What Went Wrong in Washington and the Green Zone
Jeffrey Gettleman of the New York Times has two important articles today. Since he was almost killed getting them, I hope someone is paying attention. One forthrightly acknowledges the instigating role of the Israeli assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin on the blow-up in Iraq. The other talks about the ugly mood brewing, of hatred for Americans and cross-sectarian sympathy born of Iraqi nationalism.
It should not be taken for granted that Iraqis can be divided and ruled. Remember that they united to fight off Iran for 8 years in the 1980s, and that relatively few Iraqi Shiites defected to Khomeini. It is also worrisome that the trained battalion of the new Iraqi army that was ordered to go fight in Fallujah refused to go, according to Thomas Ricks of the Washington Post. The battalion came under fire from the Mahdi Army on its way out of Baghdad and just went back to barracks. They said they hadn’t signed up to fight Iraqis. This phenomenon had been seen many times before. The police in Fallujah refused to fight insurgents not so long ago when they had a firefight with US troops. Same reason. This is further evidence of the collapse of American authority in Iraq, such as it was.
Robin Wright of the Washington Post goes Bernard Lewis one better with an insightful piece on What Went Wrong with the American enterprise in Iraq. The Post is on a roll today, with an excellent overview of how things spun out of control in recent weeks by Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Anthony Shadid . (I had to scroll down to see it at the MSNBC site in IE for some reason). The article argues for arrogance and ignorance as motives in coming after Muqtada and his people right before Arba’in. But I still wonder about a darker side. The CPA told them that they cracked down on Muqtada because his militias threatened to make democracy impossible. I wonder if what they really meant to say was that his militias threatened to make it impossible for the Pentagon to install Ahmad Chalabi as prime minister.
I bring this up because Iyad Allawi has now resigned from Security Commission of the Interim Governing Council (not from the Council itself, so far). His man at the Ministry of the Interior, Nuri Badran, was forced out of office by Bremer a few days ago. Allawi’s resignation from the Security Commission is a protest against his man being fired and against US policies in Iraq. He complained in the newspaper of his Iraqi National Accord, “The commission does not have prerogatives to find effective solutions to the deterioration of the security situation” in the country.” Wire services said, ‘ The paper said Allawi had submitted a letter to the current Governing Council president, Massud Barzani, in which he expressed “reservations on the measures adopted by the top civil administrator Paul Bremer and his armed troops.” ‘
Now, Allawi was the one who organized the ex-Baath officers for the CIA and the State Department, and who tried to foment military coups against Saddam, but failed. The Company and State turned to Allawi especially from about 1996 onward, when they dropped Ahmad Chalabi, who could not account for the millions of dollars they had given him. The Pentagon picked up Chalabi, however, and backed him especially hard once Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith got into office early in 2001. Unlike Allawi, Chalabi wanted deep debaathification, the destruction of the Baath army, and a disqualification of the ex-officers. The two have been rivals for a decade.
Allawi’s place on the Security Commission was taken by Muwaffaq al-Rubaie, a Shiite and former member of the Basra branch of the radical al-Da`wa party, who is now close to Grand Ayatollah Sistani. Ahmad Chalabi has increasingly associated himself with Rubaie and other pro-Sistani Shiites on the IGC.
So, my question is, was Badran gotten rid of and Allawi sidelined because the Pentagon is now at the endgame, intending to shoehorn Chalabi into power in Iraq? Are the rivals to Chalabi, from Muqtada to Allawi, being targetted one after another by Rumsfeld’s representatives in Baghdad? We by now know how completely hollow the talk of Rumsfeld and crew about “democratization” is. How many people have been elected to office on a one-person, one-vote basis in Afghanistan, Iraq, or any place else as a result of Rumsfeld’s policies? Everyone is appointed or jiggered into office by a manipulated Loya Jirga. Chalabi seems set to be jiggered into office. And, his militia appears not to be considered a threat to democracy, since the Pentagon even flew it into Iraq.