Middle East


Well, gotta love this:

Some faction of the Kurds have revealed their own strategic goal by dissassociating themselves from it.  That is, some diaspora groups are protesting in the United States that Turkey wants to invade Kurdistan for Kirkuk.  It doesn’t have anything to do with PKK depredations on their soil, of course–or the incipient threat of destabilization throughout Iraq, spreading north, and compromising Turkey’s security in general.  Oh, no, it’s that oil again.

Let’s go for that conspiracy scenario, just long enough to kill it For Ever:
1. Turkey, with, uh, WAY MORE military capability than the U.S., has decided that they could conduct war with Iraq in a far more efficient fashion than the U.S. ever could. 

Nah.  The paranoids may have a point with that efficiency thing: on the other hand, seeing that the U.S. actually has the capability, and can’t guarantee security, it seems past ridiculous to think that Turkey would go flying, marching, and tanking on in to the same revenue-threatening and life-threatening black hole of Iraq in order to take on a town that is primed for resentment and strife.

2.  One protester stated that Turkey is not afraid of the PKK, but rather afraid of a Kurdish state.  And of course this makes, yes, perfect sense. 

Nope: The PKK wants to bomb Turkish towns and resorts, killing innocent people and being sneaky about it, disrupt the economy and create conflict and strife.  The Kurdish state wants to ship oil through Turkey and get on with making money.  Uh, I know Turkey is completely unfavorable to the idea of generating income, preferring instead to foment domestic instability and gleefully hailing each incident of lost infrastructure.  It’s just this attitude that makes Turkey a force for good in the international system–

Personally, I believe that Kurdish-Americans would go a lot further by deprecating the PKK and trying to help Turkey provide goods and services for its own ethnic Kurdish residents.  Oh, and building partnerships to keep those pipelines in northern Iraq in good order: for the good of Iraq, Kurdistan, and Turkey–heck, the world at large.  Hope you’ll think about it–and then do something constructive. 

Kirkuk is a mess, but not Turkey’s mess:
Consider the machinations, forced importations and deportations that have been occurring in Kirkuk: the blame doesn’t rest with Turkey: a history of forced Kurdish deportations from the Kirkuk area has been rectified with new human rights violations–forced non-Kurdish deportations from Kirkuk. 

The stratagems may be based upon history, but history has not taught compassion.  Right now, the paranoia of the non-Kurdish Kirkuk residents is the justifiable paranoia: because they’ve been had.  It’s a bad business, and Turkey’s got nothing to do with it.

Everything but Iraq, since this troubled state got its own post earlier.

Asia-Pacific:
♦ Almost like sports scores with the trade wars: China is now finding small nematodes in U.S. wooden crating.  Something undisclosed was wrong with some U.S.-origin frozen potatoes (no French fries today), and some vitamins and fish oil were guilty of false advertising.  As far as the ick factor in the product du jour goes, we’ve had melamine, lead, fugitive weeds, dirt, worms, and steroids.  Things to look out for next: spit, arachnids, cockroaches, slime molds, and stem cells, depending upon which side of the Pacific you’re on.
♦ Talks between U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill and DPRK Ambassador Kim Kye-gan went well in Geneva.  This coming Wednesday, Mongolia hosts the next chapter in the Six-Party Talks with diplomats from North Korea and Japan attending.
♦ The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum is in Sydney this week, with tons of security and a kick-off on climate change issuesAllan Gyngell at The Australian Age has a great backgrounder on the history of the organization, its sometimes sagging progress, and real achievements.
Australia’s contribution to Pacific stability at The Strategist.

Former Soviet Union:
♦ At NewEurasia.net, Ben Paarman looks at possible changes in Central Asia’s relations to great powers via the tired metaphor of the Great Game.  A great read  for Central Asia watchers.
♦ Get up-to-date on the new problems in the Caspian/Kazakhstan oil at the Kashagan field, at FPA Central Asia.
♦ Russia is going to put missiles in Belarus, if NATO is going to put them in Poland.
♦ Anna Politovskaya, the brave, committed, and murdered Russian journalist, would have been 49 this past week.  Robert Amsterdam documents the investigation as driven by political agendas rather than a desire for justice.

Latin America:
♦ Mr. Obama, U.S. Presidential candidate, said during his campaign that the U.S. should consider diplomacy with Cuba and opening up remittance payments, and the LA Times explains why.  H/T: Boz.   Then Professor Weeks sums up the anti-Castro backlash as diplomatic amateur hour in two paragraphs. 
♦ In a move to be imitated by world leaders everywhere, Lula declines a third presidential term.
Grief and destruction from Peru’s earthquake.

