim is said to have clung to the idea of convincing Jaafari to step down in favor of SCIRI candidate Adil Abdul Mahdi."

Mahdi, who lost the nomination by a single vote in February, is favored by the United States, but opposed by Sadr.

On Wednesday, a smaller Shiite party offered to name another candidate, which Reuters said increased pressure on coalition to drop Jafari next week.

Patrick Cockburn, Baghdad correspondent for The Independent of London, says the Shiite leaders "suspect that the US and Britain, backed by the Sunni Arab states of the Middle East, want to rob them of their election victory on December 15 last year by forcing them into an unrepresentative coalition."

The United States "is not likely to succeed in the long term," according to Cockburn. "Attempts to weaken the Shia will, on the contrary, force them to rely on their own powerful militias and drive them into the arms of Iran."

-- Jefferson Morley

By washingtonpost.com Editors |  April 14, 2006; 9:50 AM ET  | Category:  Mideast
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Its propaganda that SCIRI is secular and any less pro-Iranian that Dawa.

Posted by: kingfish | April 14, 2006 11:31 AM

Because of George W. Bush's war Al Dawa is now one of the most powerful religio-political parties in Iraq.

This is really odd since the bombed the US embassy in Kuwait in 1983:

Dec. 12, 1983 Bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait

The American embassy in Kuwait was bombed in a series of attacks whose targets also included the French embassy, the control tower at the airport, the country's main oil refinery, and a residential area for employees of the American corporation Raytheon. Six people were killed, including a suicide truck bomber, and more than 80 others were injured. The suspects were thought to be members of Al Dawa, or "The Call," an Iranian-backed group and one of the principal Shiite groups operating against Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

The U.S. military took no action in retaliation. In Kuwait, 17 people were arrested and convicted for participating in the attacks. One of those convicted was Mustafa Youssef Badreddin, a cousin and brother-in-law of one of Hezbollah's senior officers, Imad Mughniyah. After a six-week trial in Kuwait, Badreddin was sentenced to death for his role in the bombings.

Over the following years, the arrest and imprisonment of the "Kuwait 17" (also known as the "Al Dawa 17"), became one of the most consistent demands of the kidnappers of Western hostages in Lebanon and plane hijackers.

Ironically, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, the Iraqis unwittingly released the imprisoned Badreddin and the remaining members of the Kuwait 17. Press reports vary about Badreddin's current whereabouts.

Posted by: God of Gods | April 14, 2006 11:34 AM

The U.S. meddles and the situation further deteriorates.

Posted by: SherAn | April 14, 2006 11:38 AM

More on al-Dawa, the ruling party of Iraq

Terrorism:
(snip)

A wave of suicide attacks began in 1981 in Beirut, Lebanon, when a group called al-Dawa used a car bomb to blow up the Iraqi Embassy. Al-Dawa, (“the call” in Arabic, as in “the call for Holy War”) was a terrorist organization composed of Shia Muslims from Iraq who were backed by Iran. (Muslims belonging to the Shia branch of Islam form a minority in Iraq but the majority in Iran.) The Beirut attack killed 61 people and wounded more than 100 others. In 1983 a truck filled with explosives drove into the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 49 and wounding 120 others. It was followed later that year by a suicide bombing of U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, which killed 241 persons.

Posted by: | April 14, 2006 11:38 AM

I think the second sentence in the fifth paragraph is wrong ("The Sunni, Shiite and independent parties won 142 seats.") Probably should read "The KURDISH, Sunni, and independent parties won 142 seats.")

Posted by: Mike F. | April 14, 2006 11:42 AM

So SCIRI are the good guys now? Just shows you how far they have moved the goalposts that determine success. Look at these comments by Rumsfeld at a DoD News Briefing on March 28, 2003

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2003/t03282003_t0328sd.html

Rumsfeld statement:
Finally, before I turn to General Myers, a few words of caution.
...
Last, the entrance into Iraq by military forces, intelligence personnel, or proxies not under the direct operational control of General Franks will be taken as a potential threat to coalition forces. This includes the Badr Corps, the military wing of the Supreme Council on Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The Badr Corps is trained, equipped and directed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard, and we will hold the Iranian government responsible for their actions, and will view Badr Corps activity inside Iraq as unhelpful. Armed Badr Corps members found in Iraq will have to be treated as combatants.

