By Tony Karon
"Outside of the Kurds, the U.S. has no strategic allies of any significance in Iraq, much less principled allies. Whether it’s Prime Minister Maliki or the Supreme Council or the Sunni “Awakening” movement, each of the Iraqi power centers that works with the U.S. does so in order to improve its own position against that of its rivals, not because they share U.S. objectives. A new move by Washington to force Iraq’s government to sign on to an agreement for an open-ended U.S. presence in their country on Washington’s terms pushes all of these Iraqi factions beyond where they’re able to go, since a long-term U.S. presence is opposed not only by Iran and by Moqtada Sadr, but also by the Sunni nationalists in government and the key moderate Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani. It’s almost as if Washington has called for a test of its own political strength in Iraq: If the fate of the oil law he tried to get the Iraqis to pass against their better judgement is any indicator, Bush is unlikely to get an outcome to his liking......"