Sunday, April 13, 2014

Editorial: If the US wants to reduce the violence in Iraq . . .

If the US government wants to reduce the violence in Iraq, it's not that hard: Get rid of Nouri al-Maliki.

Not Quite There

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Not Quite There."

The Iraqi people attempted to get rid of Nouri in 2010.  Their votes put Iraqiya in the lead.  Nouri lost to Iraqiya.

Instead of supporting the results of a democratic election, US President Barack Obama had US officials broker The Erbil Agreement -- a legal contract which overrode the vote of the people to give loser Nouri al-Maliki a second term as prime minister.

And it's been all out hell ever since.

It doesn't have to be that way.

As explained in Saturday's "I Hate The War:"

What is termed 'al-Qaeda' in Iraq is actually a group of bodies.  Their only common issue at present is opposting to Nouri's rule.
Want to break them up right now?  Pay attention, Barack -- remove Nouri from power.
That requires no troops.  It only requires an honest election (as took place in 2010) and that the results be honored (which did not happen).
If Nouri is not prime minister for a third term, you're going to see the bond that binds the various groups break away.
Violence, once another person is named prime minister-designate, could actually fall as a result.

No third term for Nouri could provide a brief respite in violence as everyone waits to see what a new leader means.

No third term for Nouri could mean that a loose grouping of rebels, militants and others no longer share a common bond.

The solution is so easy.

And, as C.I. noted in "I Hate The War," preventing Nouri's third term doesn't require bombs or bullets, it just requires that the White House get honest and stop covering for Nouri.  Talk about how refused to honor The Erbil Agreement, talk about how for his entire second term, as violence has grown worse and worse, he's refused to nominate people to head the security ministries.

Iraq has no Minister of Defense, for example.  They haven't for four years.

This is huge in a country where violence has been increasing.

If the White House briefed on that, if the State Dept. did, the press would have to include those details in their reports.

Maybe the solution is missed because the obvious root of the violence is so often overlooked?

February 20, 2014, C.I. explained the root cause:

Grasp what took place in 2010, the voters unseated Nouri.  But Barack wouldn't allow that to happen. And that's why Barack's hands are just as bloody as Nouri al-Maliki's are.  He ensured the tyrant stayed in power and he refused to demand that the power-sharing contract (one he ordered negotiated) be honored.
When a people have voted out a violent dictator but he stays in office?  When their other political leaders go through legal procedures to remove him from office but the Constitutional measure are not honored?  When the people take to the streets to protest and they're ignored?
What the hell is left but violence?
If you need something more than my take, in August the International Crisis Group issued "Make or Break: Iraq’s Sunnis and the State" and this was their take on Hawija:

As events in Syria nurtured their hopes for a political comeback, Sunni Arabs launched an unprecedented, peaceful protest movement in late 2012 in response to the arrest of bodyguards of Rafea al-Issawi, a prominent Iraqiya member. It too failed to provide answers to accumulated grievances. Instead, the demonstrations and the repression to which they gave rise further exacerbated the sense of exclusion and persecution among Sunnis.
The government initially chose a lacklustre, technical response, forming committees to unilaterally address protesters’ demands, shunning direct negotiations and tightening security measures in Sunni-populated areas. Half-hearted, belated concessions exacerbated distrust and empowered more radical factions. After a four-month stalemate, the crisis escalated. On 23 April, government forces raided a protest camp in the city of Hawija, in Kirkuk province, killing over 50 and injuring 110. This sparked a wave of violence exceeding anything witnessed for five years. Attacks against security forces and, more ominously, civilians have revived fears of a return to all-out civil strife. The Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qaeda’s local expression, is resurgent. Shiite militias have responded against Sunnis. The government’s seeming intent to address a chiefly political issue – Sunni Arab representation in Baghdad – through tougher security measures has every chance of worsening the situation.
Belittled, demonised and increasingly subject to a central government crackdown, the popular movement is slowly mutating into an armed struggle. In this respect, the absence of a unified Sunni leadership – to which Baghdad’s policies contributed and which Maliki might have perceived as an asset – has turned out to be a serious liability. In a showdown that is acquiring increasing sectarian undertones, the movement’s proponents look westward to Syria as the arena in which the fight against the Iraqi government and its Shiite allies will play out and eastward toward Iran as the source of all their ills.
Under intensifying pressure from government forces and with dwindling faith in a political solution, many Sunni Arabs have concluded their only realistic option is a violent conflict increasingly framed in confessional terms. In turn, the government conveniently dismisses all opposition as a sectarian insurgency that warrants ever more stringent security measures. In the absence of a dramatic shift in approach, Iraq’s fragile polity risks breaking down, a victim of the combustible mix of its long­standing flaws and growing regional tensions.

Why is it that US officials never want to talk reality?  Because doing so would mean taking accountability.

Need another source?  Here's Anthony H. Cordesman and Sam Khazi (CSIS) from two days ago:

Iraq’s main threats, however, are self-inflicted wounds caused by its political leaders. The 2010 Iraqi elections and the ensuing political crisis divided the nation. Rather than create any form of stable democracy, the fallout pushed Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki to consolidate power and become steadily more authoritarian. Other Shi’ite leaders contributed to Iraq’s increasing sectarian and ethnic polarization – as did key Sunni and Kurdish leaders.
Since that time, a brutal power struggle has taken place between Maliki and senior Sunni leaders, and ethnic tensions have grown between the Arab dominated central government and senior Kurdish leaders in the Kurdish Regional government (KRG). The actions of Iraq’s top political leaders have led to a steady rise in Sunni and Shi’ite violence accelerated by the spillover of the extremism caused by the Syrian civil war. This has led to a level of Shi’ite and Sunni violence that now threatens to explode into a level of civil conflict equal to – or higher than – the one that existed during the worst period of the U.S. occupation.

This struggle has been fueled by actions of the Iraqi government that many reliable sources indicate have included broad national abuses of human rights and the misuse of Iraqi forces and the Iraqi security services in ways where the resulting repression and discrimination has empowered al-Qaeda and other extremist groups. As a result, the very forces that should help bring security and stability have become part of the threat further destabilized Iraq.

Their votes were rendered meaningless by US President Barack Obama, their Constitution was rendered meaningless by US President Barack Obama.  

And that's why Iraq is where it is today, veering from one crisis to the next.

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