Maliki blowing it in Iraq

The Belmont Club:

Maliki rejects American pressure to shut down Shi'ite militias: The Iraqi PM publicly denounced American calls for a timetable to shutdown militias and decried US operations against death squads, including operations against Sadr City. "We expected it," US officials said. (AP/Breitbart)

Maliki has nailed his colors to the mast on this issue at least. Legally Iraq is a sovereign country, which the US must treat it as any other country from the perspective of US national interest. Theoretically Maliki is under no obligation to obey Washington, which is correspondingly under no compulsion to support Maliki. While America would prefer to see a stable government in Iraq that is ultimately a task that cannot be delegated to Americans indefinitely. So expect some hardball to be played as this is the way of relations between nations. That said, Maliki's statements imply he values American support less necessary than the goodwill of his Shi'ite base. Or that he perceives Shi'ite support as so important that he's willing to risk American goodwill. How solid that Shi'ite base will prove is open to question. The Badr Brigades and Madhi Army have continually clashed as they strive to control the Shi’ite areas and its valuable oil resource.

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The Opinion Journal has a letter from a sergeant in a US Army intelligence unit which argues that despite the fact that Iraq is legally a "sovereign nation", in reality it is now a bag of murderously opposed factions. If this analysis is correct, Maliki isn't really the prime minister of a country so much as the spokesman for a coalition.

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Reasserting US sovereignty over Iraq and attempting to build a unitary nation will prove very difficult and probably impossible to effect....

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It's probably fair to say that America has swapped on set of threats for another. There is no more Iraqi threat to Saudi or Gulf oil fields; no more need to worry about an Iraqi nuclear program; no more need to station the Navy in the Gulf. But the load has been transferred to the ground forces. And in place of the threat represented by Saddam, there are a new set of threats that may lurk in the dogfight that is emerging among the different ethnic groups.

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There is much more between the ...'s.

It is not just Maliki who is blowing it in Iraq. The Sunni and Shia factions are wasting a grand opportunity in much the same way that Palestinians have been wasting opportunities for years. To get a idea of just how much opportunity they are blowing, you have only to look at what the Kurds are accomplishing in the north. The Sunnis and Shia could have the same thing if they would get over their tribal killing spree and get to work on building a democratic society.

See also this post on the consequences of losing in Iraq and this one what is needed to rein in Maliki and Sadr.

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