Q&A
We have seen Badr Corps people moving into Iraq, and they report up thorough the Revolutionary Guard, and they're armed, and there are some additional ones that are close to the border. And my statement, I believe and I hope, said something like this: that to the extent they interfere with General Franks' activities, they would have to be considered combatants, and therefore we're suggesting they not interfere.

Posted by: kingfish | April 14, 2006 12:24 PM

Why does the impasse continue? Because this entire exercise is doomed, and was doomed from the outset.

The U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had and continues to have zero legitimacy within Iraq and within the broader world because it was imposed against the world's wishes by an arrogant, cavalier Bush administration. The war will continue, the deaths will mount and the situation will continue to degenerate until you leave. No amount of troops, no more trillions of dollars of military hardware can change this.

Bush and company eliminated any chance of success in this adventure at the very beginning when they (a) insulted their (then) allies and the United Nations to wage this war, going so far as to claim the UN would be "irrelevant" if it didn't bend to Bush's ill-conceived plans; (b) openly defied international law by carrying out this invasion without multilateral approval; (c) ignored experts' repeated warnings that there was no evidence of WMD in Iraq; (d) decided that they also didn't care about global public opinion; and (e) adopted and embraced a U.S.-supremacist approach whereby your president decided he knew better than the rest of the world.

As a result, Americans are now the most detested people on earth. Your are caught in a ghastly quagmire that will take generations to pay for and recover from.

This is what you get when you ignore the world's advice and decide you know best, when you decide that your law and your president's decisions override international law and the will of humanity as a whole.

Posted by: Sergio Mendes | April 14, 2006 12:51 PM

kingfish,

excellent post, thanks!

Most Americans I bet have NO idea about who the SCIRI and al Dawa really are.

Where's the REPORTING?

It is palpably sad to think that on 9/11 nearly 3000 were murdered and billions of dollars in damage were in incurred, and that in direct response to these attacks Bush and his supporters *inadvertently* fathered a burgeoning fundamentalist Islamic republic that is basically one and the same with Iran.

9/11 + Iraq = Bush's Fundamentalist Islamic Republic?

WTF?

Where's the outrage?

Posted by: God of Gods | April 14, 2006 12:57 PM

lets face it. honestly, none of this matters. iraq is lost. you have have elections, and appointments, and blah blah blah. useless, all of it. within three years baghdad will be like beirut. the elected politicians and appointees now will be warlords and militia leaders.

THANKS DUBYA!

Posted by: Fahd | April 14, 2006 12:57 PM

Sergio: As a result, Americans are now the most detested people on earth. Your are caught in a ghastly quagmire that will take generations to pay for and recover from

Multiple generations.

Today in Baghdad, people STILL sit in tea shops and strongly condemn Ghenghis Khan for defiling Babylon.

This was 800 years ago!

Posted by: God of Gods | April 14, 2006 01:03 PM

Most surprising part Jefferson Morley even forgot to mention in this Iraqi impasse is that it is US who wanted democratic rule which means rule by majority. But US does not want majority to freely choose the leader but rather choose a leader who US thinks may keep Iraq united. This after the fact that US encouraged Iraq’s disintegration during Saddam’s rule by imposing no-fly zones and helping Shiites and Kurds rebel against Sunni Saddam. This US interference is going to antagonize and unite Shiites ultimately. Afterall Mahdi, the choice of US, will not necessarily try to unite Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds and even if he tries to, he may not be able to. All the indications are that even if Mahdi becomes PM, it would be a short term solution that ultimately will backfire.

Iran’s influence will continue to grow in Iraq, there will be a middle-east civil war resulting in Iran’s victory. Domestic politics will force US withdrawal and by the time dust settles, US would wish Saddam was in power in Iraq because Saddam was America’s last defense against Iranian Ayatollahs.

