Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Sunni Political Participation in Iraq

  1. #1
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Stafford, VA
    Posts
    262

    Default Sunni Political Participation in Iraq

    While on leave, I am doing my best to read the 30+ articles that I stacked on my desk in my "read" pile. In doing so, I have read much about the significance of the Sunni participation in the political process over the past 7 months. All the "smart-guys" seem to disagree as to whether this is a good sign or not. Cordesman asserts that Sunni political participation in no way indicates that they chose politics over violence, but rather, demonstrates their desire to follow the IRA model, which could complicate things considerably. Are Iraqi Rejectionists truly trying to "derail" the political process or simply using it as an alternative enabler/campaign? Is Sunni participation truly a metric of success for the coalition? Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Strickland; 06-10-2006 at 01:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Strickland
    Are Iraqi Rejectionists truly trying to "derail" the political process or simply using it as an alternative enabler/campaign? Is Sunni participation truly a metric of success for the coalition? Any thoughts?
    The Iraqi Sunni Arabs have yet to present a united political front, so we have a broad spectrum of factions we are dealing with: outright rejectionists, those who are openly attempting to derail the process, those who hope (vainly) to use it as an alternative enabler for the classic strategy of taking over from within, and then, what I personally feel is the tiniest group of them all, the ones who are ready to fully and legitimately participate in the process of creating a representative Iraqi government.

    Sunni participation is a necessary metric that requires very close monitoring - their participation isn't an automatic indicator of success, but their failure to participate is an indicator of failure.

  3. #3
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Stafford, VA
    Posts
    262

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh
    The Iraqi Sunni Arabs have yet to present a united political front, so we have a broad spectrum of factions we are dealing with: outright rejectionists, those who are openly attempting to derail the process, those who hope (vainly) to use it as an alternative enabler for the classic strategy of taking over from within, and then, what I personally feel is the tiniest group of them all, the ones who are ready to fully and legitimately participate in the process of creating a representative Iraqi government.

    Sunni participation is a necessary metric that requires very close monitoring - their participation isn't an automatic indicator of success, but their failure to participate is an indicator of failure.
    Is a failure of what?

  4. #4
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Strickland
    Is a failure of what?
    Pardon me, I should have stated it more clearly. What I meant was, Sunni Arab participation in the new Iraqi government isn't an automatic indicator of that government's future success, but their failure to participate is an indicator of its ultimate failure. Which, at this point, could be catastrophic for our interests.

    Without inclusion of Sunni Arabs in key decision-making processes, they will continue to perceive the new government as an exclusive regime bent on stripping them of everything (many of them have in their heads the way in which the Shi'a were treated over the years, and they are mirror-imaging the identical - or worse - retributive treatment being meted out to them). Too many Sunni Arabs feel that they have little left to lose, and even more feel that they don't have anything to gain by cooperating with the new government.

    A careful reading of reporting that spouts optimism, will show that much of the touted "new levels of Sunni cooperation" is purely tactical, meant to ensure a better local comfort level by getting rid of elements that are rocking their boat or ensuring more equitable distribution of specific items and resources. Strategic cooperation, in the manner of active cooperation with the new government and working towards a truly representative Iraq just ain't happening. Yet.

    Arguably, the appointment of a Sunni Arab as Minister of Defense has a greater potential to defuse elements of the insurgency than does the killing of Zarqawi. But to make a difference in the insurgency, the Sunni Arab members of the government who are elected/appointed need to be seen as active participants in all processes.

    You better believe that the Sunni Arab population is observing all of this closely, to see if their participation is permitted to have a real impact upon policy/decision making processes or is condescendingly set up as a token intended to quiet them down (that's exactly what Saddam did with the Shi'a and Kurds several times in the past). They're not stupid. They are cynical and jaded by decades of Saddam's manipulations of political, tribal, clan and ethnic rivalries and allegiances.

  5. #5
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Stafford, VA
    Posts
    262

    Default

    Would if be a good thing if Sunnis participated in the government simply as a means to check government progress? Is it possible that Sunnis have simply started participating in an attempt to "check" what they perceive to be a growing Kurdish/Shi'ite block? Is it possible that their inclusion will grid-lock the government?

