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Iraq: Game Over

The vistory of the Shiite religious bloc means the big winner in the Iraqi elections is Iran. Next stop: civil war.
for Robert Dreyfuss' article, click on
 http://www.tompaine.com/articles/20051222/iraq_game_over.php

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yes but 26.Dec.2005 20:52

tuckett

Mukhtar says, 'As for Al Qaeda, or the bin Laden organization, I would like to remind you that this organization did not exist in Iraq before the invasion of Iraq by the United States.' = =

as an ideology, al-qaeda is ancient.

lets hope for a 2006 filled with justice.


Iraq: Game Over 27.Dec.2005 03:42

Robert Dreyfuss (reposted)

Robert Dreyfuss is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005). Dreyfuss is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va., who specializes in politics and national security issues. He is a contributing editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone.He can be reached at his website: www.robertdreyfuss.com.

The last hope for peace in Iraq was stomped to death this week. The victory of the Shiite religious coalition in the December 15 election hands power for the next four years to a fanatical band of fundamentalist Shiite parties backed by Iran, above all to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Quietly backed by His Malevolence, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, sustained by a 20,000-strong paramilitary force called the Badr Brigade, and with both overt and covert support from Iran's intelligence service and its Revolutionary Guard corps, SCIRI will create a theocratic bastion state in its southern Iraqi fiefdom and use its power in Baghdad to rule what's left of the Iraqi state by force.

The consequences of SCIRI's victory are manifold. But there is no silver lining, no chance for peace talks among Iraq's factions, no chance for international mediation. There is no centrist force that can bridge the factional or sectarian divides. Next stop: civil war.

There isn't any point in looking for silver linings in the catastrophic Iraqi vote. The likely next prime minister, Adel Abdel Mahdi, is a smooth-talking SCIRI thug. His boss, Abdel Aziz Hakim of SCIRI, is the former commander of the Badr Brigade and a militant cleric who has issued bloodthirsty calls for a no-holds-barred military solution to the insurgency. The scores of secret torture prisons by the SCIRI-led Iraqi ministry of the interior will proliferate, and SCIRI-led death squads will start going down their lists of targets. The divisive, sectarian constitution that was rammed down Iraq's throat in October by the Shiite religious bloc will be preserved intact under the new, "permanent government" of Iraq led by SCIRI.

The Kurds, ensconced in northern Iraq, will retreat further into their enclave, content to proceed step-by-step toward what they hope will be a breakaway rump state. Earlier this year, after the January 31 transitional elections, the Kurds made their deal with the Shiite devil, winning in exchange two vital (for them) points: that Iraq will have a virtually nonexistent central government will power reserved for the provincial regions, and that revenues from future Iraqi oil fields will go to those regions, not to the state. All the Kurds want now is to take over Kirkuk, which they will do with force, violence, and ethnic cleansing aimed at Arab residents of the Kirkuk area.

The Sunnis are already charging vote fraud, threatening to boycott or withdraw from the new assembly, and openly predicting that Iraq will now slide into civil war. There is virtually no combination of political alliances now that can guarantee Sunnis a fair share of power in the new Iraq. Every Sunni leader, from the most militant Baath Party activist to the most conservative Sunni clergyman, knows that a regime led by Hakim's SCIRI bloc will mean war. As a result, proponents of cooperating with the new government will become fence-sitters, and fence-sitters will join the resistance. The insurgency will continue, and possibly strengthen.

The more perceptive among U.S. intelligence officials and Iraq experts know how to read the situation, and they mostly believe it is hopeless. "I hate to say, 'Game over,'" says Wayne White, who led the State Department's intelligence effort on Iraq until last spring. "But we've lost it." There is no mechanism for the Sunnis now to restore a modicum of balance in Iraq, and the Shiite religious parties have no incentive to make significant concessions either to the Sunnis or to the resistance, White says.

Most worrying is the fact that centrist elements in Iraq—ranging from the CIA's favorite candidate, Iyad Allawi, to the Pentagon's chosen vehicle, Ahmed Chalabi—got blown away. Therefore, as I had hoped earlier (and wrote, in this space, two weeks ago, in a piece called "Iraq's Last Small Hope," and again, last week, in "Iraq's Tipping Point"), any chance that someone like Allawi could emerge as a power broker who could bridge the divide between religious Shiites and the Sunni-led resistance is gone. The planned-for Arab League peace conference, scheduled for late February or early March, likely won't happen. Violence will intensify.

