On July 9, 2007 it was reported that the Iraqi government of Dr. Nouri Kamal al-Maliki had failed to meet many of the benchmarks set for it. Although there are mixed reports about the success of the “surge”—significant successes in bringing Sunnis to battle against al-Qaédaversus horrific daily casualty rates from suicide car-bombings—it should not come as a major surprise that the current Iraqi government is not fulfilling its duty to produce a greater success rate and to foster reconciliation among the three major Iraqi ethnic/religious groups.Read the whole thing, including what can be done to fix this.
Why? Why shouldn’t we be surprised at al-Maliki’s failure to meet fully even one US benchmark?
First, let’s review a little bit of background information. Iraq’s multi-party political system seems to be difficult for many Westerners to understand. It is essential to overcome this failure of comprehension and come to a realization that within Iraq’s three major ethnic/religious communities there are many, many different political parties and groups. However, one major dividing line within Iraqi society is not that between ethnic/religious communities (Shi‘ite, Sunni, and Kurd) but rather between fundamentalist and non-fundamentalist interpretations of the Islam that is the common religion of the bulk of Iraqis.
Although the political groupings and coalitions remain complicated, one basically may say that the non-fundamentalists are willing to build a united independent Iraq; the radical fundamentalists desire to resurrect the Muslim caliphate. As such, these fundamentalists—be they Sunnis tied to al-Qaéda, Kurdish members of Ansar al- Islam/Ansar al-Sunna, or Shi‘ites supporters of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim’s SCIRI/SIIC (Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, aka Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council) or Moqtada al-Sadr’s Jaish al-Mahdi (the al-Mahdi Army, which is the militia of the al-Daawa Party, and not coincidently also Nouri al-Maliki’s political party)—these Iraqi radical fundamentalists are supported by and beholden to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Put simply: al-Maliki is not independent; he receives support and is subservient to the mullahs of Tehran. As long as al-Maliki and his radical fundamentalist Shi‘ite coalition lead the Iraqi government, Tehran will be calling the shots. It doesn’t matter that Dr al-Maliki and his colleagues wear ties and western suits—they are still Islamist radicals nonetheless and allies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Given the overwhelming evidence of Iranian support for both the extremist militias of the Sunni al-Qaéda and the Shi‘ite Badr and Wolf Brigades and al-Mahdi Army that have caused so much chaos and destruction to Iraqi society, it should be a clear sign that Iran is in control when both Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki make frequent visits to Tehran to consult with Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It should not come as a great surprise that the al-Maliki government is not meeting its commitments to the US. Ayatollah Khamenei doesn’t want to see America help create a real democracy in Iraq, and al-Maliki is following Khamenei’s orders to prevent the rise of an independent, secular Iraq. Although subservient to Iran, al-Maliki’s radical Shi‘ite government currently holds the reins of power and is content with such an arrangement in which the Sunnis remain odd-man out. No wonder that there has not yet been any success in enacting a law for equitable distribution of the oil wealth among the three ethnic/religious communities.
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