Sunday, July 09, 2006

Iraq Timetable - 4/25/06

Orginally Posted on The Free Press Forum April 25,2006

It’s been so hard to find good news coming out of Iraq that even Gil Gutknecht’s Happy News weekly email listed in This Week’s Progress in Iraq: “DIWANIYAH - About 1,600 households in Diwaniyah are receiving reliable electricity thanks to 40 new transformer kiosks.” Although that may technically be progress, I thought the population of Diwaniyah was about 400, 000 … so I wonder who decides what households will have reliable power.

But, there was some good news out of Iraq.

The Representative Government (not a Democracy according to the leading Iraqi political party) finally produced the beginnings of an operational government selecting as Prime Minister Jawad al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani. The Iraqi government now has a timetable. PM al-Maliki has 30 days to set up a cabinet and four months to make any changes to the Constitution. Sunni Arab delegates are determined to overturn the provisions that allow provinces to form confederacies and to claim 100 percent of future oil and other natural resource finds, denying those resources to the federal government. Since Sunni Arabs have no such resources presently, they will be severely disadvantaged by such a system. The Kurds have already been setting up oil deals based on the oil reserves in their territory. PM al-Maliki’s political party objects to a paragraph that allows two-thirds of the population in three governorates to obstruct what the majority decides; it ultimately gives the minority the ability to impede the decision of the majority, which is against democracy.The next months will tell us if this government can function. Violence may escalate over that time period as Iraqi on Iraqi attacks may continue. PM al-Maliki announced that all local militias are to be disbanded in favor of the National Iraqi Military forces. This is a major challenge to PM al-Maliki. The first reaction from President Jalal Talabani was to insist that the Kurdish peshmerga is not a militia but rather a "regulated force." The Kurds say that federal forces will never set foot on Kurdistan soil, and that the peshmerga is the army of the Kurdistan regional confederacy. Aside from the Kurds militia, this could still work if Muqtada al-Sadr complies and disbands the Mahdi Army, then this government has a chance. A little background on Jawad al-Maliki. He is a member of the Dawa Party which was inspired by Iran’s Khomeini in the 80’s. He fled Iraq for Iran in 1980 when Saddam Hussein made it a capital crime to belong to the revolutionary Shiite Dawa Party, which was working for an Islamic state. He later left Tehran for Damascus, where he was in Dawa's political office. The Iraqi Dawa was engaged in anti-Western attacks in Lebanon during the 1980s, and helped form the Lebanese Hizbullah in 1984. It is not clear if al-Maliki had been involved in any of those activities. If the Bush Administration was unhappy with Ibrahim Jaafari, then there probably not overly excited about Jawad al-Maliki.

Based on this timetable, there are only three scenarios which US troops come home this summer.
#1. The Iraqi Government requests us to leave. This is not out of the question, as it was a platform of some of the Iraqi political parties as some believe that keeping the occupation forces means keeping problems.
#2. Rove access that it a political necessity to draw down troops prior November’s mid-term elections.
#3. The Iraqi Government is functioning so well that they do not need us.
Although all these are possibilities, I think Bush foretold his thoughts when he said that the next president would decide when the troops would come home.
So now that there is a timetable, the question is how does Bush feel about the exit strategy whereby the endgame could be decided where the US is sent home with Iraq and the region unstable? Will he cave to internal and external political pressure, declare Mission Complete, and retreat; or, will he tell the American people that not only is the War on Terrorism a long war, but that the stablization of Iraq is instrumental to a new world order and that the US forces will remain there.

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