Middle East: and North Africa:
A call for unity within Islam, and the adoption of a social agenda, with a look at what makes Hizb ut-Tahrir compelling, at Tabsir.net.
Aquoul has a three part series on Moroccan elections, which is a very interesting beginning on learning the politics of the state.  Part 1 discusses the role of the King in Morocco’s democracy; Part 2, the situation for a free media; and Part 3, on interior security and political parties.  It’s referenced and the comments are good, too.

Afghanistan:
Taken in part from The Afghanistan Aggregator at FPA Central Asia, which has more:
♦ David Rohde on the Taliban v. Afghanistan’s police: the new tactics of the Taliban, including 102 suicide bombings, IEDs–against a police force which is rife with corruption and under-trained, under-equipped, etc, at the NYT.
♦ The last 19 South Korean hostages were freed over the past two days, in small groups at various collection points.  Of 23 hostages from the ROK kidnapped July 17th, two male hostages had been killed, and two previously released.  The South Korean goverment had to agree to withdraw their troops (as previously planned) by the end of the year.  They also had to agree to respect Taliban isolationism, including no missionaries (no surprise) but no visitors of any kind.  An undisclosed ransom has also likely been paid.
♦ Now that the hostages are freed, a backlash against the alleged reckless endangerment of missionaries by Church societies will begin.
♦ A Taliban spokesman has reportedly vowed that the Taliban will continue their kidnapping activities.  And so it seems: the Taliban possibly captured as many as 100 Pakistani soldiers this week.  And Mayor Shah is still missing from last week.  German hostages are still missing. 

Iran:
♦ Mr. Ahmadinejad says Iran has met its centrifuge goal: 3,000 in 164 cascades.  However, this is disputed by analysts in Europe, who say that Iran’s activity has actually lessened, which is disputed by Iran.
♦ So is this deterrence?  The U.S.-planned 1200 military targets in a three-day swipe over Iran, if necessary.
♦ After the U.S. was threatening to list the Quds force as a terrorist organization, Iran replaced its leader.  The new leader is: Brigadier General Mohammed Ali Jafari, replacing General Yahya Rahim Safavi, who has been its leader for the past decade. 
♦ Iran plans to build two new refineries in its southern region/Bandar Abbas.  Also, a new oil dock is being designed for incipient construction.

Energy Issues:
Prices as per August 31, 2007: Brent crude, USD 72.38 per barrel; West Texas Intermediate, USD 73.87.
See also Kashagan field in FSU above, and Iran’s refineries, in Iran above.

Happy Labor Day Norteamericanos, doing no labor–unless, of course, you are in a service industry.  For those of you in the service field, I hope your next day off is very nice.

 

There was Way too Much to editorialize concerning Iraq this week, so it gets its own special edition in the Weekly Rambling Intelligence feature . . .

Announcements:
One: Iraqi Slogger has gone membership only, USD 60 per month as of today.  It’s a great site, aggregating all the Iraq news, and this is your last week to link to it from Ramblin’ Gal (so you can enroll).  Two: for those of you very interested in Iraq affairs, this week Joshua Foust at the Conjecturer gave the blow-by-blow daily readout, which he does extremely well.  This post will get you started

Congress gets a Clue, or Three:
This is so funny/not: finally the Congressional members on FFMs in Iraq realized they were living in a fantasy when they discovered the cheat sheet each person in the Green Zone had on them about their Iraq votes.  It’s very sad when our best personnel in the most dangerous place have to act like they work for Dear Leader.  And it seems to suggest that partisanship, and not military knowledge, continues to run this effort right into the ground.

Worse, this information was available in Harper’s years ago, en embryo, with the wallet sized card the soldiers carry around to remind them how to treat the press.  It’s fatuity that has kept this realization from Congress for so long.  Maybe it will also come to mind that their gratuitous FFMs could be diverting staff from real work–but nah. 

For a different delegation, reality did rear its head: or its surface-to-air missile: evasive maneuvers as the last delegation left.  They were actually being shot at, which is such a bummer for the spinner’s orchestration.  Maybe they can call it the parting strains of the 1812 2007 Overture.  Or maybe that will make these lawmakers feel more falsely akin to the troops who put up with this as a matter of course. 

An independent commission set up by Congress notes the corruption and sectarianist bents of the Iraqi Police.

