Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is back in the country, but it's in everyone's interest to make sure he doesn't get back into power.
By Marc Lynch
"Will Iyad Allawi, the rotund one-time Iraqi Prime Minister and current London resident, be the next Prime Minister of Iraq? He certainly seems to want the job, and he suits the Bush administration's agenda suspiciously well. But his return to power would not only fail to end the civil war - it would also signal a decisive end to democratic aspirations in Iraq and the Arab world, increase America's role at a time when most Americans would prefer to leave, and pave the way to a confrontation with Iran......
An Allawi return would mean a decisive break with even the pretence of caring about a democratic Iraq. He would return as a nationalist strongman, putting security (and American priorities) first, while always keeping in mind that elections are not his friend. The legendary corruption of his first government offers a preview of what to expect. So do his easy use of violence against both Sunni and Shia groups, his harsh repression of the media, and his generally anti-democratic instincts. From the vantage point of the emerging "new Middle East", sadly, this anti-democratic profile is an asset rather than a curse. This "Not-Dam Hussein" would be far more amenable to America's friendly Arab tyrants than is any elected, Shia, pro-Iranian alternative.
This may all come to nothing. Perhaps Allawi's return is being orchestrated simply to put pressure on the Maliki government. But when the current "surge" inevitably fails, and Washington's (and Riyadh's) itch to combat Iran grows, keep an eye out for the rotund one. He offers the fantasy of an easy solution to an intractable problem - a "magic bullet" which will only lead us deeper into fiasco."