Saturday, July 07, 2007

Will al-Maliki be brought down by a no confidence vote?

So, you've got Moqtada al-Sadr vowing to block the draft Iraq oil law, with al-Maliki trying to fight back by claiming Baathists have infiltrated al-Sadr's movement with "talks in recent weeks about forming a Shiite-Kurdish coalition that would sideline al-Sadr's movement" but now CBS is reporting that al-Maliki may be facing an upcoming no-confidence vote led by Sunni politicians.

CBS News has learned that on July 15, they plan to ask for a no-confidence vote in the Iraqi parliament as the first step to bringing down the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Even those closest to the Iraqi prime minister, from his own party, admit the political situation is desperate.

"I feel there is no strategy, so the people become hopeless," said Faliy al Fayadh, an MP from the Dawa Party. "You can live without petrol, without electricity, but you can't live without hope."

Iraq's prime minister is facing his most serious challenge yet. The no-confidence vote will be requested by the largest block of Sunni politicians, who are part of a broad political alliance called the Iraq Project. What they want is a new government run by ministers who are appointed for their expertise, not their party loyalty.

The Iraq Project is known to the highest levels of the U.S. government. CBS News has learned it was discussed in detail on Vice President Dick Cheney's most recent visit to Baghdad, when he met with the Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi.
Leaders of the Iraq Project claim they have the necessary votes to force al-Maliki to resign, but that has yet to be tested in parliament. For now, the U.S. is still standing by the Iraqi leader – publicly at least.

It's no surprise that the Bush administration would try to throw al-Maliki off the bus since he cannot guarantee passage of the oil law - the raison d'etre for this war. The question remains then: who will Bushco Cheney install as a replacement for al-Maliki? And how will Iraq's Shiites react if a Sunni leader is chosen? And how will that help with getting the oil law passed since Azzaman reports, "Sunni Scholars have issued a decree branding anyone accepting the law a traitor and Sunni members of parliament, who have already boycotted its sessions, have vowed to resist the law." Via Reuters we learn that a Sunni lawmaker resigned his post on the energy panel on Saturday in opposition to the draft oil law.

Since Bushco has been planning al-Maliki's ouster for months, as LA Times reporter Paul Richter reported in May, this farce about bringing democracy to Iraq can obviously be put to rest now.

WASHINGTON — As Iraq's government compiles a record of failure, the Bush administration is under growing pressure to intervene to rearrange Baghdad's dysfunctional political order, or even install a new leadership.

Publicly, administration officials say they remain committed to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, even though after a year in office, his elected government has failed to complete any important steps toward political reconciliation — the legislative "benchmarks" sought by U.S. officials.

But privately, some U.S. officials acknowledge that the congressional clamor to find another approach will increase sharply in coming months if no progress is made toward tamping down sectarian violence, bringing more minority Sunnis into the government and fairly dividing up the nation's oil resources.

Intervention "is the eternal temptation for the Americans," said one U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity when discussing internal deliberations. "As we get closer and closer to the fall, and the benchmarks are not met … there will be a growing appeal to the idea that if we can replace the top guy, we can get back on track."

Although U.S. officials vow not to meddle in the government they helped to create, they have brought their influence to bear again and again, including in Maliki's selection as prime minister in early 2006. In January of this year, top U.S. officials considered, and narrowly rejected, a proposal to try to reorganize the fractious political order around a new moderate coalition.
Americans could spur change through a multitude of diplomatic channels and could use their influence with other Iraqi groups and leaders to shake up the political order in Baghdad. For instance, Washington could encourage a parliamentary no-confidence vote on Maliki, then quietly work a new coalition to choose a leader to its liking, analysts said.
The Bush administration could quietly apply its influence in choosing a new prime minister if Maliki's government fell as the result of a no-confidence vote. Under parliamentary rules, only 50 lawmakers are needed to call such a vote. The government falls if it does not win support from half of the 275 members of the body.

All of those purple fingers were just a mirage.

And, in the meantime, "senior administration officials" (WH leakers throwing out trial balloons to gauge the public's reaction) have told the WaPo that Bushco is lowering expectations for what can actually be accomplished in Iraq this year - contradicting its loudmouth blabbering about imposed benchmarks expected of Iraq's government as well as the US military and its whack-a-mole surge - in an attempt to stop more Republican rats from abandoning ship. "Shaving yardsticks", it's called. I call it "refusing to admit defeat".

The blame game goes on and on:

According to several senior officials who agreed to discuss the situation in Iraq only on the condition of anonymity, the political goals that seemed achievable earlier this year remain hostage to the security situation. If the extreme violence were to decline, Iraq's political paralysis might eventually subside. "If they are arguing, accusing, gridlocking," one official said, "none of that would mean the country is falling apart if it was against the backdrop of a stabilizing security situation."

From a military perspective, however, the political stalemate is hampering security. "The security progress we're making is real," said a senior military intelligence official in Baghdad. "But it's only in part of the country, and there's not enough political progress to get us over the line in September."

Here's the new meme now:

In their September report, sources said, Petraeus and Crocker intend to emphasize how security and politics are intertwined, and how progress in either will be incremental. In that context, the administration will offer new measures of progress to justify continuing the war effort.

"There are things going on that we never could have foreseen," said one official, who argued that the original benchmarks set by Bush six months ago -- and endorsed by the Maliki government -- are not only unachievable in the short term but also irrelevant to changing the conditions in Iraq.

Bang your head against the wall. I'll wait.

Top administration officials are aware that the strategy's stated goal -- using U.S. forces to create breathing space for Iraqi political reconciliation -- will not be met by September, said one person fresh from a White House meeting. But though some, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have indicated flexibility toward other options, including early troop redeployments, Bush has made no decisions on a possible new course.

And that's news because...? Someone honestly expects Mr Stay The Course to do something "new"? How naive.

This administration only has a few choice cards up its sleeve and after having power for 6 years, it's used all of them - every single one of them jokers. So, what do you do after you've so mismanaged your illegal war of choice, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people? One thing: make sure your oil buddies abscond with as much profiteering as they can from a country you've turned into a living nightmare while going off to write your memoir about how misunderstood you were.

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