The U.S. General Accounting Office reports that only three of the eighteen benchmarks are being met, not eight out of eighteen (again an almost useless way to measure the benchmarks), which has electrified Congress yet again– But here’s a surprise: Bush fights back.

Matt Taibbi on the cost-plus contract at Rolling Stone: cronyism created the police academy rendered unusable by poor plumbing, a stock-exchange started by a 24 year old Republican American neophyte–and more.  It reeks.  And if you don’t trust Rolling Stone, you can read GAO Report No. 07-711, DOD cannot ensure that US-Funded Equipment Has Reached Iraqi Security Forces, (pdf, 25 pages), or the one-page Highlights.

The U.S. is not processing enough applications for Iraq refugees who have assisted the U.S. and are most at risk if things get worse: this goes double for those who have worked with contractors and are not acknowledged as being at risk.

Iraq in Iraq:
The Kurdish Region now has a fatal cholera outbreak

I see little political rapprochement-this Iraq analyst sees that political decisions are not so much the problem as that politics has not translated to economic policies, and that neither politics nor economics has been taken to the people.  One case in point: the relatively more-stable Kurdish areas are having difficulty providing utilities to its citizens, because the central Government has not built any power infrastructure in the region.  Therefore, the KRG has made its own arrangements with Qatar.  Yet another reason why the center cannot hold.

The good news is that General Petraeus solicits independent thinking and analysis from his junior officers.  One report he received was leaked to the Washington Post, which says that Iraq’s central government is a participant in Civil War.  All are denying it, because it will serve no purpose in the field, but many are acknowledging its truth in private.

Violence in Karbala, when Shia religious observation was rendered deadly between Sunni/Shia and then became inter-Shia factional fighting between Sadrists and SIIC elements.  On Tuesday, Mr. al-Sadr declares a ceasefire for six months, which, after SIIC headquarters in Najaf, Kufa, Baghdad and Iskandaria are bombed, has actually lasted more than six hours.  However, the Sadrists insist they will not take it well if their members are detained, questioned, or otherwise interfered with.  Huh.

Following al-Sadr’s lead, the Iraqi government calls for a universal cease-fire: not the other way around . . .  not too much good news this week. 

About two weeks until the September Benchmark Report. . . I’ll probably do this again next week.  There’s plenty more news where all this came from; this post could be twice as long . . .

Pakistan soldierNot so long ago, the United States looked at Pakistan as a “valuable ally in the war against terror” and relied upon Pakistan’s military and security forces for intelligence and aid in capturing Taliban and al-Qaeda suspects.  Prior to the Twin Towers Massacre, Pakistan, like Afghanistan, was not much on U.S. diplomatic radar.  Recently, Daniel Markey wrote an article in Foreign Affairs (see reference below) that essentially says we need a broader approach–and not reproach–when talking to Pakistan.

College of Family MedicineMr. Markey notes that many U.S. officials, legislators, (and Presidential candidates) have become disenchanted with Pakistan’s contribution to Afghanistan’s security.  They have questioned Pakistan’s commitment to counter-terrorism in the wake of rising trouble in Afghanistan, the near-anarchic rule in the Pakistan’s northwest territories, and incidents such as the Red Mosque confrontation, which, from our vantage point, never should have been allowed as long as it had been.  Wedding Guests, PakistanIn essence, U.S. observers see Pakistan as a beneficiary of U.S. aid and trade ties, but with no effect on terrorism.  Over at Registan.net, Dr. Azari writes that Afghanistan’s delegates to the Peace Jirga seemed to feel that Taliban depredations were either permitted or aided in some way by the military. Most recently, on August 21, the NYT reported that Pakistan had released an al-Qaeda suspect that it had held in detention for the past three years.  The release was determined by the Supreme Court, who said that his detention without trial was unlawful.  

Pakistan missileLeaving U.S. negligence and mistakes aside, as these arguments surely do, Markey notes first that Pakistan left U.S. diplomatic orbit in much the same way and at the same time that Afghanistan did: when the Soviets left Afghanistan.  Post 9/11, Bush II’s U.S. diplomacy has not extended past the military and security apparatus in Pakistan.  Civil society, poverty reduction, the rule of law and democratization have not been on the U.S. agenda for Pakistan, which gives its diplomacy a one-note character.

