Bush Blackmailing al-Maliki with $50 Bn. in US Fed

The intrepid Patrick Cockburn reveals that the White House is more or less extorting the Iraqi government into signing a security pact with George W. Bush. At stake is $50 bn. of Iraqi money held in the US Federal Reserve, at least $20 bn. of which could be lost to Iraq if the government of Nuri al-Maliki declines to sign on the dotted line. Cockburn also reveals that the Iraqis wanted to diversify their receipts from oil sales away from dollar holdings into euros, and that the Americans vetoed the move. Bush wants 50 bases in Iraq and the prerogative of the US military to act unilaterally and with impunity inside the country.

Although the Bush administration is playing hardball to get this wideranging set of commitments from Iraq before July 31, and although Iraqis are eager to escape Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which limits their government’s sovereignty, the negotiations may collapse in the face of widespread opposition to the baldly neocolonial terms sought by Washington. Even remaining under the UN Security Council, under Chapter 7, may be preferable to Baghdad. There were large demonstrations against the security agreement, barely covered by the US press, last Friday, and Iraqi religious and political leaders are coalescing against it. Postcolonial states of the Arab world, which only attained real independence from Britain and France with great difficulty and in living memory, are touchy about being seen as kowtowing to imperial demands. The Shah’s government was overthrown in 1979 by huge crowds and a wide cross section of the public precisely on these grounds.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has issued a 170-page report accusing Bush and Cheney of exaggerating the intelligence on the threat posed by Iraq, in the build-up to the Iraq War. D’oh.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Chief of Staff has warned that the ‘status quo’ in Iraq will destabilize the Middle East if it goes on. That is, he is attacking the current constitution and political arrangements, whereby Kurdistan is semi-independent of Baghdad.

Turkey and Iran are coordinating their attacks on Kurdish guerrillas, based in American-held Iraq, that have been conducting strikes against the two countries.

Turkey itself has entered a constitutional crisis over, of all things, whether women in universities may veil on campus.