  6. #6
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,098

    Default

    Would if be a good thing if Sunnis participated in the government simply as a means to check government progress?
    No, of course not.

    Is it possible that Sunnis have simply started participating in an attempt to "check" what they perceive to be a growing Kurdish/Shi'ite block?
    You could word that statment another way: the Sunnis have started participating in order to ensure that that their voices are heard and their interests are taken into consideration. Will that "check" some aspects of what the Shi'a and Kurds are pushing for? Certainly. An example of that is the strained negotiations going on over distribution of oil revenues. But this give-and-take between democratically elected representatives is what representative government is all about.

    Is it possible that their inclusion will grid-lock the government?
    Sure. But the government is already faction-ridden - the Shi'a especially - and has not exactly been immune to grid-lock prior to Sunni inclusion.

    In the end, good governance is something the Iraqis really have to work out on their own. Yes, we did apply a little pressure to force inclusion of Sunni Arabs - but elements within the government were already to the point where they appreciated the necessity of restoration over retribution to get the country moving in the right direction. However, there's still a very long way to go and plenty that could go wrong. A catastrophic break-up of the new government could initiate with Kurds refusing to compromise on demands for greater autonomy, or a bitter factional break-up among the Shi'a - problems linked to Sunni Arab inclusion are not the only potential tipping point.

  7. #7
    Council Member Stu-6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Occupied Virginia
    Posts
    243

    Default

    The problem with evaluating “Sunni participation” it that there many different Sunni factions, which have some very different objectives. Some will participate simply in an effort to derail the formation of a new government and will never see a new Iraqi government as legitimate; even inside this group you will have different factions some with religious motivations some more nationalistic. Some will participate to either stop Shiite power, to stop US power, or to gain power for themselves; once again for a variety of reasons. Finally it is worth remembering that participation in government doesn’t rule out participation in the insurgency.

    Bottom line, Sunni participation is probably by in large a good thing but don’t read too much into it.

  8. #8
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SOCAL
    Posts
    2,152

    Default Sunni pullout from the government?

    http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/...eat/index.html

    From Nic Robertson
    CNN

    Adjust font size:
    BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraq's top Sunni official has set a deadline of next week for pulling his entire bloc out of the government -- a potentially devastating blow to reconciliation efforts within Iraq. He also said he turned down an offer by President Bush to visit Washington until he can count more fully on U.S. help.

    Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi made his comments in an interview with CNN. He said if key amendments to the Iraq Constitution are not made by May 15, he will step down and pull his 44 Sunni politicians out of the 275-member Iraqi parliament.

    Seems we are going to find ourselves over a barrel shortly...

  9. #9
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,665

    Default

    GEN Petraeus already noted what should be obvious to all:

    Moreover, it is not a government of national unity. Rather, it is one comprised of political leaders from different parties that often default to narrow agendas and a zero-sum approach to legislation.

  10. #10
    Council Member Danny's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Charlotte, North Carolina
    Posts
    141

    Default Maliki Assists U.S. Enemies

    Maliki has not only helped the enemies of the U.S., but has worked to undermine Iraqi security, if security is defined as reconciliation. But as long as the U.S. administration (and in particular, the State Department) has an irrational devotion and commitment to Maliki, we may be doomed. Best to throw our weight in behind Allawi and a secular government. Time is so very short. So very short.

    Iraqi Governing Coalition Set to Collapse

  11. #11
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,665

    Default

    Looking towards Allawi and a "secular" coalition may not be the answer. AQI and the Sunni insurgents are both dedicated to defeating the U.S. first and foremost. Meanwhile if the U.S. looks as if it is behind the ejection of the UIA and the Maliki government, we may spark an open Shia rebellion from both SCIRI and the Mahdi Army. Iran would feel free to come in heavy on the Shia side. Large parts of the Iraqi Army and Interior Ministry would become untrustworthy, to say the least.

    We could very well trade what is mostly a Sunni insurgency now for a much more violent Shia/Sunni insurgency combined with a multisided civil war, with only a tattered secular Iraqi coalition (most of whose constituents have already fled the country) and the Kurds on our side.

