Iraq and Gulf Analysis

An Iraq Blog by a Victim of the Human Rights Crimes of the Norwegian Government

Archive for October, 2008

The Map of Electoral Coalitions South of Baghdad Is Taking Shape

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 31 October 2008 18:43

After a long series of extensions, it now seems as if the final deadline for forming coalitions for the next local elections in Iraq will be on 2 November 2008. The first announcement of coalitions among the Shiite Islamist parties is one of the indicators that suggest the coalition-forming process could be coming to an end… Full story here.

Posted in UIA dynamics | Comments Off

SOFA Issues

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 20 October 2008 17:55

The leaking of the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) and the more general strategical framework deal between the United States and Iraq has been so gradual that few surprises remained by the time most details were finally considered to be in the public domain last week. Full story here.

Posted in US policy in Iraq: Leverage issues | Comments Off

The End of Soft Partition

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 20 October 2008 17:54

The last time Peter Galbraith wrote a book about Iraq, the title summed up the problems of the entire volume: based on his own, highly idiosyncratic reading of Iraqi history, Galbraith prematurely announced “The End of Iraq”. However, in his new book on Iraq, the title is nothing short of brilliant: “Unintended Consequences: How War in Iraq Strengthened America’s Enemies”. That is by all accounts a crisp summary of some of the main problems that have afflicted US policy in Iraq ever since 2003. So does it mean that Galbraith’s latest offering is an improvement on his previous one? Full story here.

Posted in Iraq and soft partition | Comments Off

Maliki’s Awakening in the South

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 8 October 2008 0:00

The reports keep getting more persistent: Nuri al-Maliki is apparently building ties to southern tribes at the expense of – and sometimes to loud protests from – ISCI and Badr. The latest case to receive some attention in the Iraqi press is Nasiriyya and Dhi Qar. Today, leaders of the recently-formed “support councils” (majalis asnad) of Dhi Qar will meet with local security officials, including the police chief (who was appointed by the Iraqi interior ministry and with the support of the Daawa but to strong protests from ISCI in Nasiriyya). At least one Iraqi press report suggests this is an attempt by Maliki to weaken ISCI’s local support base in the forthcoming provincial elections. Others who are unhappy about Maliki’s scheme include members of the “Council of the shaykhs of the Dhi Qar tribes” which was pro-government back in 2006. Individuals participating in that council include tribal leaders of Bani Hujaym, which also is represented on the provincial council through a shaykh who is an ISCI member.

Maliki is supported in his effort by Muhammad al-Uraybi, minister of state, who has ties to the Al Bu Muhammad tribe of Maysan and also has a Wifaq connection.

Posted in UIA dynamics | Comments Off

A Constructive Element in Democratic Iraq Policy

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 6 October 2008 0:00

There are numerous problems when it comes to Democratic policy for Iraq, but a very useful article in the NYT has highlighted one feature of Barack Obama’s thinking on Iraq that both Democrats and Republicans should take into more consideration. According to the article, which was based on an interview with Obama, “Mr. Obama said he would end efforts to train the Iraqi military if Mr. Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government did not take adequate steps to integrate the largely Sunni members of the Awakening movements into Iraq’s security forces.” Conversely, John McCain had argued that “threats to cut off American training or deadlines for removing combat brigades, …would only prompt Iraq to become more dependent on Iran or turn to militias for security. ‘For a long time, people have said threaten them with this, threaten them with that,’ Mr. McCain said.”

While Obama may be wrong when it comes to the characterisation of the conflict in Iraq as essentially a sectarian one, he is certainly right in thinking in terms of conditionality with regard to US support. A large majority of Iraqis, Shiites and Sunnis, want national reconciliation and constitutional changes, but if the United States does not put pressure on Maliki, he will prefer the more leisurely option of arming the state to deal with dissidents.

Also, in relation to the federalism debate, Maliki’s office today issued a statement to the effect that “federal regions should not be stronger than the central government”, although he was magnanimous enough to concede that “federal regions and governorates will not be abolished or rendered ineffectual”…Surely this debate on state structure has changed over the past year or so.

Posted in Iraqi constitutional issues, US policy in Iraq: Leverage issues | Comments Off

Biden’s 700 Years and the Dangerous Road to a “Settlement” in Iraq

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 3 October 2008 20:10

During yesterday’s vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden repeated the basic thrust of Barack Obama’s comments on Iraq one week ago. According to Biden, “John McCain was saying the Sunnis and Shiites got along with each other without reading the history of the last 700 years”…  Full story here.

Posted in Iraq and soft partition, Sectarian master narrative | Comments Off

Five Years On: The Pentagon Still Struggling to Make Sense of Iraq

Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 1 October 2008 15:25

The US presidential candidates are not the only ones scrambling to put together a credible interpretation of the situation in Iraq these days. Today, Pentagon released its latest report to the US Congress, entitled “Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq”… Full story here.

Posted in Iranian influence in Iraq, Sectarian master narrative, US policy in Iraq: Leverage issues | Comments Off


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