Sunday, November 14, 2010

Analyst: Iraq Deal is the Work of Outside Powers

Reported in the Daily Star, with Reuters . . . 

 Iraq’s power-sharing deal, hailed as a sign of its factions coming together, is more a result of foreign powers’ influence and was pushed in particular by the US and Iran, analysts say.

Which, of course, raises the issue of legitimacy, the extent to which the agreement - and a second term as prime minister for Nuri al-Maliki - reflects the will of the people.  This analysis suggests that the Iranians gave the deal their imprimatur in large part because they wanted the issue off their plate as they head into new negotiations about their nuclear program.  The US also wanted to see Maliki return as prime minister.  But it's obvious that to the extent that Iraqis opposed to him see him as the anointed one of the Iranians and the US (with each of whom Iraq has been at war at least once in the last 30 years; the war with Iran is seared into the memory of anyone older than 40), he's going to be seen as untrustworthy, and controlled by his foreign masters.

That, in turn, renders the last piece in the analysis even more disturbing.  It's a quote from Iraq expert Reidar Visser:

“One potential long-term scenario is that once he is confirmed, Maliki will try again what he did in 2008, that is develop an independent power base without his coalition partners such as the Kurds and the Sadrists, and once more become a strongman ruler”

That would be, of course, entirely in keeping with the history of Iraq since its birth almost 90 years ago: the balance of power in the hands of a strongman, one who has the backing of the military, or even has emerged from its ranks.  It's a kind of government to which many Iraqis have become conditioned and accustomed - and for which, given the instability since 2003, many have indicated a preference.  Historically, it's the norm.

And for the US, even with all the palaver about democracy and liberation, the most important concern is stability; representative government be damned (cf. Mubarak in Egypt, King Hussein in Jordan, the Saudi monarchs).  And especially attractive to the US as far as Mubarak and Hussein are concerned is their officially friendly relationship with Israel (even if their citizens are seething).  That may be too much for Maliki to deliver.  Iraq's Arab citizens wouldn't stand for it; nor would Iran's government.

The Kurds, on the other hand, have been a different matter altogether in terms of making nice with Israelis.  But Iraq's Kurds are becoming increasingly tied  to Turkey economically, and the mood in Turkey has swung very much against Israel - and, for that matter, the United States.

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