March 5, 2007

Maliki No Longer Malingering

Hatched by Dafydd

This AP article is extremely encouraging -- not just because of the good news it contains but because of the trend it represents: more and more elite-media news stories are admitting that the security operation is going very, very well so far... and we haven't even inserted the last three or four brigades yet (I'm not sure whether two or only one have gone in to date).

Though there is an amusing and somewhat telling mistake that somehow slithered through the six layers of editorial oversight: while discussing our attempts to move Maliki to split with Sadr, and how reluctant he has been until now, one of the paragraphs reads thus:

But pressure for change has mounted since President Bush ordered 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq last January despite widespread opposition in Congress and among the U.S. public - weary of the nearly five-year-long war.

That would be the "five years" from March 20th, 2003 until March 3rd, 2007, I suppose. Perhaps AP uses some really, really bad lunar calendar...

But on the whole, the article is much fairer and more accurate than we've grown accustomed to seeing over the last four years. (Or five years, if you prefer.)

The good news bits:

  • The prime minister is going to "shake up" his cabinet... which evidently means giving the boot to the six Sadrites in his cabinet and shuffling some other offices around;
  • Maliki also says he will start arresting "top officials" and members of parliament for aiding and abetting the Shiite death squads.

That last part is going to be especially welcome to the Sunni in Iraq, whose cooperation we need in order to bring Iraqis together as a nation, instead of allowing them to disintegrate into discrete groups separated by sect -- or even by tribe.

The government must convince Sunni Iraqis that it's not the Shiite Iraqi government, but a government for all Iraqis. Everyone knows that high-ranking Shia have been funneling money and weapons to the death squads, which use those resources to butcher Sunnis (who may or may not have any connection to al-Qaeda); thus, the only way to convince the Sunni that Prime Minister Maliki is finally serious is to start busting top Shia and chucking them into la calabooza:

Last month, U.S. and Iraqi troops arrested Deputy Health Minister Hakim al-Zamili, an al-Sadr ally, for allegedly diverting millions of dollars in government funds to the Mahdi Army and allowing death squads to use ambulances and government hospitals to carry out kidnappings and killings.

During the interview, al-Maliki said other top officials would face prosecution for ties to insurgents, sectarian militias and death squads - including members of parliament.

"There has been coordination between us and the Multinational Forces ... starting at the beginning of this year ... to determine who should arrested and the reasons behind arresting them," he said.

Al-Maliki did not elaborate on the U.S.-Iraqi coordination but said Iraqi judicial authorities were reviewing case files to decide which to refer to an Iraqi investigative judge, who must decide whether there is enough evidence to order a trial.

This problem is quite serious, and Iraqi authorities estimate as many as 100 government officials could end up in the dock.

One example is MP Jamal Jaafar Mohammed:

One Shiite parliament member, Jamal Jaafar Mohammed, is believed to have fled to Iran after U.S. authorities learned that he was convicted by a Kuwaiti court in absentia and sentenced to death in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait.

Mohammed fled Kuwait for Iran before he could be arrested and returned after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. U.S. officials have alleged he was a conduit for Iranian weapons and supplies smuggled to Shiite militias.

All in all, this news is excellent... and coming on the heels of the drop in homicides (even including the big blast today that killed 20-30 innocent civilians at a market), it definitely shows Iraq's significant movement towards becoming a stable democracy, able to handle its own defense with little help from us.

But of course, the Democrats in Congress are still determined to "stop the surge." More and more, however, it becomes clear they're not worried we might fail...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 5, 2007, at the time of 5:47 AM

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The following hissed in response by: charlotte

Encouraging news, but it couldn't be easy for (inconstant) Maliki, who has to be fearful for his life and for those of his family. If he is sincerely working toward the same end as we, then this augers well for his country and our efforts. And good for our team for exerting the right kinds of pressure and inducement.

The Dems, in opposing the "reinforcements" scheduled for Iraq, seem more worried about any future success over there and a "surge" in popularity for Bush and Repubs right here. Sigh.

The above hissed in response by: charlotte [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 5, 2007 6:44 AM

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