Car Bomb in Green Zone
Parliamentarians Trade Accusations
The intrepid Edward Wong of the New York Times reports that a car bomb targetting the Iraqi speaker of parliament, Mahmud Mashhadani [Sunni], was detonated inside the Green Zone on Tuesday. The Green Zone is a 4 square mile area of downtown Baghdad behind concrete walls, with a heavy US military guard. It houses the main political institutions of the new Iraq, and many parliamentarians live there. Likewise the US embassy and other Coalition institutions are based there. This is the most serious incident inside the Green Zone for some time.
The United Nations counts 3700 Iraqi civilian deaths in October.
MP Jalal al-Din Saghir of the [Shiite] Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq got into a shouting match on the floor of parliament with Adnan Dulaimi, a Sunni fundamentalist. Saghir condemned Sunni attacks on Shiites in two districts of Baghdad and said that they were encouraging Shiites to turn to militias. Dulaimi angrily retorted that Sunni Arabs were the ones being targeted by Shiite militias, and were being treated like “Jews and Iranians” in Iraq.
The Iraqi government is paralyzed, argues Borzou Daragahi of the LA Times, by the system of government by consensus imposed by the United States. Thus, the US forced a “national unity government” on the country last spring, which involved giving cabinet ministries to the parties that joined the government. But then if they are incompetent or corrupt or dangerous, the ministers cannot be fired because that would cause his or her party to withdraw from the government.
The real problem is that politics has been arranged on a sectarian basis. If al-Maliki, the elected prime minister, attempted to rule with a heavy hand, it would be rejected by the Kurds, Turkmen and Sunni Arabs, because his Shiite coalition does not represent them. There is no party that is truly a national party.
Tom Hayden tries to piece together what he sees as a secret set of US negotiations with Sunni Arab guerrilla groups that might position Washington for a withdrawal from Iraq. It is a valuable piece. But it does not reckon with the weight of the Shiites and the Kurds, who would not put up with talking to violent Baathists.
The sick, the old, women and children are suffering most from the breakdown in Iraqi society. They are disproportionately likely to be forced out of their homes, and, once displaced, to be left destitute and even hungry.
I am glad to report that Senator Barack Obama has adopted a position on a phased withdrawal from Iraq that is very similar to the one that I hold. He has it absolutely right. Pressure the government and pressure the factions to compromise by getting our guys out of the line of fire among them.