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August 16, 2007

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Patrick

Marc~

There are two lines at the bottom of this article (http://www.asharqalawsat.com/details.asp?section=3&article=432864&issue=10488) in Sharq al-Aswat that I think begs your attention. Near as I can tell, someone within the American administration wants it be known that General Petraeus is about to recommend a withdrawal of American forces from Nineveh and Anbar. I don't know how this affects the political calculus in Baghdad, but it's got to be worth something.

aardvark

Interesting - but I'm not sure that we should read too much into it... buried at the bottom of a story like that, in a paper not known for its excellence in journalism...

nur al-cubicle

Since the "Majority" owns the Constitution, there is no reason why they shouldn't be the Majority. Siniora is in a slightly tighter bind, as the Opposition consisting of Shia/non-Maronite Christians has greater demographic weight (55%) behind it while the Sunni opposition in Iraq is 20% or so from what I've understood.

Thomas Strouse

How long can Maliki last in power? How long can he play the game, playing everyone off of each other? I feel like his time is near... He's isolated the Sunnis, but he's brought the Kurds on board for this new alliance. But the Kurds are going to want something out of it. If he doesn't give them a stronger role like they're hoping out of this deal, then Barzani and Talabani could call it quits... and a vote of no confidence could ensue. Moreover, isolating the Sunnis is bound to come back to hurt him. Why is he so reluctant to follow a more straightforward approach and address the genuine grievances common to all of the Sunni groups? He's also getting a little too close to Iran... does he think the US will soon leave his side, and Iran will always be there for him? The US has given him many chances to actually get something done... how long will it be until the US pressures a change in leadership? Does it have enough pressure to push Maliki out of power?

The Lounsbury

Bou Aardvark, just a minor point of irritation, Sunni Arab, Sunni Arab. Talabani is quite Sunni.

I know you know, but still.

Abu Ghayib

In a 275 seat government, you need 138 seats to form a majority. How does this coalition get there?

SCIRI/Badr: 30 seats
Dawa/Dawa Tandhim: 25 seats
Kurds: 58, (or 53 not counting the Kurdish Islamists)

So that's 108-113 seats, lacking at least 25 seats. All of Fadhila's 15 and Sadr's 30 are definitely out, as are Allawi's 25, Alusi's 1, Tawafuq's 44, Mutlaq's 11, and long lost Mishaan Al-Jibouri's 3. That leaves 3 micro-minority seats and 30 or so Shi'a independents.

Either they are counting on absenteeism during the vote, or they are hoping to get enough of the Shi'a independents (which would require basically all of them). Or they're just going to strong arm the vote.

Thomas Strouse

Lounsbury -
Talabani is a Sunni MUSLIM, but not a Sunni Arab. Or perhaps I'm missing your point. He's very Sunni as in he's part of the Sunni conspiracy? What do you mean by Talabani being "quite Sunni?" He's quite Sunni, but also quite a Kurd... at least as far as I know... which means he's not a "Sunni." Even though he is a Sunni Muslim.

Punchy

"There's no other way to spin this: this summit was billed as the last chance, and it has failed. "

Oh, there's a way to spin this. Trust me, the Bush Admin will find a way to spin this as something both expected and temporary. And will leave it out of the upcoming report.

The Lounsbury

Thomas my dear,

You utterly missed the point. Sunni is the ... religion for short hand. Ethnicity is the key, Arab vs Kurd.

I dislike this short hand Sunni = Sunni Arab. Indeed I find it a positively wrong-headed usage. It leads to idiotic things in writing he's Sunni Muslim but not Sunni....

Thomas

Lounsbury -

Your attempt at being precise and politically correct is rather confounding. I believe you have even confused yourself. So what are you saying? Which format do you prefer to use? What would you call Talabani? A Sunni Kurd? What would you call al-Hashemi? A Sunni Arab?

Or do you only like to use Arab and Kurd? If this is so, then your precision lacks one thing.... and that's precision.

Thomas

and i'm not your dear, and i'm not an idiot.

The Lounsbury

Politically correct, dear Thomas, what the bloody fuck is politically correct about precision? I prefer to be precise, if only for the sheet novelty value, idiot.

cd


This looks to be the last governing coalition that Maliki could cobble together in the slow descent to full civil war.

Looking at what's holding it together, it's to appearances (a) shared willingness to keep on waiting out the Americans at present (b) shared desire to achieve monopoly their oil fields (c) shared focus on fighting the Sunni Arabs (who are preoccupied with eliminating AQI, it seems).

I think Kurdish consolidation of control of the Kirkuk oil fields shouldn't take long, perhaps it's fully achieved already. Then the priority shifts to preventing Washington's oil partition, at which point it's in their interests to allow collapse of the Maliki government.

For the Shia parties, the planning is probably to crush al-Sadr. But al-Sadr is no fool and will keep on splitting, undermining, pitting against each other, and fighting all his opponents piecemeal- American, Maliki/SCIRI/Dawa, Iranian, AQI, and Sunni.


bb

A no confidence vote requires an absolute majority of all those entitled to vote. Passing legislation requires only a simple majority, I believe. As substantial numbers of Iraqi legislators live abroad for fear of being blown up, beheaded or drilled by their compatriots, Maliki's numbers look okay on the face of it.

btw if you take the Kurds out of the equation, the Iraqi Shiites command an 80 per cent majority over the Sunni Arabs and this has been the case ever since when. This is a reality the born-to-rule Sunni centrics have difficulty getting their heads around.

J Thomas

bb, I'm interested in your claims about the iraqi population.

Saddam used to claim there were more sunnis and fewer shias. The CIA published estimates of 60% shia and 20% sunni, so that leaving the kurds out it would be a 3:1 ratio. They did this without a census of course, unless they had access to Saddam's secret censuses.

Now pollsters in iraq who try to choose people at random are tending to find 55% shia and 30% sunni, with about 12% kurd. With some consistency they find more sunnis and fewer shias than the CIA estimate predicts. This is important partly because they then tend to adjust their results -- instead of just reporting the raw numbers, they increase the weight of shia and kurd data and decrease that of sunnis to accord with the CIA estimates.

But it is also important if it turns out that they are reflecting reality. 60:20 is 3:1. 55:30 is less than 2:1. It makes a difference both for votes and for armies.

How could we find out these numbers, short of getting a functional iraqi government to take a census?

Primo

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