Al-Ahram Weekly Online   5 - 11 October 2006
Issue No. 815
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

A Maliki déjà vu?

In a desperate move to forestall a growing civilian conflict, Iraq's prime minister launches yet another bid to unify warring factions, writes Firas Al-Atraqchi

Click to view caption
An Iraqi woman confronts US soldiers during their scouting mission infront of her house in Obeidi, eastern Baghdad

Ramadan in Iraq for the past three years has been a rather torrid affair but this month's spike in violence may indicate the government is fast running out of options.

Last week, Baghdad was again abuzz with rumours of a possible coup d'état when the entire city was placed under martial law and an all- day curfew was enforced.

Murmurs of a coup have been floating among many Iraqis, particularly those seeking answers to the indelible political and military quagmire that the country has become, since June.

The authorities said they had arrested leading Sunni politician Adnan Al-Dulaimi's bodyguard who allegedly was working with Al-Qaeda to set off a series of bombs in and around the barricaded Green Zone.

Shia MPs were outraged that a Sunni MP could be indirectly tied to such a plot and demanded a shuffle in both the parliament's composition and the distribution of political powers.

As the politicians traded accusations and diatribes, several Sunni workers were kidnapped in two large operations. The bodies of many of them were later found, apparently executed, while others are still unaccounted for.

Stepping into the increasing sectarian forays, PM Nour al-Maliki announced a plan to end the Shia-Sunni rift by forming local security committees throughout Baghdad with equal representation from every political party, sect and tribe. The committees would monitor whether police and the Iraqi army effectively pursue militia fighters after an attack. But the plan falls far short of any significant effort to curb violence because it does not address the disarming of militias, which Maliki had promised in late May, and focuses entirely on Baghdad.

The rest of the country, it seems, can go to hell.

Maliki's bold new plan comes on the heels of several intelligence reports which have indicated the US adventure in Iraq has led to a failing state as the only viable option to dictatorship.

Successive Iraqi governments have failed to rein in their own disparate, squabbling politicians let alone the various militias running amok which are thought to be behind the kidnappings, torture, murder, assassinations and attacks on mosques and holy sites.

But at every turn, the Bush administration has refused to step away from the bloated self- serving, self-righteous propaganda it attempted to swindle its own people with.

In July 2004, the Senate Intelligence Committee issued a searing condemnation of the pre-war claims of Iraq's capacity to wage war against its neighbours and develop weapons of mass destruction. The persistent claim that Iraq had maintained and nurtured ties with Al-Qaeda and was ready to transfer its weapons expertise to the rogue terrorist organisation was dismissed but the administration continued to defend it.

The report bluntly stated that the intelligence used to justify the war on Iraq was inaccurate, unsubstantiated, unwarranted, out-of-date, negligently analysed and warped to fit the so- called bill of war, thereby exhibiting "a broken corporate culture and poor management". Several senators said that had they known the truth they would have never voted for the authorisation US President George Bush needed to invade Iraq.

The News magazine, The Economist, which had been in favour of the invasion of Iraq, remarkably said: "On Iraq, it [the administration] appears to have been hallucinating."

But the media machine on Iraq continued to churn out one lie after another, and managed to pull the wool on the American people. The administration, with all its blundering was re- elected in November 2004 on the new and improved campaign platform that fighting the war in Iraq has made the US -- and the world -- safer and freer from the "terrorists". The White House repeatedly hammered away the line that the terrorists were on the run.

But even that line has proven to be wishful thinking. Last week, The New York Times Sunday quoted a source familiar with a report prepared by 16 US intelligence agencies as saying that the invasion, occupation, and failure to stabilise Iraq had worsened global terrorism, not weakened it.

Another newspaper which had once stood stalwart in defending the administration's rush to war -- The Washington Post -- said the report indicated the war in Iraq was the biggest reason why so-called Islamic extremist violence was spreading.

Those surviving amidst the flurry of hurried burials of loved ones in Iraq do not care about intelligence estimates, assets, and reports. They know the invasion of Iraq has destroyed the country. They know they have no homes to return to. They know they are all targeted. They know the Iraq war has increased terrorism right in their front yards.

And they do not need more empty promises from the Maliki government.

One now wonders what the banner reading Mission Accomplished hung high and proud atop the USS Abraham Lincoln was all about. Was it a misnomer or a display of premature arrogance?

Or was it a telling sign of what the real intent of the Iraq war was all about?

Destroy the country; rip apart its social fabric, set up governments that are assured of sowing civil war and displace its people.

Mission accomplished indeed.

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