Maliki Government Resists Deal with Baathists

The NYT reports that behind the scenes the US has been pressuring Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to find a way to reconcile with former Baathist elements, but that he has refused.

Actually the Arab press has been reporting for some time on this issue. From the point of view of an Iraqi government dominated by fundamentalist Shiites and by Kurds, the Baath Party had been putting them in mass graves for the previous three decades and they refuse to deal with it. In fact, they consider it positively unconstitutional to have any dealings with the Baath Party. The NYT ascribes the problem mainly to al-Maliki and ironically enough quotes Ahmad Chalabi as more reasonable. Chalabi spear-headed the effort to “debaathify” Iraq and urged that the party be treated as Nazi, and served on the Debaathification Commission alongside al-Maliki.

All the Sunni-majority provinces roundly rejected the constitution to which the Iraqi government is now appealing, and you can’t have a national government under those conditions.

This is why Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s characterization of the Sunni Arab guerrilla’s actions as the last gasp of rejectionists is wishful thinking (not to mention un-artful in evoking Dick Cheney so powerfully).

Many Sunni Arabs in Iraq and in the Arab world are simply not reconciled to Iraq being ruled by pro-Iran Shiite fundamentalist parties in alliance with Kurdish autonomists. What distinguishes the guerrillas is not their greater rejectionism but their continued hope that direct action can change the status quo, which many Sunni Arabs have given up on.

For more see John Aloysius Farrell.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, blamed the US directly for the attacks in Iraq this week. Since one of the attacks was on the shrine of Imam Musa al-Kazim, an important holy figure for Shiite Muslims, Khamenei was implying that the US military is deliberately targeting shrines sacred to the religion. These are inflammatory charges, and I interpret them as a sign that Khamenei is running scared from Obama’s popularity with the Iranian public, and attempting to blunt pressures on him from reformists to reciprocate Washington’s new interest in dialogue.

Aljazeera English reports on the plight of Iraqi refugees who have fled Baghdad and still refuse to return because they are unconvinced that the security situation in the capital has improved all that much. Many are traumatized from watching loved ones or friends killed.

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