Posted by: suresh sheth | April 14, 2006 01:13 PM

I think we need to get out of Iraq as soon as possible. We are in the middle of internal Islamic struggle. It is none of our business. We don't have the leverage or the troops to impose a settlement on these people. Nor, I might add the right to impose a settlement.
If the Bush Administration "successfully" drops bombs on Iranian Nuclear power plants, American troops will face a serious Shia insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention radioactive fallout over both countries.
In deed, we would be looking at several Chernobyls with radioactive fallout going with the changing wind direction. This will effect many people across the Middle East (Including Israel), the Indian subcontinent, or wherever the wind blows.

Posted by: P. J. Casey | April 14, 2006 01:58 PM

Jefferson,

You are to be congratulated for trying to tame, in so far as possible, the comment process.

The problem today, as usual, is the insufficiency of basic information. Going back to the time after the recent Iraqi elections but before certification of the results (January to early February), it was already being reported (in Arabic, but nowhere in English) that Khalilzad was being very proactive in the question of Prime-Ministership. The news agency Elaf (elaf.com) reported Feb 6 that Khalilzad was telling all and sundry that if the UIA appointed anyone other than Al-Mahdi as their candidate for the Prime-Ministership, he would see to it that there were enough problems that the government would fall, and he would also see to it that there was standing by a coalition of all the non-Shiite parties and factions, ready to form a non-Shiite government. Following the announcement of the results, and later following the UIA election of Jaafari as their appointee, this question of Khalilzad's role gradually entered the Western discussion. This public-relations timing is important, because Westerners have been given the idea that Khalilzad is "striving for a resolution" of a pre-existing problem, when in fact it appears he originally arrogated to himself a veto power against the person who turned out to be the majority's choice.

The Western discussion has been confusing for other reasons. The first rationale (for the antiJaafari stance) had been that since Moqtada drew a "red line" excluding Allawi, the Moqtada favorite (Jaafari) would constitute an offense against the idea of a "national unitary" government. Then there was the debate about why Khalilzad liked al-Mahdi (rep of the SCIRI organization, federalist in general orientation) over Jaafari/Moqtada (antifederalist). And for a period of time there had been the speculation about the Fadhila party (a major UIA component, follwers of a minority Najaf authority, not al-Sistani) splitting off from the UIA in some kind of a deal. Then more recently came the NYTimes "Moqtada bad" editorial, and this was followed more recently by the series of columns by Ignatius praising Khalilzad for his hands-on realism or something like that. Such has been the nature of the discussion around here.

For my part, I was as confused as the next man in the course of the above discussions, because although I had read early on about the Khalilzad initiative, like others I thought it had to do with al-Mahdi over Jaafari, and like others I found the potential reasons obscure. I am now convinced that I was wrong, and that the aim and purpose of what Khalilzad was doing was not to favor one Shiite candidate over another, but rather to split the UIA coalition, plain and simple. In retrospect it seems plain enough, because each time the parties resorted to al-Sistani for guidance, his answer was the same: I am not here to tell you whom to pick. What is paramount is not to split the Shiite coalition. That was the whole game. What makes me even more confident is saying this now, is that a person much more knowledgeable than myself, who was originally in favor of the split-the-UIA strategy, now says Khalilzad should have folded some time ago, once the UIA elected Jaafari and it was apparent the UIA wouldn't split. I'm referring to the recent post on talismangate.blogspot.com. In fact the writer there spells out the specific shenanigans Khalilzad had in mind, and why it didn't work. Worth a read, plus it's in English.

But the moral of all of this, in my respectful opinion, is that for people to arrive at well-supported conclusions in cases like this, there needs to be a broader and deeper fund of information from other languages than what is available now. Now all you're getting is people repeating their ultimate convictions over and over again.

John

Posted by: John | April 14, 2006 02:44 PM

Wow, lots of new stuff here that I didn’t know. I knew the US had originally been opposed to SCIRI and the Badr militia. But I had no idea that Dawa had blown up the US embassy in Kuwait in 1983.

And I certainly didn’t know until I read John’s informative link (http://talisman-gate.blogspot.com/2006/04/abu-omar-vs-shias.html) that Khalilzhad is incapable of communicating with Iraqis in Arabic.

