Al-Maliki’s Goals on his American Visit

What did Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki want from his visit to New York City and Washington, DC?

Al-Zaman [The Times of Baghdad] makes some suggestions in this regard.

First, he wants the United Nations Security Council to remove Iraq altogether from Chapter 7 status under the UN Charter. After the Gulf War, the UNSC put Iraq into a kind of receivership, with sanctions, demands for disarmament with regard to unconventional weapons, and restrictions, in which the UNSC had a say on Iraqi policies. Also, 5% of Iraq’s oil income went to pay reparations for the destruction it caused during the war. One of the reasons Iraq did bilateral status of forces agreements with the US and with the UK was that they wanted to avoid having any more UNSC resolutions authorizing foreign troops in Iraq. Iraqi government spokesman Ali Dabbagh, according to Reuters, said that Chapter 7 status “handcuffed Iraq, restricted its sovereignty and burdened it with the crimes of the former regime.” On a visit to the UN HQ, al-Maliki said that “Iraq no longer poses a threat to the international community,” and so the sanctions “are no longer necessary.” (For a formerly colonized country, being under Chapter 7 is way too much like being recolonized, and ending that status is paramount for an Iraqi nationalist like al-Maliki).

In Washington, al-Zaman says, al-Maliki also wants

1. help in developing the Iraqi economy, and

2. he wants a normalization of relations with the US.

Other potential goals are controversial. Reuters reports, ‘”Maliki will ask the U.S. to increase pressure on the Kurdish government. Finding a solution for this [Kirkuk] issue is vital and cannot be postponed any longer,” said Saad al-Hadithi, a political analyst at Baghdad University. ‘

But the pan-Arab London daily, al-Hayat reports in Arabic that al-Maliki is unlikely to want the US involved in the negotiations with the Kurds over Kirkuk.

The Kurdistan leadership wants to hold a referendum in Kirkuk province over whether it should join the Kurdistan federation within Iraq. But since Arabs and Turkmen are largely opposed to Kirkuk joining Kurdistan, the United Nations is urging that no referendum be held, fearing it could spark the outbreak of a civil war.

For his part, Obama wants al-Maliki to make more progress on national reconciliation with Sunni Arabs and Kurds, so that Iraq settles down and the US can put its money and efforts into Afghanistan. Obama reaffirmed his determination to withdraw US troops.

Al-Maliki seems to have a blind spot in this regard, apparently feeling that the Sunnis and the Kurds can be faced down by his new military without offering any concessions.

Meanwhile, the State Department concludes that Bush’s monster embassy in Baghdad is way too big for the reduced American mission in Iraq and will need to be pared down. Duh.

And, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, protested sharply the killing of 6 Iranian pilgrims and the wounding of over 30 at Khaniqin on Wednesday, saying Iraq needed to supply the Iranians in Iraq with more security.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi implied that the US was somehow to blame for the killing of the pilgrims.

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