Tuesday, November 28, 2006
AN IMPORTANT ANALYSIS
By Pepe Escobar
"..every big player seems to be laying down a desperate game to "save" Iraq. This includes the ongoing summit between Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and his Iranian counterpart Mahmud Ahmadinejad in Iran and this week's meeting between President George W Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Jordan.The Talabani-Ahmadinejad meeting was supposed to have included Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syria had to walk a careful diplomatic tightrope to evade Iran's invitation without alienating a close ally and at the same time send a signal to Washington it is willing to talk with no preconditions.
But they all have forgotten to consider the guerrilla point of view; as far as the Sunni Arab resistance is concerned, any summit is guilty of legitimizing the "puppet" Iraqi government.
As for the helpless Maliki, there's not much for Bush to lecture him about; his days in power may be numbered. According to various and persistent reports, including from Western and Arab networks, a coup d'etat may be in the works in Baghdad: the US in the Green Zone may have enlisted four of Saddam's Sunni Arab generals with the mission of toppling the Shi'ite-majority Maliki government to install a regime of "national salvation". It would then restructure the Shi'ite-dominated ministries of Defense and Interior and finish off Shi'ite militias such as the Badr Organization of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Mehdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr.
But only a Saddam-style dictator is capable of assuring a strong, stable central government in Baghdad in charge of security for everyone, with no discrimination. That would mean alienating the Shi'ite religious parties and their paramilitary factions to the limit.
A web of myth continues to be spun by much of the world's press, according to which Iran, as an overpowering entity, uses the US occupation to crush the Sunni Arab resistance while manipulating Shi'ite militias. This is a two-pronged fallacy. The Pentagon's finest in Iraq are not crushing anything - on the contrary. Al-Qaeda in Iraq has all but installed an Islamic emirate in al-Anbar province, while the Mehdi Army reigns in Kufa, south of Baghdad, and in Sadr City in Baghdad itself.
What the Shi'ite Islamic parties in power and Tehran agree on is a crucial point: the Sunni Arab resistance must be vanquished. But Muqtada's position is more nuanced: as a true Iraqi nationalist, he does not rule out agreements with Sunni Arabs with the supreme objective of kicking the occupiers out. Meanwhile, the US military will keep being caught in a deadly trap - between the sprawling, underground Sunni Arab resistance and the Shi'ite militias' non-stop rampage.
Everyone is guilty in the ongoing Iraq tragedy. The US-trained new Iraqi army is infiltrated by militias, by death squads and even by al-Qaeda in Iraq. The SCIRI, Da'wa and the Kurds are only worried about their own interests, not the interests of Iraq as a nation. And the US - always hiding under the dubious mantra of "Iraqi democracy" - totally evades its responsibility in provoking the appalling chaos in the first place.
The ISG may recommend more summits and more covert contacts with the Sunni Arab resistance. Ahmadinejad, Talabani and Assad may even meet again. But Baghdad sources close to the resistance in the Sunni belt have told Asia Times Online of another coup in the making - and that goes way beyond the removal of the Maliki government.
Secular former Ba'athists and Saddam's fighters congregated in the Army of Mohammed - the paramilitary wing of the Awda Party - are already in control of the Syrian border (and not Salafi-jihadis of the al-Qaeda kind).
The next big step for the Sunni Arab resistance - according to sheikhs of the powerful Shammar Sunni tribe - would be to take out the Badr Organization, holed up in the Ministry of the Interior, and the two most murderous factions of the Mehdi Army. That would mean an Iraqi nationalist purge of the hated "Iranians". And that implies an all-out attack on the Green Zone.
The return of the Ba'athists and the fall of the Green Zone: now that's a prime-time double bill to knock 'em dead."