What I wonder about is the constant claim that Moqtada al-Sadr is behind much of the sectarian violence in Iraq. Granted, black-clad militiamen are undoubtedly committing atrocities all over Iraq, and while some may be imposters, many are presumably genuine Mahdi Army men. But all the comments I’ve heard from al-Sadr himself stress Shia-Sunni unity in the face of occupation. In fact I specifically remember him saying after the Samarra mosque bombing that no-one should blame their “Sunni brothers.”

I can’t help feeling that the US opposes Sadr not because he’s a sectarian troublemaker – their own candidates are worse – but because he wants to unite poor Baghdadis of both sects against the occupation.

Posted by: OD | April 14, 2006 05:26 PM

Muqtada al-Sadr on Aljazeera "Ready to attack the Americans if they Attack Iran or Syria" "In a Democratic Iraq, Kurds will not need Own Region"

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Muqtada al-Sadr gave an extended interview on Saturday on Aljazeera, which I am going to blog here. What follows is a quick paraphrase of the interview done while watching it.

He began by explaining to the interviewer what was meant by the "Sadr Movement," which he said is not a political party. He described it as simply consisting of anyone who strictly follows [yuqallid] the teachings of Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr (d. 1999), Muqtada's father (known as "the second martyr"). He said that in a wider sense, anyone who honored the "Speaking Hawzah" or religious authority, including those who follow Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr (d. 1980) ("the first martyr"), could be counted as part of the Sadr Movement. They call for the Islamization of society and the spread of Islam in the world, so that it will become a base for the advent of the Imam Mahdi [the Muslim messiah to come at the end of time].


Informed Comment, Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion, Juan Cole is Professor of History at the University of Michigan

Posted by: | April 14, 2006 07:55 PM

This is some of the most informed and informative coments I have seen on the World Opinion Blog. Yes the Amb is from Afg, so he doesnt speak Arabic (but can probaly read it).

Why cant they form a gov...its because the USA doesnt want one to be formed. Pretty clear and if anyone has a dissenting opnion, lets hear it.

So then what is the objection to El Jaffri, cause Sadr supports him. So what is the endgame in this. You cannot "rule' Irak without US support. Then.....

Posted by: WOW | April 14, 2006 08:53 PM

I agree with WOW. This is the most informed and informative comments I have read on Iraq.

Unfortunately most Americans do not know the difference between Shia and Sunni, let alone Dawa and SCIRI. There is constantly mention in the news that "Iraqi soldiers backed by American soldiers undertook this mission" etc. What I would like to know is who these Iraqis were: Kurd, Shia or Sunni?

There are four competing forces in Iraq: Shia, Sunni, Kurd and American. Of these Kurds are content being confined to their region (besides wanting reverse ethnic-cleansning of Kirkuk), and will help Americans to some extent. But the interests of the Americans, Shias and Sunnis are mutually contradictory. The Sunnis are antagonistic to the Americans because of the 1990 Gulf War and the recent overthrow of the Sunni ruler Saddam. Historically Sunni dictators have compromised and worked with the US, for example the rulers of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt etc. The Shias on the other hand have never really been close to the US (except for the Shah of Iran whose regime wasn't really stable). So, whereas the "natural" partners for US influence of the region are Sunni dictators, the events of the last and a half decade have made that currently impossible in Iraq. The Arab Shias have a history of being disenfranchised by Sunni dictators who are often backed by the US. So Shias by nature do not trust the US. The current Shia game is to let the US and the Sunnis beat each other up. This war between the US and Sunnis serves Shia purposes in two ways. Firstly it weakens the Sunnis who would be rivals for power to the Shias once the Americans depart. Secondly it weakens the desire of Americans to involve themselves in Iraq in the future (say five years from now), which would enable the Shias to rule without interference. It is therefore not surprising that the Shias are not too unhappy nor working hard to curb the Sunni insurgency that targets Americans.

It is not that the Shias are being particularly devious. Their strategy is the obvious one for those locked in a tripartite struggle. For example in WWII the Americans waited long enough for the Soviets to have weakened the Germans before Normandy.

