Monday, September 18, 2006

Myth: Weak Prime Ministers in Iraq

We come across this from time to time. First Jaafari - the US objection to him was supposedly that he was too weak to restrain the militias. Now Maliki is another weak Iraqi Prime Minister. US officials in Baghdad are now wondering out loud to the press whether the US should support a traditional Arab strong man instead of these weak leaders.

The obvious solution to the militias and to insurgent forces is for them to be incorporated into the Iraqi army and put into their command structure. With everyone represented in Parliament and laws regarding political reconciliation with the Sunnis negotiated and passed this would provide Iraq with legitimate force and pose little to no risk of fighting against the government.

This army would not reliably flatten Fallujah or Tal Afar but with the entire political leadership opposed to death squads, it would reliably investigate and curtail those if they remained a problem.

Why not implement the obvious solution?

While these forces are loyal to the people who can actually get votes in Parliament, they are not loyal to the United States and people the United States likes but who cannot get votes in Parliament such as Allawi and Chalabi.

Which brings us back to the weak prime ministers.

The United States insists that these armed groups must be eliminated, not folded into the armed forces. The narrative now being presented is that Iraq's political leadership wants to eliminate the groups but are too weak. Hmmm.

The Shiites, if Iraq remains one country are going to have to live with the Sunnis long after the Americans are gone. Do they really want maximum confrontation with the insurgency and the civilian collateral destruction that means? Do they also want the forces that are already loyal to them disarmed in favor of Iraqi auxiliary units of the US occupation army?

Maybe they are actually telling the Americans in the Green Zone that they really wish they could dismantle every fighting force except the army but they find it impossible. Maybe the Americans in the Green Zone are hearing what they want to hear.

If only Iraq had "strong leaders" like Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But would any of them deny the US it's primary policy objective while their nation was occupied by the US?

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