 Pakistan's Agosta-3 SubsIn the intervening years between Soviet pull-out and U.S. entry,  Markey says that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) retains ties to militant groups and recruits personnel from them.  This was not in support of terrorism, but in support of Pakistan’s claims to Kashmir.  To me, this is somewhat of a stretch, but it does serve to remind policymakers that Pakistan has more than one issue as part of its foreign policy.  Just this week, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Mr. Khursid Mehmood Kasuri stated in Parliament (during debates occasioned by disparaging remarks from the U.S.) that Pakistan could not afford to be isolated, that it desired good relations with the U.S., with the EU, China, Russia, Japan, Germany, and Asian states in general. 

Pakistan WinsU.S. arguments against Pakistan’s commitment also ignore the risks that Mr. Musharraf has undertaken, with several assassination attempts against his life.  (The third attempt was in September of 2002; another in December 2003; another this year).   Furthermore, numerous terrorist suspects apprehended in Pakistan.

The rest of Mr. Markey’s article suggests ways to broaden U.S. diplomacy.  He cautions that engagement in Pakistan’s civil society cannot be at the expense of the military diplomacy, but that ensuring Pakistan’s good will has to extend to the people.  Elections, for instance, are widely expected this fall in Pakistan, and giving fodder for isolationist candidates would be foolish and without utility for U.S. interests.

Karachi Golf CourseThe rest of his solutions also recommend a balanced approach, remembering that Pakistan is diverse and complex.  The illustrations throughout this post are intended to convey that diversity.  Mr. Markey’s article can be found at:

Daniel Markey’s  A False Choice in Pakistan.  Foreign Affairs, July/August 2007, pp. 85-102; or at the Council of Foreign Affairs Web site

Photos: Defenselink of USDOD; Global Family Doctor.com; Graham Hays of Australia; The Hindu; Warships IFR.com; Tribune India; Answers.com. 

Africa:
♦ I don’t usually cover Africa in the RI, but this article about Darfur cannot be passed by.  As usual, Dan Graeber hits the essentials in this brutal, piteous world.

Asia-Pacific:
♦ The China-U.S. trade quality war Escalates again: now it is U.S. soybeans, with considerable dirt, pesticide, and weeds.  The latter conditions would allow for perhaps large changes in Chinese biomes–sort of like the kudzu vine that took over the South.  Also U.S. oil-seed.  Best-case scenario? All of this ends up increasing quality in the long term.  In the short term: heck, no.  In the meantime, the toy-and-dog-biscuit inspections in the U.S. proceed apace.
♦ The increasing importance of relations between India and Japan.  India’s maritime might, now and in the future.
♦ Australia’s military defense strategies and the debate over economic v. military security at The Strategist.
♦ In India’s Hyderabad, 34 people die because of bombing. 

Former Soviet Union:
♦ Italy’s ENI is re-negotiating in Kazakhstan over delayed extraction and environmental issues.
♦ Little beef-kiev-cake for ya.  Holy Samovar!!
♦ Mr. Saakashvili of Georgia on living next to Russia at Robert Amsterdam.  Russia denies all.
♦ Russia’s LUKoil cuts supplies to Germany by 30% over the last two months.

Latin America:
♦ Hurricane Dean in Mexico: at least 26 have died from the storm.
♦ Peru’s earthquake: at least 510 are dead, with more casualties being found.  Quisiera expresar mis condolencias al gente de las dos paises.
♦ The FEALAC symposium met this week this week in Brasilia, as reported by Boz. According to AFP, the Forum for East Asian-Latin American Cooperation includes: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, and from Latin America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.
♦ Venezuela–now cutting bus fares for the indigent in London.  Now buying 98 Ilyushin aircraft from Russia, for cargo or passengers . . . or, not.
♦ According to an extract provided from this post, Castro is in no way dead.  So there you are.
♦ Pollution from blue jeans in Mexico.

Middle East:
♦ Afghanistan:  Just three out of many from FPA Central Asia’s Afghanistan Aggregator, plus one update:
◊ Afghanistanica has a great post on Afghanistan scholars to watch, read, and study.
◊ Another article on the mystery of not-enough translators for Afghanistan, also at Afghanistanica.
◊ Mr. Foust at Registan.net on basic flaws in reconstruction aid .  A good start on the issue, with links for more.
◊ Friendly fire (what a term) from U.S. aerial bombardment kills 3 British soldiers and injures two more in Helmand Province. 
Iran:
◊ New in-the-works U.S. intelligence report is pessimistic about Iran, as reported by AP.  More nukes, no overthrow of Ahmadinejad, more weapons traffic. . .
◊ Iran plans to continue developing a 2,000 pound ‘smart bomb’.  Great.
♦ Iraq:
◊ Iraq’s elites are still leaving as fast as possible. 
◊ A Berlin study says Iraq will disintegrate soon.  The new U.S. NIE  on Iraq is not hopeful. 
◊ The Brits are leaving Basra any day now.