Posted by: Jay | April 14, 2006 10:26 PM

An Oldie but a Goodie:

Iraq: Bush's Islamic Republic
By Peter W. Galbraith
Volume 52, Number 13 · August 11, 2005

(snip)

Real power in Shiite Iraq rests, however, with two religious parties: Abdel Aziz al-Hakim's Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Dawa ("Call," in English) of Iraq's Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari. Of the two, SCIRI is the more pro-Iranian. Both parties have military wings, and SCIRI's Badr Corps has grown significantly from the five thousand fighters that harassed Saddam's regime from Iran in the decades before the war; it now works closely with Iraq's Shiite interior minister, until recently the corps' commander, to provide security and fight Sunni Arab insurgents.

SCIRI and Dawa want Iraq to be an Islamic state. They propose to make Islam the principal source of law, which most immediately would affect the status of women. For Muslim women, religious law—rather than Iraq's relatively progressive civil code—would govern personal status, including matters relating to marriage, divorce, property, and child custody. A Dawa draft for the Iraqi constitution would limit religious freedom for non-Muslims, and apparently deny such freedom altogether to peoples not "of the book," such as the Yezidis (a significant minority in Kurdistan), Zoroastrians, and Bahais.

This program is not just theoretical. Since Saddam's fall, Shiite religious parties have had de facto control over Iraq's southern cities. There Iranian-style religious police enforce a conservative Islamic code, including dress codes and bans on alcohol and other non-Islamic behavior. In most cases, the religious authorities govern—and legislate—without authority from Baghdad, and certainly without any reference to the freedoms incorporated in Iraq's American-written interim constitution—the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL).

Dawa and SCIRI are not just promoting an Iranian-style political system —they are also directly promoting Iran- ian interests. Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the SCIRI leader, has advocated paying Iran billions in reparations for damage done in the Iran–Iraq war, even as the Bush administration has been working to win forgiveness for Iraq's Saddam-era debt. Iraq's Shiite oil minister is promoting construction of an export pipeline for petroleum from Basra to the Iranian port city of Abadan, creating an economic and strategic link between the two historic adversaries that would have been unthinkable until now. Iraq's Shiite government has acknowledged Iraq's responsibility for starting the Iran–Iraq war, and apologized. It is an acknowledgment probably justified by the historical record, but one that has infuriated Iraq's Sunni Arabs.

Through its spies, infiltrators, and sympathizers, Iran has a presence in Iraq's security forces and military. It is virtually certain that Iran has access to any intelligence that the Iraqis have. Not only does Iran have an opportunity to insert its people into the Iraqi apparatus, it also has many Iraqi allies willing to do its bidding. When I asked an Iraqi with major intelligence responsibilities about foreign infiltration into Iraq, he dismissed the influx from Syria (the focus of the Bush administration's attention) and said the real problem was from Iran. When I asked how the infiltration took place, he said simply, "But Iran is already in Baghdad."

On July 7, the Iranian and Iraqi defense ministers signed an agreement on military cooperation that would have Iranians train the Iraqi military.

Posted by: God of Gods | April 15, 2006 12:53 AM

A Golden Oldie

The Iranian nightmare
By Michael Schwartz

In 1998, neo-conservative theorist Robert Kagan enunciated what would become a foundational belief of Bush administration policy. He asserted, "A successful intervention in Iraq would revolutionize the strategic situation in the Middle East, in ways both tangible and intangible, and all to the benefit of American interests."

Now, over two years after Baghdad fell and the American occupation of Iraq began, Kagan's prediction appears to have been fulfilled - in reverse. The chief beneficiary of the occupation and the chaos it produced has not been the Bush administration, but Iran, the most populous and powerful member of the "axis of evil" and the chief American competitor for dominance in the oil-rich region. As diplomatic historian Gabriel Kolko commented, "By destroying a united Iraq under [Saddam] Hussein ... the US removed the main barrier to Iran's eventual triumph."

Posted by: God of the God of Gods | April 15, 2006 12:55 AM

Freedom is on the March?

