Al-Hakim Faults Plan for Transition to Sovereignty
Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and a member of the Interim Governing Council, complained this week about the US plan for handing over sovereignty to an Iraqi government by June. He said the process whereby this plan was worked out was rushed, and was largely dictated to the Iraqis. The Associated Press quotes him as saying, “The Americans were insisting that they wanted to end this matter quickly. There was rushing and although there were reservations by other council members … regrettably (the Americans) did not stop or give more time for unanimous consent to be reached. The Iraqi people were pushed aside and the Iraqi people should play an important role. This contradicts the principles of democracy.”
He also hinted that when the new government is elected, the issue of the presence of US troops will have to be revisited.
In late August after his brother Muhammad Baqir was killed in a huge truck bomb in Najaf, Abdul Aziz had called for an immediate US military withdrawal from Iraq on the grounds that they had not been able to keep order. The subtext here is that Abdul Aziz heads his own paramilitary, the Badr Corps, which the US forbids from conducting armed patrols, and Abdul Aziz chafes under this restriction. Asked why the Shiites have been less troublesome for the US than the Sunni Arabs, Abdul Aziz said that it was because the Shiite religious leaders had instructed them to oppose the Americans only nonviolently.
Michael Georgy of Reuters argues that many in the Shiite South are despairing that the US will ever leave Iraq, and distrust the new plan for a transitional government this summer. Some are calling for jihad to get the Americans out. Others despair of Iraq having any future.
(Georgy no doubt encountered these attitudes among Shiites in the South, but several opinion polls suggest he was talking to minority who want the US out now and who are pessimistic about the future).
The NYT reported on Thursday that the Bush administration has made peace with the prospect that Iraq will be a Shiite-dominated country. They are convinced the Iraqi Shiites won’t be under the influence of Iran’s hardline ayatollahs, and will be relatively moderate. They still seem determined to put mega-crook Ahmad Chalabi in charge of Iraq if they can. What I can’t understand is why Chalabi isn’t being impeached for massive embezzlement or sidelined after all the lies he told the US about WMD etc.