For Bush, the results present an almost excruciatingly difficult problem. The White House will begin to look ridiculous as it touts Iraq's scandal-plagued, fraud-ridden election as the birth of democracy, especially as a brutal Shiite theocracy begins to take shape. The continuing resistance will make it impossible for the president to cite progress in the war. When President Bush starts to order a drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq, as he must, he will not have the convenience of a peaceful, stable Iraq to point to. And the rise of Iran's power in Iraq presents another Rubik's Cube conundrum for the president. Some eager neocons, of course, will start to argue that the United States has no choice but to take the failed war in Iraq into Iran, to batter those who torment the U.S. occupation in Iraq. For others in the Bush administration, who at least live on planet earth, the problem of Iranian power in Iraq vastly complicates their ability to put a positive spin on the Bush administration's Iraq project.

The election disaster means that it is all the more important now for the United States to open direct, public talks with the Iraqi resistance, even if it means defying the Shiite religious-led regime. It is the United States whose 160,000 troops prop up the Shiites in power. Washington can no longer afford to give SCIRI and its junior partner, Al Dawa, veto power over its ability to negotiate a ceasefire with the opposition in order to pull out U.S. forces.

But it also means that every day that the U.S. forces remain in Iraq, the United States creates another day for the Shiite religious forces to strengthen their hand, to build their militia, and to make plans for cleansing Sunnis from majority Shiite areas. (It is, of course, with the help of the U.S. army that the Shiite militias are being incorporated into the new Iraqi army, unit by unit.) By getting out of Iraq as soon as possible, Jack Murtha-style, the United States can at the very least ensure that the Shiites do not grow all-powerful, and it might prevent a further radicalization of the Sunni-led resistance. When there are no good options, then prudence suggests that it's time to choose the least bad one.

white mans burden 27.Dec.2005 08:53

?

"the Kurds made their deal with the Shiite devil,"

these devils represent 60% of the iraq population. Dreyfuss is really concerned about their close relationship with iran. many western journalists often make the mistake in assuming that our (u.s.) friends/enemies are or should be your (iraq) friends/enemies; he looks at the whole Iraq issue from how it affects America and not from how its affects Iraq.

"Most worrying is the fact that centrist elements in Iraq—ranging from the CIA's favorite candidate, Iyad Allawi, to the Pentagon's chosen vehicle, Ahmed Chalabi—got blown away."

i think its great these two u.s. puppets "got blown away" .

dreyfuss also fails to acknowledge that the real president of iraq is george w. bush.

this article reminds me of why i stopped reading the nation, amerian prospect, mother jones, & rolling stone where dreyfuss is a frequent contributor.

^^ 27.Dec.2005 10:42

alas

great comment.

Iraq is disintegrating 27.Dec.2005 10:48

marc mbatko@lycos.com

The analysis of Patrick Cockburn from The Independent UK, 12/21/2005 seems to confirm Robert Dreyfuss:

Iraq's Election Result: A Divided Nation
By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent UK

Wednesday 21 December 2005

Iraq is disintegrating. The first results from the parliamentary election last week show the country is dividing between Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions.

Religious fundamentalists now have the upper hand. The secular and nationalist candidate backed by the US and Britain was humiliatingly defeated.

The Shia religious coalition has won a total victory in Baghdad and the south of Iraq. The Sunni Arab parties who openly or covertly support armed resistance to the US are likely to win large majorities in Sunni provinces. The Kurds have already achieved quasi-independence and their voting reflected that.

The election marks the final shipwreck of American and British hopes of establishing a pro-Western secular democracy in a united Iraq.

Islamic fundamentalist movements are ever more powerful in both the Sunni and Shia communities. Ghassan Attiyah, an Iraqi commentator, said: "In two and a half years Bush has succeeded in creating two new Talibans in Iraq."

The success of the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of Shia religious parties, has been far greater than expected according to preliminary results. It won 58 per cent of the vote in Baghdad, while Iyad Allawi, the former prime minister strongly supported by Tony Blair, got only 14 per cent of the vote. In Basra, Iraq's second city, 77 per cent of voters supported the Alliance and only 11 per cent Mr. Allawi.