Those with strong stomachs may wish to see some photographs of the real situation in Iraq, photographs that American news outlets systematically refuse to print. Warning: they are often graphic. It should be noted that these sorts of scenes are shown on Arab satellite television all the time. For the past 3 years, American audiences have seen a sanitized Iraq, whereas the rest of the world has seen the real thing. When CNN interviewed Iraqi foreign minister Barham Salih recently, they showed him with a peaceful Baghdad backdrop. But in fact, Salih could not have so much as taken a stroll in West Baghdad without being immediately shot down dead.

http://juancole.com/

Posted by: Bunny | April 15, 2006 10:54 AM

President Bush declared that the Taliban is "no longer in existence" on 9-27-2004.

What LIAR!


Dozens Reported Killed in Attack on Taliban
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: April 16, 2006
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, April 15 (AP) — Afghan security forces backed by coalition helicopters attacked a suspected Taliban hideout in southern Afghanistan, setting off an intense gun battle in which dozens were reported killed, a provincial governor said Saturday.

Posted by: God of Gods | April 15, 2006 12:31 PM

Why it continues?

The strongest democracies are those where the median citizen (middle class) has received the best education. Poorly educated masses will easily fall for propaganda, irrationalism, populism and religious dogma. Since education is related to wealth, poverty is the enemy of democracy. Still, India shows that nationalism is a force strong enough to create a workable democracy even without high levels of median wealth and education.

Support for democratic ideals such as seperation of church and state, freedom of the press, etc, happens at the individual level; a critical mass of people must subscribe rationally to the idea that ones personal feelings should not stand in the way of what's in the common interest. Apart from enabling such individual critical thought, a democracy must also maintain a strong national, territorial identity to define that common interest. As long as large groups of people identify primarily with their ethnic or tribal interests their national allegiance will be questionable and will fundamentally undermine national unity and its democratic process.

Many people seem to believe you can invade a country and make a democracy out of it like the US did in Germany and Japan. What's usually not taken into account is that Japan and Germany were strongly authoritarian, organized and united nations that were defeated and then ordered to be democratic. Democracy became their national zeal, a way to break with the past. They restored national bureaucracies and services in no time and both experienced a wirtschafswunder.

National unity, a drive for wealth and education; a goal to further people's liberty and pursuit of happiness is what made Germany and Japan the successes they have become. A very similar process is happening in China and one may expect that democracy in China will simply be a result of rich and well educated customer-citizens being dissatisfied with state services; the new middle class will vote with their wallets.

Iraq will succeed if we who are democratic continue to support the process that will help them establish the foundations of democracy. One vote does not a democracy make.

Posted by: jvd | April 16, 2006 01:27 AM

Gerald Ford was astounded the other day when told about the first occupation of Iraq and how the Brits were the lead dogs. Then they cut to a Hummer ad and he got that look again.

Posted by: Reynolds | April 16, 2006 08:54 AM

The Sunday Times April 16, 2006

Iran suicide bombers ‘ready to hit Britain’
Marie Colvin, Michael Smith and Sarah Baxter

IRAN has formed battalions of suicide bombers to strike at British and American targets if the nation’s nuclear sites are attacked. According to Iranian officials, 40,000 trained suicide bombers are ready for action.

Posted by: Frank | April 16, 2006 09:22 PM

On Cheney, Rumsfeld order, US outsourcing special ops, intelligence to Iraq terror group, intelligence officials say

Larisa Alexandrovna
Published: Thursday April 13, 2006

The Pentagon is bypassing official US intelligence channels and turning to a dangerous and unruly cast of characters in order to create strife in Iran in preparation for any possible attack, former and current intelligence officials say.

One of the operational assets being used by the Defense Department is a right-wing terrorist organization known as Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK), which is being “run” in two southern regional areas of Iran. They are Baluchistan, a Sunni stronghold, and Khuzestan, a Shia region where a series of recent attacks has left many dead and hundreds injured in the last three months.

One former counterintelligence official, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the information, describes the Pentagon as pushing MEK shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The drive to use the insurgent group was said to have been advanced by the Pentagon under the influence of the Vice President’s office and opposed by the State Department, National Security Council and then-National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice.

Posted by: | April 16, 2006 09:36 PM

The question Mr. Morley poses this Monday can’t be answered simply. Even the two “predominant views” are too simple. You must look at Iraq and how the Bush Administration got us all into this mess.