  12. #12
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SOCAL
    Posts
    2,152

    Default

    I mulled this over on the way to work, and started to ask myself what the Sunni leadership would actually stand to gain with a move like this. It would seem to outweight the gains they have made thus far, and pulling out would only send the embryonic government into cardiac arrest.

    Thoughts?

  13. #13
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,665

    Default

    Jcustis - If I were them, I would wonder exactly what I have gained thusfar from participation. Some analysts estimate that the Sunni population of Baghdad is under 20% now --- before 2005 it was something like 45%.

    Just a WAG, but it may have been partly precipitated by this.

    ...

    The newly assertive Anbar sheikhs – emboldened by their fight to drive Al Qaeda elements from the province – are eager to carve out a political role for themselves.

    "The governor is a dictator. He's the source of all evil in the province," says the governor's deputy, Sheikh Moayad Ibrahim al-Humaishi, who is also a leading member of the Anbar Salvation Council, the collection of tribal leaders that rallied against Al Qaeda.

    The governor, Mamoun Samir Rashid, belongs to the Iraqi Islamic Party, one of the country's main Sunni political parties. He's also a member of the Bu-Alwan tribe, which traditionally has more influence inside the city. Now, for his protection, Mr. Rashid is driven from home to work by US marines.

    The struggle among tribes for power in Ramadi – which threatens to undo much of the US success – can be seen being played out throughout the city.

    At one of the many elaborate luncheons of lamb and rice that take place nearly every day to fete what Mr. Humaishi describes as the "legendary victories" of the tribesmen over Al Qaeda, tribal leaders gather to often rail against the injustices of rival Shiites who control the government.

    "[Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki is helpless. He's a man that wants to make things happen but he's shackled by black-turbaned clerics in his government," proclaimed the leader of the Bu-Dhiab tribe, to which Humaishi belongs.

    At another meeting of one of Ramadi's newly established district councils, shepherded by marines and designed to identify the immediate reconstruction needs of the city, sparks flew again when only seven of the 21 members showed up.

    "I am going to fire them all," said Saad Hamed Albu-Alwani, a relative of the governor, accusing some members of his council who are loyal to the Salvation Council sheikhs of trying to subvert his authority.

    Colonel Charlton admits there are problems. Now, he says, the US military acts as a moderator.

    "We definitely play a referee function here sometimes because our interest is keeping all these groups in cooperation with each other and moving forward on continuing to secure Ramadi and the rebuilding effort."
    But as the different parties bicker, needs remain unmet. Only seven police stations are open inside Ramadi. Most have heavy US Marine and Army presence.

  14. #14
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    1,188

    Default

    Feudal lords want their fiefdoms - there is enough external Sunni cash available to sustain them, they've got alot of manpower/fighters, enclaves of their own kind, a long tradition of tribalism and sheik paternalism V. the big unknown of representative government, voting, power sharing and working with infidels is just too much to handle at this point in time. They can't be readily bribed I suspect and the ROE and the Constitution prevent other considerations to this dilemma. Good guys can only play by the rules they set and if somehow the American people can wait it out for another 7-9 years and if the COIN strategy is given free reign, all will be well. That's asking alot from Mom and Pop America though, isn't it?

  15. #15
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DeRidder LA
    Posts
    3,949

    Default Playing the Tribal Card

    Colonel Charlton admits there are problems. Now, he says, the US military acts as a moderator.

    "We definitely play a referee function here sometimes because our interest is keeping all these groups in cooperation with each other and moving forward on continuing to secure Ramadi and the rebuilding effort."
    But as the different parties bicker, needs remain unmet. Only seven police stations are open inside Ramadi. Most have heavy US Marine and Army presence.
    I am reminded of the last few scenes of Lawrence of Arabia when Lawrence is hosting the tribal elders in a futile attempt to keep the electricity running, meanwhile Allenby and his political advisor wait for the electricity to go out so they can take over. It does. They do.

    The turn to the tribes is understandable and has offered immediate gains. It is also Faustian in nature. The tribes are not interested in the long term status of an Iraqi nation. They are interested in the long term status of the tribes.

