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Old 07-22-2007   #1
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Default White House Wants Iraqi Leaders to Reach 'Political Accommodation'

22 July Washington Post - White House Wants Iraqi Leaders to Reach 'Political Accommodation' by Michael Abramowitz.

Quote:
Having won a two-month reprieve from Congress to demonstrate progress in Iraq, the White House does not intend to give up on trying to forge a grand political bargain among Iraq's sectarian leaders, even though such a deal has proved elusive since the 2003 invasion, administration officials said.

The officials said they hope to develop the framework through which competing factions can sort out their differences and enact a national oil law, pass legislation aimed at bringing ex-Baathists into the government and demonstrate progress on other measures aimed at achieving national reconciliation...
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Old 07-30-2007   #2
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Default Interior Ministry mirrors chaos of a fragmented Iraq

Interior Ministry mirrors chaos of a fragmented Iraq - LATIMES, 30 July.
Quote:
The colonel pulls his Mercedes into the parking lot of the drab, 11-story concrete building, scanning the scene for suspicious cars.

Before reaching for the door handle, he studies the people loitering nearby in hopes he will be able to recognize anyone still there later in the day. He grips his pistol, the trigger cocked, wary of an ambush.

He has arrived at his office.

This is Iraq's Ministry of Interior — the balkanized command center for the nation's police and mirror of the deadly factions that have caused the government here to grind nearly to a halt.

The very language that Americans use to describe government — ministries, departments, agencies — belies the reality here of militias that kill under cover of police uniform and remain above the law. Until recently, one or two Interior Ministry police officers were assassinated each week while arriving or leaving the building, probably by fellow officers, senior police officials say.

That killing has been reduced, but Western diplomats still describe the Interior Ministry building as a "federation of oligarchs." Those who work in the building, like the colonel, liken departments to hostile countries. Survival depends on keeping abreast of shifting factional alliances and turf ...
Worth reading in whole. A very interesting take on the sordid history of the Iraqi MoI.
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Old 08-01-2007   #3
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Default Sunni bloc pulls out of Iraqi government

This will not help <sigh>.

Quote:
Sunni bloc pulls out of Iraqi government
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 1, 2007 | 8:27 AM ET
The Associated Press

Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political bloc announced its withdrawal from the government Wednesday, undermining Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to seek reconciliation among the country's rival factions.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to promote unity among the country's factions might be undermined by the withdrawal of the Sunni Arab political bloc from government.Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to promote unity among the country's factions might be undermined by the withdrawal of the Sunni Arab political bloc from government.

More...
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Old 08-01-2007   #4
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Default Posturing by pullout

Marc,

This seems to be a weekly occurrence by one faction or another and they all seem to come back when nothing happens. I think it is part of the structural problem with the current constitution. It appears to be designed to avoid the "tyranny of the majority" and instead favors a status quo enforced by minorities. It appears to be impossible to just call an up or down vote on an issue or a leader. By guaranteeing the "rights" of minorities they seem to have guaranteed inaction.

That being said, the current focus on the "benchmarks" seems misplaced. When you look at the underlying premise of the bench marks, i.e. reconciliation, it appears to be happening without the politicians. Perhaps that should be a bigger concern for the politicians. If the purpose was to stop the Sunni fight against the government, that appears to be happening without the legislation.
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Old 08-01-2007   #5
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Default Deals With the Devil

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Originally Posted by marct View Post

Quote:
Sunni bloc pulls out of Iraqi government
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 1, 2007 | 8:27 AM ET
The Associated Press

Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political bloc announced its withdrawal from the government Wednesday, undermining Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to seek reconciliation among the country's rival factions.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to promote unity among the country's factions might be undermined by the withdrawal of the Sunni Arab political bloc from government.Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's efforts to promote unity among the country's factions might be undermined by the withdrawal of the Sunni Arab political bloc from government.

This will not help <sigh>.
That's OK...the Sunnis are now our anti-AQI Allies

Sorry for the cynicism but this was entirely predictable. We have and are endorsing these groups as distinct entities with a right and obligation to arm themselves in defense of the goals they set for themselves--at least as long as they are against AQI. Faust got the deal he asked for...