Fundamentally, Iraq is a tribal society. Think in terms of an entire society where the fundamental unit of organization is a familial group. This is one of the earliest societal organizational schemes in existence. People in Iraq may think of themselves as “Iraqis” but that defines only the geographical boundaries of where they live. It’s not something where they have sense of allegiance. They’re allegiance is to the tribe. Sometimes tribes can create super-tribal relationships where many tribes band together. The relationship binding the tribes? Strictly familial and power. Watch the activities to try to form a government in Iraq, you’ll see the processes of inter-tribal-relations at work.

And then there’s the Bush Administration with its theocratic underpinnings. There’s this crazy belief that some how “democracy” (as they’ve conceived it, no matter that their conception of it has nothing to do with actual democracy – some how it seems that they’ve got the idea that democracy is electing a dictator) is divinely a part of everyone’s soul and that somehow we all know what it is and want it? (If you think I’m wrong about this view, please go back and review what this group said would happen after the fall of Saddam.) There’s this childish belief that somehow the Iraqis would glom on to the idea of democracy and cherish it because that desire is part of their “divinely” inspired nature. Yeah, right (this is sarcasm)? Ultimate manifestation of this starry-eyed child-like mentality was from Rumsfeld when he talked about “freedom being messy” (Bush Administration interchangeably uses “democracy” and “freedom.”) when the looting took place after the fall of Baghdad. This was chaos, not democracy. This was part of the foretelling of the future we now have in Iraq, and not the birth of a great new democracy.

Democracy isn’t an abstraction that’s innate. Just watch children at play. If there’s no concept of following the rules, reasonableness, equal participation and fair play, it won’t happen. We’ve unleashed something in Iraq and the outcome has yet been fully unveiled. But you can be sure that the politics of power and tribalism will be a part of it.

Posted by: InChicago | April 17, 2006 11:11 AM

InChicago: divinely a part of everyone’s soul

I think that is how Messers Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al must have framed it for Boy George who thinks of himself as the right arm of God.

Posted by: God of Gods | April 17, 2006 12:02 PM

Everybody needs to calm down. Iraq is Arab, and Iran is not Arab. Most Iraqi Shia are Arab. Iran will not control Iraq because they are not Arab. Iran would step into the same buzzsaw American's did going into Iraq if they try to contol it. Leave these people alone, and let them figure it out. If they can't do it, Iraq will splinter. It is their business, and we cannot solve their problems. We are not Arab or Iranian.

Posted by: P. J. Casey | April 17, 2006 01:28 PM

P. J. Casey: Iraq is Arab, and Iran is not Arab.

Your point of view is naive with its not recognizing the central importance Islam in the ME.

There is not one credible ME expert that has written/talked about Iran not being the chief beneficiary of Bush's and his supporters invading/occupying of Iraq.

Here are some facts for you:

60%-65% of the people in Iraq are Shi'a Muslim. 89% of the people in Iran are Shi'a Muslim. This is what puts them together hand in hand.

The two most powerful Shi'a Muslim political parties in Iraq are the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution of Iraq (a.k.a. the SCIRI) and the al-Dawa party.

Both of their leaders were exiled in Iran during the twenty years prior to the deposing of Saddam Hussein.

Both were created in Iran during the twenty years prior to the deposing of Saddam Hussein.

Both have been funded from Iran during the twenty years prior to the deposing of Saddam Hussein.

The SCIRI and the al-Dawa parties are one and the same with Iran.


9/11 + Iraq = Bush's burgeoning extremist Islamic republic!

Where's the outrage?

Posted by: Mustafa | April 17, 2006 01:54 PM

P. J. Casey: Iraq is Arab, and Iran is not Arab.

So what?

The Shi'a Muslims ruling Iraq and Iran read The Qur'an in Arabic.

Before this the Shi'a Muslims now ruling Iraq and partnering with Iran were violently oppressed un SH.

Bush has *inadvertently* empowered Shi'a Muslims ruling Iraq and Iran.

So much American blood and treasure is being spent for an extremist Shi'a Muslim republic.

That is the legacy of Bush and his supporters.

Shame on them!!

Posted by: Ignorance is not Bliss | April 17, 2006 06:14 PM

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