    Tom

  16. #16
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    SOCAL
    Posts
    2,152

    Default

    The turn to the tribes is understandable and has offered immediate gains. It is also Faustian in nature. The tribes are not interested in the long term status of an Iraqi nation. They are interested in the long term status of the tribes.
    Perhaps the best balance would be to take a chapter from Saddam's playbook, eh?

    Keep the dominance of the tribes intact, and allow them to maintain the same (or at least similar) free reign they did under Saddam. If I remember correctly, he maintained their allegiance through economic concessions, pseudo-autonomy in certain realms, and turned a blind eye to the occasional smuggling ventures. Now, we couldn't possibly be that laid back about it, but unless the central government is able to give those economic guarantees after the coalition has backed away, there aren't going to be enough carrots for the coaxing. This is just another nut we have to crack, and I wonder how much the PRTs are working on this issue.

    I see what you're saying Tom, and in those Tatooine-like places of Rutbah, Qaim, and Husaybah, the folks there have always lived on the fringe and done pretty much their own thing. It came at the price of a culture of graft and corruption, mind you, but I agree that the sense of an "Iraqi Nation" was probably never all that strong.

    And I see what you're saying goesh. Saudi Arabia's intentions, should full-blown civil war kick off, have been beaten to death by the bloglist. What if there are back channel discussions going on right now, where other states (to include the Kingdom) are providing assurance that if Al Anbar solidifies itself as a recalcitrant break-away province, the Sunnis there will be taken care of through infusions of hard cash? The model has worked before with Hamas

  17. #17
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,665

    Default

    Sunnis give al-Maliki one week to rein in Shiite militias.

    ...


    But Sunni politicians said Tuesday that they're serious about pulling out of parliament over what they say is Maliki's reluctance to share power. Maliki is a Shiite.


    Meanwhile, rumors are swirling that loyalists of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also are considering breaking away from the Shiites' United Iraqi Alliance in the legislature, a move that would rob that ruling political bloc of its slim majority.


    Sadr followers denied that, but they said the cleric has asked them to reach out to rival Sunni groups.


    The threat to the Maliki government comes as sectarian violence appears to be on the rise. On five of the last seven days, the number of unidentified bodies found on Baghdad's streets has surpassed 25, a significant increase over previous weeks.


    U.S. officials have cited the decline of bodies as evidence that the surge of U.S. troops into Baghdad was succeeding in calming violence. U.S. officials have said easing violence would help Maliki's government reach a political solution to the tensions.


    But a weaker Maliki government would make that outcome less likely.

    The threat to Maliki's government from the Sunnis - who could find themselves shut out of the government should Maliki call their bluff - surfaced in a meeting between the prime minister and Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi on Monday night.


    Hashemi later told CNN that unless crucial changes are made to the constitution in the next week and Maliki clamps down on Shiite militia violence against Sunnis, he'll leave the vice presidency and yank 44 Sunni politicians from the 275-member parliament.


    "I will tell my constituency frankly that I have made the mistake of my life when I put my endorsement to that national accord," Hashemi said, referring to the agreement that led to Maliki's ascension to the prime minister's post.


    Hashemi said that particularly important to his faction are constitutional guarantees that bar partitioning of the country into federal states that would split territory among Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish areas - a move widely seen to put Sunnis at a disadvantage. Although Sunnis flourished under the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, today they hold sway only in areas of the country where the promise of oil reserves is poorest.

    Hashemi is also calling on Maliki to disarm Shiite militias, which are seen as responsible for sectarian killings and displacement of Sunnis.



    Without the Sunni vice president active in the government, the hope of bridging the increasingly violent split between majority Shiites and minority Sunnis becomes dimmer. And pressure is only increasing on the prime minister to broaden his government to all sects ...

  18. #18
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Manhattan, KS
    Posts
    50

    Default

    It's not going to happen, at least not in any permanent kind of sense. Al-Maliki depends on the militias to support his coalition. His security forces are thoroughly infiltrated by the militias. If he goes against them the best he can hope for is that he'll just get pushed out of office...but it's just as likely he'd end up dead.

    Plus, all of this assumes that he even wants to rein the militias in. And why should he as long as he's got the U.S. military there to protect him from the consequences of Sunni retaliation?

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •