7 Aug. 2007

Meanwhile, In What Used To Be Called Iraq...

Next time you hear Howard talking about the glorious new Democratic government in Baghdad, consider this:
The cabinet ministers in the al-Maliki government belonging to the National Iraqi List led by Iyad Allawi suspended their participation on Monday. They did not withdraw altogether from the government, just declined to come to meetings. But now some 17 cabinet ministers have either resigned or suspended their membership, out of 38.

Until the various rifts are repaired, assuming that they can be, it is no longer possible to speak of al-Maliki's as a national unity government. Indeed, it is likely that it is a minority government that does not fall only because it is not clear to parliamentarians what would be gained from inducing its collapse.
And next time you hear Howard or Downer talking about how Al Quaeda or Iran is supporting the insurgents in Iraq, consider this:
The 20-page report - Stabilising Iraq: Department of Defence cannot ensure that US-funded equipment has reached Iraqi security forces - says the Pentagon and the multinational force in Iraq responsible for training "cannot fully account for about 110,000 AK-47 rifles, 80,000 pistols, 135,000 items of body armour and 115,000 helmets reported as issued to Iraqi forces as of September 22 2005".

During that period the US was desperate to get the Iraqi security forces up and running and was arming them as fast as it could.

The failure of the US to account for so many weapons is an embarrassment for the Bush administration after months in which it has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying weapons and explosives to the insurgents.
And next time you hear Howard talking about how things are getting better in Iraq, and should be fully stabilized sometime after he wins the next election, consider this:
Iraq no longer exists as a unified country. The experiment that was Iraq, the cobbling together of disparate and antagonistic patches of the Ottoman Empire by the victorious powers in the wake of World War I, belongs to the history books. It will never come back. The Kurds have set up a de facto state in the north, the Shiites control most of the south and the center of the country is a battleground...

Iraq would not have held together even if we had been spared the gross incompetence of the Bush administration. Saddam Hussein, like the more benign dictator Josip Broz Tito in the former Yugoslavia, understood that the glue that held the country together was the secret police.

Iraq, however, is different from Yugoslavia. Iraq has oil -- lots of it. It also has water in a part of the world that is running out of water. And the dismemberment of Iraq will unleash a mad scramble for dwindling resources that will include the involvement of neighboring states.