The election was portrayed by President George Bush as a sign of success for US policies in Iraq but, in fact, means the triumph of America's enemies inside and outside the country.

Iran will be pleased that the Shia religious parties which it has supported, have become the strongest political force.

Ironically, Mr. Bush is increasingly dependent within Iraq on the co-operation and restraint of the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly called for the eradication of Israel. It is the allies of the Iranian theocracy who are growing in influence by the day and have triumphed in the election. The US will fear that development greatly as it constantly reminds the world of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Iran may be happier with a weakened Iraq in which it is a predominant influence rather than see the country entirely break up.

Another victor in the election is the fiery nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia fought fierce battles with US troops last year. The US military said at the time it intended "to kill or capture him".

Mr. Bush cited the recapture of the holy city of Najaf from the Mehdi Army in August 2004 as an important success for the US Army. Mr. Sadr will now be one of the most influential leaders within the coalition.

All the parties which did well in the election have strength only within their own community. The Shia coalition succeeded because the Shia make up 60 per cent of Iraqis but won almost no votes among the Kurds or Sunni, each of whom is about 20 per cent of the population. The Sunni and the Kurdish parties won no support outside their own communities.

The US ambassador in Baghdad, Zilmay Khalilzad, sounded almost despairing yesterday as he reviewed the results of the election. "It looks as if people have preferred to vote for their ethnic or sectarian identities," he said. "But for Iraq to succeed there has to be cross-ethnic and cross-sectarian co-operation."

The election also means a decisive switch from a secular Iraq to a country in which, outside Kurdistan, religious law will be paramount. Mr. Allawi, who ran a well-financed campaign, was the main secular hope but that did not translate into votes. The other main non-religious candidate, Ahmed Chalabi, won less than 1 per cent of the vote in Baghdad and will be lucky to win a single seat in the new 275-member Council of Representatives.

"People underestimate how religious Iraq has become," said one Iraqi observer. "Iran is really a secular society with a religious leadership, but Iraq will be a religious society with a religious leadership." Already most girls leaving schools in Baghdad wear headscarves. Women's rights in cases of divorce and inheritance are being eroded.

Sunni Arab leaders were aghast at the electoral triumph of the Shia, claiming fraud. Adnan al-Dulaimi, the head of the Sunni Arab alliance, the Iraqi Accordance Front, said that if the electoral commission did not respond to their complaints they would "demand the elections be held again in Baghdad".

Mr. Allawi's Iraqi National List also protested. Ibrahim al-Janabi, a party official, said: "The elections commission is not independent. It is influenced by political parties and by the government." But while there was probably some fraud and intimidation, the results of the election mirror the way in which the Shia majority in Iraq is systematically taking over the levers of power. Shia already control the ministry of the interior with 110,000 police and paramilitary units and most of the troops in the 80,000-strong army being trained by the US are Shia.

Mr. Khalilzad said yesterday: "You can't have someone who is regarded as sectarian, for example, as Minister of the Interior." This is a not so-veiled criticism of the present minister, Bayan Jabr, a leading member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the largest Shia party. He is accused of running death squads and torture centers whose victims are Sunni Arabs.

It is unlikely that the Shia religious parties and militias will tolerate any rollback in their power. "They feel their day has come," said Mr. Attiyah.

For six months the Shia have ruled Iraq in alliance with the Kurds. Kurdish leaders are not happy with the way this government has worked. The Kurds, supported by the US, will now try to dilute Shia control of government by bringing in Sunni ministers and Mr. Allawi. But one Kurdish leader said: "We have a strategic alliance with the Shia religious parties we would be unwise to break."

The elections are also unlikely to see a diminution in armed resistance to the US by the Sunni community. Insurgent groups have made clear that they see winning seats in parliament as the opening of another front.

The break-up of Iraq has been brought closer by the election. The great majority of people who went to the polls voted as Shia, Sunni or Kurds - and not as Iraqis. The forces pulling Iraq apart are stronger than those holding it together. The election, billed by Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair as the birth of a new Iraqi state may in fact prove to be its funeral.

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