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Uboat509
01-11-2007, 05:24 AM
I was sitting through a briefing on Iraq today and it got me thinking about Maliki. He is increasingly looking like a nonentity to me. He has generally appeared to defer to al-Sadr and the Saddam execution did nothing to disabuse the notion that the Mahdi Army has undue influence. It is hardly a secret that he is in power because of political support from al-Sadr but I don't think anyone expected him to be so beholden to al-Sadr. At best he seems to be just another talking head in Baghdad and at worst an actual impediment to peace. I am hoping that if we can manage to create some security in Iraq that perhaps fewer people will feel the need to join or remain in the militias which may reduce some of al-Sadr's power and allow Maliki to act like the leader of Iraq instead of the leader of Shia Iraq.

SFC W

SSG Rock
01-19-2007, 07:23 PM
I think many of us have begun to think along these lines. Malaki is playing a dangerous game if this is indeed what he is doing. Even President Bush won't be able to tolerate this for long and Malaki will end up being replaced, or find himself at the end of a noose! If he wants our support for as long as possible he has no choice, he's got to move on the militias. Watching the news over the last 48 hours, there are reports that some 400 members of Al-Sadr's militia have been taken into custody. Lets hope they don't escape :D , I suspect Malaki is at a crossroads, and he knows it.

dusty
01-20-2007, 01:59 PM
, he's got to move on the militias. .


I agree, but how would he do that without eroding popular support? The central gov't is just as much of a nonentity as he is. JAM, Mahdi and the rest are the guys who have boots on the ground and run the day to day lives of the Iraqis in many of the cities. If Maliki attacks the militia, he has to have a force to do it with. The ISF are crippled with members who gave their loyalty to a militia and just show up every now and again for a paycheck.

120mm
01-21-2007, 09:53 AM
The "wishful thinking" part of me would have liked to see "militias" worked into any political solution.

jcustis
01-22-2007, 05:31 PM
Al-Sadr sends representatives back to their government positions, has militiamen stop brandishing weapons in the open, but hasn't demobilized his forces and relinquished areas under control...

It looks like he is playing us hardcore right now, offering just enough carrots and concessions our way to stay off the skyline. I'll bet there is a considerable amount of back-channel maneuvering going on, and deals are still being cut by Maliki even now.

I do not believe that he has the sincerity and conviction to see Sadr and the Mahdi Army put down. He just doesn't have enough ploitical capital to do it, and if the sovereign government is allowed to take point on the issue, it will never be resolved.

Unless coalition forces are in the lead and tell Sadr that he has "X days to demobilize his militias", the Mahdi is simply going to decrease its profile for a while and wait until this blows over. Maliki can waive the banner that he has brought Sadr to heel, but that will be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

If we do go after the Madhi full bore, cordon Sadr City, and flush out all the militiamen and heavy weapons (if it's at all possible), the Maliki government will surely fall. For that reason, I suppose the next announcement will be along the lines that neighborhood militias will give up their heavier crew-served weapons, but will be responsible for local population security in conjunction with IP and IA elements. Sort of a beefed up neighborhood watch. It will be a compromise that looks palatable, because Maliki will have cried to the coalition that he has to do it or risk further fractures in the government.

If that proposal is ever laid on the table, we will surely be screwed.

We believe that Sadr and his band of merry men are not condusive to long-term stability in Baghdad or the Hillah - Najaf corridor. Maliki does not have the power to eradicate their de-stabilizing influence without causing open fighting on the scale of Najaf 2004. Were is all this really headed, because it sounds like a lot of wind to me?

EDITED TO ADD: And as the two recent car-bombings have indicated, we should expect an insurgent surge to meet our surge, aimed at further eroding American will to support an increased footprint for a new strategy. I cautiously predict that we will see several spectacular incidents (mass civilian casualties) over the next 30 days to try to tip with willpower scales.

Maliki and Ray Nagin bear a striking resemblance.

jcustis
01-29-2007, 03:45 PM
EDITED TO ADD: And as the two recent car-bombings have indicated, we should expect an insurgent surge to meet our surge, aimed at further eroding American will to support an increased footprint for a new strategy. I cautiously predict that we will see several spectacular incidents (mass civilian casualties) over the next 30 days to try to tip with willpower scales.

If we are to believe reporting that Sistani and other clerics were the targets of the massed insurgents in Najaf, then a counter-surge may already have begun. Perhaps this will be their Tet, grand and bold, but a tactical failure. We must make sure that it doesn't become an IO failure for us in the process, as many historians point to Tet as the beginning of the downward slide for us then. All we need now is to await the bold dash into the Green Zone any day now, with a suicidal attack on a meeting of elected government leaders.

These guys are good, and are definitely following history's lessons. I am still perplexed about targetting Sistani though, if the claims are true. A martyred Sistani would, in my view, unleash the wrath of Shi'a backlash that would certainly send the country into the abyss. Why would they do that? I could understand eroding the coalition's will through somewhat high-profile attacks and continuing the slog to cause casualties, but could the Sunni insurgents really expect to kill Sistani and not have an open civil war the next day? Could the Sadrists expect to do it?

Then again, it may all just be more wild rumor, as tequila has offered in another thread: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=2061

What I don't understand is why we aren't beating that IO drum to a crescendo right now, separating fact from fiction and removing grist from the rumor mill.

tequila
01-29-2007, 04:05 PM
Likely because our own sources of information aren't very good. Our contacts in the Iraqi government aren't reliable and our own intel services don't have much more to offer. Our troops are handicapped by lack of good, reliable translators. I mean, who really knows what's going on in Iraq? Were these dead people in Najaf dangerous cultists out to kill the Hawza, or were they just a bunch of political opponents of SCIRI gathering for Ashura? Maybe we'll never know. Either way, it appears that American gunships and tanks were involved in killing them.

tequila
05-21-2007, 08:29 AM
Iraqi Leadership's Failures Raise Pressure on U.S. (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-usmaliki21may21,1,1287012,print.story) - LATIMES, 21 May.