Iraq / U.S. Politics:  I tried to cover this in the op-ed war posts that I wrote yesterday.  Here is one post on Mr. Allawi, and here is one on a must-read editorial from staff officer veterans of Iraq.

Energy:
♦ Storm damage notwithstanding, Pemex is back in business, bringing oil to the U.S.
♦ Storm damages notwithstanding, Energy Prices a little more stable overall.  As of August 23rd: Brent crude, USD 69.58; West Texas intermediate, USD 69.68. 
♦ Rounding out the North American picture on U.S. energy imports, The Oil Drum has started a series on oil sands extraction, which does not look attractive. 

Overall, the message this week to me is two-fold: we need to plan international endeavours so carefully, in terms of both physical and energy security. 

Have a great week, everyone!

The op-ed coup d’etat between Mr. Maliki and Mr. Allawi is only part of the juxtapositioning over the September Benchmark report and the non-progress it will be required to present:

Op-ed war of words no. 2: Quality and quantity
On July 30, Kenneth Pollack and Michael O’Hanlon wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that Iraq was “A War We just might Win“, something that every Republican Presidential candidate has found interesting for the wrong reasons: that a so-called liberal paper would hold an editorial favorable to Mr. Bush’s goals.   

Immediately afterward, a long-time Iraq correspondent, Jonathan Finer, wrote in the Washington Post that these two, and indeed all, Green Zone Investigators (which includes Congresspersons, pundits, national security advisors, Presidential candidates, etc) never get out to see anything and their epiphanies are at best, suspect.   Like so many, Mr. Finer focussed on location, (ie, the Green Zone) but he also (at last) included the element of time, calling these “snapshot tours”.  No fact-finding mission of a week will tell you what is going on in Iraq, whether surrounded by BlackHawk helicopters and handlers or not. 

I’m sure of four things: a. that trips to Iraq serve as legitimizers to all who go, even for that three-day weekend.  b. that the feeling of fear that all of these day-trippers have as they go back and forth from the Green Zone feels real enough to introduce a kind of reality to the trip.  c. that people such as Mr. O’Hanlon and Mr. Pollack get information that we don’t get, study Iraq often and with numbers. and d. I’ve also heard with my own ears Mr. Pollack talk publicly about this war as a debacle.  The editorial they cited was hedged: failure was still exceedingly possible, and despite the title of the op-ed, it did not really sound like a “win”.  And despite Mr. Finer’s characterization, it sounds as if the two Brookings trippers went past the Green Zone, to Mosul, Tal Afar, Ramadi, and the “Ghazni neighborhood of Baghdad.”  Of course, they did this in eight days, and I doubt even the complexity of the Ghazni neighborhood could be adequately assessed in that time.  But this is their view:

Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily “victory” but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.

After the furnace-like heat, the first thing you notice when you land in Baghdad is the morale of our troops. In previous trips to Iraq we often found American troops angry and frustrated — many sensed they had the wrong strategy, were using the wrong tactics and were risking their lives in pursuit of an approach that could not work.

Today, morale is high.

I have a little sympathy for Mr. Hanlon and Mr. Pollack because it’s just horribly risky to write a positive-sounding op-ed, especially when there’s so much data to the contrary.  I’ve done it myself, and if you’re not a pessimist you look like a fool.  But unfortunately, this week the NYT ran an editorial from non-GZ Trippers, i.e., staff officers that have been hip-deep in Iraqi dust and sweat and blood for 15 months with the 82nd Airborne.

Being there, and being there:

As responsible infantrymen and noncommissioned officers with the 82nd Airborne Division soon heading back home, we are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable and feel it has neglected the mounting civil, political and social unrest we see every day. (Obviously, these are our personal views and should not be seen as official within our chain of command.)  