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Old 08-01-2007   #6
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I don't think you're being too cynical, Tom . I just expect that it will get picked p by the pols and used as more fodder for a "pull the troops home" move. Anyway, I always thought it would make more sense for Iraq to operate on a confederal basis that on a federal basis.
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Old 08-01-2007   #7
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Quote:
I always thought it would make more sense for Iraq to operate on a confederal basis that on a federal basis.
I always thought it was nearly inevitable if we removed the lynch pin of the previous regime but in a much messier fashion than implied the word confederal. I see another but larger version of Lebanon if the state or concept of Iraq holds together.

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Old 08-01-2007   #8
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So Tom, who do you think gets to play the role of the Syrians in this particular Civil War scenario? The U.S.? The Iranians? Perhaps the Turks?
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Old 08-01-2007   #9
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Actually all three plus others

Iran as the overall spoiler and backer of the Shia

The Saudis and Jordanians backing the Sunnis (probably with under the table support from Syria's Sunni majority.

The Turks as a counter to the Kurds

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Old 08-05-2007   #10
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Default Omar at Iraq the Model

The Untimely Recess

Quote:
I suppose Petraeus will not have a difficulty in showing progress military-wise but the question is, could that be enough to make up for the damage done by these political setbacks?

There's no question that achieving a dramatic military victory in 30 days is very unlikely when we're fighting terrorists and militias. On the other hand reversing the political damage dealt by the two developments in 30 days seems to need something close to a miracle.

These developments show that a majority in our parliament care only about themselves and their blocs' interests much more than they do about the country's in such difficult time and their attitude tells that the blocs don't want to work together and don’t want to reconcile their differences.
Like we always said, we don't need reconciliation among the people, we need reconciliation among the components of the political class and if they don't want to do this then I think the best solution to ensure a fresh political start would be to change the political class through early elections once the security situation allows for. And to do this Iraq will need the "surge" to continue for several months beyond September.

One thing makes me worried these days and I'm afraid that someone is planning a different bad solution. The rift between the minister of defense and the senior commanders including chief of staff of the army which led to a group resignation is an ominous sign that indicates a deep dispute between the two leaderships and this dispute seems to be over a political issue given their history in the military institution.
It would be too early to speculate that someone is planning a coup-or preparing to crush one-at this point but the mere thought of it remains a little bit scary.
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Old 08-31-2007   #11
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Default Shi'ite's Tale: How Gulf With Sunnis Widened

Shi'ite's Tale: How Gulf With Sunnis Widened - NYTIMES, 31 Aug.

Quote:
Shatha al-Musawi, a Shiite member of Parliament, first encountered the Sunni-Shiite divide on the day the Americans captured Saddam Hussein. Hearing the news with a close Sunni friend named Sahira, Ms. Musawi erupted like a child.

“I jumped, I shouted, I came directly to Sahira and I hugged her,” Ms. Musawi said. “I was crying, and I said, ‘Sahira, this is the moment we waited for.’ ”

At least it should have been: Mr. Hussein’s henchmen killed Ms. Musawi’s father when she was only 13; Sahira, too, was a victim, losing her closest uncle to the Hussein government.

But instead of celebrating, Sahira stood stiffly. A day later, Ms. Musawi said, Sahira’s eyes were red from crying. And before long, like so many Sunnis and Shiites here, the two stopped talking ...
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Old 09-01-2007   #12
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Default Iraqi civilian deaths climb again

Iraqi civilian deaths climb again - LATIMES, 1 Sep.

Quote:
Bombings, sectarian slayings and other violence related to the war killed at least 1,773 Iraqi civilians in August, the second month in a row that civilian deaths have risen, according to government figures obtained Friday.

In July, the civilian death toll was 1,753, and in June it was 1,227. The numbers are based on morgue, hospital and police records and come from officials in the ministries of Health, Defense and the Interior. The statistics appear to indicate that the increase in troops ordered by President Bush this year has done little to curb civilian bloodshed, despite U.S. military statements to the contrary.

Military officials have said the security plan is showing progress because the number of attacks on civilians has decreased and sectarian killings have dropped. The security plan, which began in February, has put an additional 28,500 U.S. troops in Baghdad and other trouble spots.

The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, is expected to cite such indicators when he presents an assessment of the security plan to Congress this month.