Interesting article that raises the possibility of a U.S. parliamentary "coup" against Maliki.


...

Intervention "is the eternal temptation for the Americans," said one U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing internal deliberations. "As we get closer and closer to the fall, and the benchmarks are not met there will be a growing appeal to the idea that if we can replace the top guy, we can get back on track."

Although U.S. officials vow not to meddle in the government they helped to create, they have brought their influence to bear again and again, including in Maliki's selection as prime minister in early 2006. In January of this year, top U.S. officials considered, and narrowly rejected, a proposal to try to reorganize the fractious political order around a new moderate coalition.

Americans could spur change through a multitude of diplomatic channels and could use their influence with other Iraqi groups and leaders to shake up the political order in Baghdad. For instance, Washington could encourage a parliamentary no-confidence vote on Maliki, then quietly work a new coalition to choose a leader to its liking, analysts said ...


Onetime CIA asset Iyad Allawi and current VP Abdel Abdul Mehdi of SCIRI/SIIC are possible replacements.

tequila
08-29-2007, 02:33 PM
Interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/v-print/story/19316.html)- McClatchy, 29 Aug.
Comments I found interesting:



FADEL: So do you believe it is helpful or harmful for the U.S. to remain as they work with some Sunni groups, that you criticized?

MALIKI: ... The support for the Sunnis is something we do not accept because we do not agree to support either Sunnis or Shiites. I have made a pledge to deal with matters according to state law and citizens regardless of their affiliations. Our responsibility is to break down the barriers that have been erected recently between Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Kurds in the interest of national unity. I do not support these practices of sectarianism; therefore we have commissioned a committee to deal with all those who wish for national reconciliation, a central committee that is to regulate dealings with them not on a sectarian basis but on a national basis ...

I confirm that the positive development in the security situation is owed to national reconciliation much more than to our security forces or coalition troops. Some would want to hide this fact, but it is a fact not to be hidden.




FADEL: Do you ever feel that the system itself is flawed? A Sunni tribal sheik described you as a nationalist, but a pen that couldn't write because you were caught between two fists and every finger is a party.

MALIKI: The picture you draw is indeed close to reality. Truly the political process is a novel experience for Iraqis. The political parties want to pressure me into concessions and I want the interest of Iraq to dominate all. I admit there is a flaw, it is the immaturity of our people regarding the political project and it's principles ...

The other mistake that helped support this phenomenon was that initially the government was based upon sectarian quota for which the civil governor that held office at that time (Bremer) is to blame. The idea existed and he can't be blamed for suggesting it, but he should have rejected it altogether. Instead he accepted and encouraged the principle as a basis for our political system ...



FADEL: What about Muqtada al Sadr? Do you visit him?

MALIKI: I visited him once before I became prime minister and once after. The visits were positive. In the second visit I spoke to him about the ministries held by Sadrist ministers and that their administration should be on correct lines away from sectarian favoritism. I mentioned some violations and, to tell the truth for history's sake, his attitude was very positive. He expressed his wish to withdraw from the partnership and that I was to be the one to choose their replacements. After that there were no more visits or meetings.

FADEL: Why not, at this time, when there are troubled relations, and the Mahdi Army is being accused of killing governors and running astray?

MALIKI: I have no problem with meeting him. But he withdrew from the challenges to a large degree and he has big problems within the movement. That is why I have meetings with leaders from the movement but not with Muqtada and I have many efforts for reform and to bridge the mistakes through bilateral or more dialogue. Perhaps what is holding back our talks is my firm rejection of the policies adopted by the movement. And I believe some leaders have begun to understand my position and accept it as the correct position in spite of my firmness. Indeed now is the time for meetings but I believe that meeting the leaders who actually represent the movement is more to the point and more effective in quelling the situation and in isolating the gangs from the good elements and cadres in the movement.

MattC86
08-30-2007, 03:28 AM
Interesting interview, - I've heard a lot of reports of tension between Petraeus' team and the PM, clearly the difference in how the two sides view cooperation with the Sunnis; the Americans see it as their greatest victory, al-Maliki as a potential defeat.

Anyway, sorry to go off topic, but I know there's a few Arabic speakers here - does anyone know of al-Maliki is derivied from malik, the Arabic word for King? I've only taken two years and my instructor wasn't sure.

Certainly would be painfully ironic if Iraq's first legitimately elected PM was named King.

Matt

Sarajevo071
08-30-2007, 04:36 AM
Interesting interview, - I've heard a lot of reports of tension between Petraeus' team and the PM, clearly the difference in how the two sides view cooperation with the Sunnis; the Americans see it as their greatest victory, al-Maliki as a potential defeat.

Anyway, sorry to go off topic, but I know there's a few Arabic speakers here - does anyone know of al-Maliki is derivied from malik, the Arabic word for King? I've only taken two years and my instructor wasn't sure.

Certainly would be painfully ironic if Iraq's first legitimately elected PM was named King.

Matt

Malik - Master, angel, king

tequila
08-30-2007, 08:42 AM
I think the most interesting part of the interview is where he says that Muqtada doesn't have enough power to make him worth meeting anymore - he'd rather meet directly with Sadrist faction leaders.