One of these NCO’s, SSgt. Murphy, currently has a head wound, and this underscores that sympathy ultimately should not go to the optimistic op-ed writer but to the practitioner.  And these practitioners slam the ivory-tower, marble-halled view:

The claim that we are increasingly in control of the battlefields in Iraq is an assessment arrived at through a flawed, American-centered framework. Yes, we are militarily superior, but our successes are offset by failures elsewhere. What soldiers call the “battle space” remains the same, with changes only at the margins. It is crowded with actors who do not fit neatly into boxes: Sunni extremists, Al Qaeda terrorists, Shiite militiamen, criminals and armed tribes. This situation is made more complex by the questionable loyalties and Janus-faced role of the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army, which have been trained and armed at United States taxpayers’ expense.

A few nights ago, for example, we witnessed the death of one American soldier and the critical wounding of two others when a lethal armor-piercing explosive was detonated between an Iraqi Army checkpoint and a police one. Local Iraqis readily testified to American investigators that Iraqi police and Army officers escorted the triggermen and helped plant the bomb. These civilians highlighted their own predicament: had they informed the Americans of the bomb before the incident, the Iraqi Army, the police or the local Shiite militia would have killed their families.

As many grunts will tell you, this is a near-routine event. Reports that a majority of Iraqi Army commanders are now reliable partners can be considered only misleading rhetoric. The truth is that battalion commanders, even if well meaning, have little to no influence over the thousands of obstinate men under them, in an incoherent chain of command, who are really loyal only to their militias.

Thus, according to this last op-ed, the splintering in politics is well-represented with continued splinters in security.

More, and more:
Yesterday, John Warner R-Va, came back from a four-day trip to Iraq and said it’s time to start withdrawing troops, about 5,000 this year, in the hopes of prodding Iraq’s politicians to get going. 

The new August National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, that part of it which we are privileged to see, anyway, (10 pages, give me a break) is against troop withdrawals and yet offers not too much in the way of encouragement.   It is a supplement to the National intelligence Estimate from January/February 2007.

The op-ed wars continue. . . . .  the Benchmark Report will be presented on September 11, yes, 9/11.  I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. 

War of Wards: Mr. Allawi v. Mr. al-Maliki
Who has Iraq in charge, and who wants to be there?  The last hope of reaching political consensus within Iraq’s political factions came and went two weeks ago, when the Sunni boycotted the legislative special session all the way to recess.  That has ended the most important benchmark indicators for Bush in his upcoming fight with Congress–not to mention the fact that it’s not good for Iraq to have a non-functional, over-factionalized government.  Also, the two sets of Kurdish politicians cannot decide between Iraq and Kurdistan as national entities.  And more.

Then there are more splits.  Today, Ayad Allawi’s INP party, which holds 25 of 275 seats and 5 ministerial positions, announced it would be leaving al-Maliki’s government.  On April 18, Allawi wrote an editorial in the Washington Post that stated, among other things, that:

Responsibility for the current mess in Iraq rests primarily with the Iraqi government, not with the United States. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed to take advantage of the Iraqi people’s desire for peaceful and productive lives and of the enormous commitment and sacrifices made by the United States and other nations.

On August 20th, Iraqslogger.com broke the story that Allawi has retained a Bush-insider’s  lobbying firm, BRG, to represent Allawi’s interests and put down al-Maliki’s pretensions to office within the White House, Congress, and staffers in both places.  It only costs USD 300,000. for six months, part of which was a mail-out of this made-for-U.S.-egos editorial.  While certainly Iraq’s politicians have a long way to go, one needs only look at the poor politics, poor planning, and massive waste on this end to realize that Mr. Allawi has concocted the perfect set of excuses for the U.S. administration: some people haven’t gotten with the plan.  The funadamental problem with this view is that there was no plan. 

According to the same IraqSlogger article, BRG also represents the Kurdistan Regional Government in Washington.

The Allawi Memos seem to have been having an effect.  Mr. Bush II distanced himself from Mr. al-Maliki just this week, prompting an angry response from the Iraqi Prime Minister.  Bush then tried to retrieve some lost ground at a speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) convention the next day.

However, there are other rifts besides those manufactured by BRG.  Last November, Mr. al-Maliki snubbed Mr. Bush II over leadership issues.  In late July, the London Telegraph published an account of General Petraeus’ rocky relationship to Mr. al-Maliki, which apparently includes shouting matches with Ambassador Crocker looking on.  At the same time, an article in the NYT detailed the close coordination between the two leaders via teleconferencing and other means, which have led to limited results.

This is the more recent news than part 2, on the benefits/costs of the Surge as noted in the op-ed wars.  However, both are significant.  This particular war of words shows that political solutions are far away in Iraq, and also in the U.S. when discussing Iraq.  And that lobbying here interferes there.

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