The U.S. military says the numbers it gathers are lower than those provided by Iraqi ministries, but it does not release them. But it has said that the monthly civilian death toll from sectarian killings, which do not include all bombings, has dropped to about 1,000 per month from 1,200 per month early this year.

The latest Iraqi government figures show that from an initial drop in civilian deaths after the president's plan was launched Feb. 13, deaths quickly climbed back nearly to previous levels.

The numbers indicate that even if the number of attacks has dropped, their lethality may have increased.

In January, the month before the extra troops began arriving, 2,076 Iraqi civilians were killed in violence related to the war, according to Iraqi officials. In February, the first month of the security plan, the number dropped to 1,646. In March, it reached 1,872. April saw 1,500 people killed, and in May the figure rose to 1,949. In June, the month in which the last extra troops arrived in the country, 1,227 people were slain.

Various factors can skew the numbers. Baghdad, usually the most violent part of the country, experienced a four-day curfew in June after the bombing of a key Shiite shrine in Samarra, north of the capital. Other cities also were under curfews, which helped keep violence at bay.

But July and August each saw massive bomb blasts that killed scores of civilians and sent numbers soaring ...
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Old 09-07-2007   #13
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Default Maliki reaches out to Sunnis in Anbar

Iraq's Maliki reaches out to Sunnis in Anbar Province - CSMONITOR, 7 Sep.
Quote:
Key members of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government made a rare trip to the Sunni bastion of Anbar Province Thursday to pledge more than $120 million in reconstruction money. Iraqi and US officials call it a significant step toward political reconciliation. Critics say it's too little, too late.

Mr. Maliki did not make the trip, but dispatched top deputies who met with Sunni sheikhs, Anbar officials, US Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, who was there as part of a tour through Iraq.

The overture to war-torn Anbar, long an insurgent stronghold where Sunni tribes have joined the US fight against Al Qaeda in Iraq, comes as Maliki is facing criticism from both US lawmakers and Iraq's Sunni politicians for failing to mend widening political and sectarian fault lines within the government ...

This is the best news I've read in awhile. Hopefully this will result in some meaningful connection between the central government and the new Sunni tribal alliance.

The article is not specific as to how the aid will be channeled or when it will be delivered - I think this will be key. Will it go through the provincial gov in Ramadi, with hopefully sticky fingers kept to a minimum? Or will it be disbursed directly to the tribal leaders? Will tribal leaders get to split the new jobs promised?
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Old 09-29-2007   #14
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Fires Bulletin, Jul-Aug 07: Reconciliation in Iraq: Is it Acheivable?
Quote:
....One of the new initiatives currently being implemented is “reconciliation.” General Petraeus recently addressed the people of Iraq (by letter) and urged them not only to reject violence, but to embrace reconciliation. As repeated by many political leaders in Iraq, now is the time for all Iraqis to join together and create the consensus needed to unite in pursuit of a common future.

Although this future does not include extremist groups, it does include Arabs, Kurds, Turkomen and Assyrians, Sunnis, Shi’as, Christians and Yezidis—all living together, respectful of tribal, ethnic and religious differences and bound by their belief in a government that serves all Iraqis. The Coalition Forces are focused on this objective; but to be achievable, success depends on the Iraqis wanting to reconcile.

This article reviews the reconciliation template in Iraq and compares it to similar initiatives used in Northern Ireland and other similar situations. The information used in this article is unclassified and available through open sources and often includes my personal opinion, not necessarily the opinions of the Coalition Forces.....
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Old 12-14-2007   #15
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USIP, 13 Dec 07: Political Progress in Iraq During the Surge
Quote:
Summary

• The military surge that was launched in February 2007 has improved the security situation in Baghdad and adjacent regions. It has curbed sectarian violence in the capital and reduced the freedom of action and the support base of insurgents and terrorists in the central governorates.

• The rationale for the surge was to provide an opportunity for political agreements to be negotiated among Iraqis, but political progress has been stalled and has not matched the security improvements.

• A political settlement is essential for sustaining the security gains and for longer-term stability. Despite the declaration of a national reconciliation plan by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki in June 2006, by the fall of 2007 only limited progress had been made toward reconciling the differences between the political groups and forging a national agenda.

