Fallujah and Allawi’s Fate
Tom Lasseter of Knight Ridder reviews the pros and cons of the coming US attack on Fallujah for caretaker Prime Minister Allawi. If the attack is swift and successful, Allawi will be strengthened. If it is prolonged, the protests within Iraq and in the Arab world could mount and cause a diplomatic disaster.
Lasseter does not say so, but the razing of Fallujah is precisely the sort of action that may provoke an al-Qaeda response and will in any case aid in al-Qaeda’s ability to recruit angry young Muslims.
One other question I would ask is whether President Ghazi al-Yawir will resign and run for parliament as Allawi’s rival.
Also, one reason given for the Fallujah campaign is to allow elections to proceed. But the campaign itself may reinforce Sunni clerics’ calls for a boycott.
If the Sadr movement gives up the idea of a boycott and participates, as some signs indicate it will, then the Shiite turnout should be high. A Sunni Arab boycott would then be disastrous for the legitimacy of the outcome.
Speaking of elections, voter registration drives have begun, based on the old United Nations food rations. Doing it this way was the suggestion of Grand Ayatollah Sistani, but he had wanted elections last May. Since the Americans are having to use his plan anyway, it is unclear what they gained by delaying elections so long.