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November 29, 2006


Blake Hounshell

The suspension seems like it may be symbolic, though, don't you think? They didn't actually pull out of the government.


Blake - like last week, it all comes down to what "suspension" means in the event of a crisis. Probably symbolic - and helps Sadr claim that he doesn't make empty threats. But probably depends also on what happens in Amman - interesting that the meeting got postponed a day, no?

Amy H

Guess who's going to be in Washington next week, and making a number of public speaking appearances? The title of one of his talks is "reconciling Iraq," which is probably not a typo but a deliberate choice to replace the possibly soon-to-be-abandoned policy of "reconciliation in Iraq."


I give up - Chalabi? Allawi? Tell!

Amy H

HE Sayyed Abdul Aziz Alhakim
President of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)
and the Leader of the United Iraqi Alliance

Blake Hounshell

Hakim was already there, Amy, and apparently he said in front of King Abdullah that the Shi'a would win a civil war.


Given the generally hopeless situation, I don't see a better alternative to backing SCIRI/Badr and Al-Hakim. I admit it is a very bad alternative, I just don't see a better one. The problem in Iraq is anarchy, the absence of a state with a preponderent control over the means of violence. It might have been possible in the first year to build a military and hand it over to an Iraqi leader like Allawi; probably not, but maybe. It's certainly impossible now. Any military organization is immediately infiltrated by the forces of organized violence, badr and sadr.
This seems to me only three forces potentially capable of building state authority in Iraq: "the Sunni urgency" (and it's not clear how unified that abstraction is), the Sadrists and SCIRI. Of these three highly unpalatable alternatives, the least repulsive is SCIRI. If the US allowed them to take over and integrate Badr into the army and militia formally, this might give them the ability to force Sadr to go along or be marginalized and then one would have the potential for a civil war between the SCIRI-dominated state and the Sunni insurgency with an eventual victory of the latter and the establishment of a real state in Iraq. Presumably SCIRI and Iran will soon quarrel, so the worry about Iranian influence is overblown.
Tons of ifs in the scenario, and even its success would be hugely ugly, but is there a better alternative available???

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