• The dominance of sectarian political groups has fueled polarization, and the inability of the government and Parliament to adopt crucial legislation is a measure of continuing distrust between the groups. Serious political dialogue between the sect-based parties has proved difficult and the results are limited.

• At the same time intra-sectarian rivalries are increasing, particularly in the southern governorates, where the Sadris and the Islamic Supreme Council in Iraq vie for political and economic control of the region.

• Iraqi institutions have lost ground in the past year. Iraqi ministers from Sunni, Shia, and secular groups have withdrawn from the cabinet, adversely affecting the performance of the government.

• The sectarian blocs that entered Parliament in December 2005 have lost their cohesiveness. The Shia United Iraqi Alliance has unraveled, and the Sunni Tawafuq coalition is strained. The emergence of tribal forces in Anbar governorate presents opportunities and challenges to the Sunnis and the Shia alike.

• As the sectarian blocs weaken and the Anbar tribes seek a political role, new alliances are beginning to emerge, and some may succeed in crossing sectarian and regional divides.

• The debate in Washington has been restricted to the level and duration of U.S. troop presence in Iraq. In the coming months, the debate should turn to means of supporting the political process and strengthening governance in Iraq as a path to stability.

• Bottom-up approaches to reconciliation and accommodation do not obviate the need for a broader political settlement. The United States should support a sustained international mediation effort led by the UN Security Council resulting in an Iraqi compact endorsed by Iraq’s neighbors and the international community.

• Iraqi efforts to develop cross-sectarian political alliances and national platforms need to be encouraged. The incorporation of the Anbar tribes into national politics is important to sustaining security gains.

• A competent national government in Baghdad is essential to the long-term stability of Iraq. A weak government will be unable to ensure the internal and external security of the country or manage revenues. More effort and resources are needed to strengthen the competence and effectiveness of the Iraqi government.
Complete 20 page paper at the link.
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Old 01-31-2008   #16
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USIP, 30 Jan 08: Iraq: Politics Unfrozen, Direction Still Unclear
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In meetings conducted in Beirut and Baghdad in mid-January 2008, a high-ranking and broad cross-section of the Iraqi political spectrum expressed views on the current political situation, main priorities for the next year, prospects for moving forward on key issues, and the American military presence in Iraq. The Iraqis, numbering about 40, included parliamentary leaders, members of the presidency and their staffs, top government officials and leaders in both the Anbar and Baghdad "Awakenings" (tribal groups prepared to fight Al Qaeda and guard their own neighborhoods).

This USIPeace Briefing summarizes the key results of these meetings, which occurred during a sharp decline in violence from the levels experienced in 2006 and early 2007.....
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Old 02-28-2008   #17
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From McClatchey News Services:

Quote:
Homepage Iraqi leaders veto law Bush administration hailed as political breakthrough
By Steve Lannen | McClatchy Newspapers

BAGHDAD — Iraq's three-man presidency council Wednesday announced that it's vetoed legislation that U.S. officials two weeks ago hailed as significant political progress.

Also Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said he hoped that Turkey's incursion into northern Iraq to fight Kurdish rebels would last a "week or two" but "not months."

Turkish news agencies reported that as many as 77 guerrillas were killed the night before in the most violent night of the week-old incursion on Iraq's northern border. A rebel spokesman said fighters for the Kurdish Workers Party, known as the PKK, had killed 18 Turkish soldiers.

The rejected bill, which sets out the political structure for Iraq's provincial governments and establishes a basis for elections in October, was only the second of 18 U.S.-set political benchmarks that the war-tore nation needs to reach.

Parliament considered it in a bundle with two other bills, a general amnesty and a budget, and approved it on Feb. 12 in what was welcomed in Washington as an example of good government, compromise and progress toward national unity.
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Old 02-29-2008   #18
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I'm just thinking here that the UN madates haven't run out yet and just perhaps some people might need to be reminded that it doesn't necessarily have to take a full political agreement between all parties to get a new nationwide referendum vote ( or something of the sort)

Along with governance comes responsibility and if certain parties are completely unwilling to fulfill that responsibility to their country men wellll ????

I say no less about other soveriegn countries around the world and this one has a little more to prove than even some of the others

.....Evolve or Revolve....

(forgive the random rant)
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