IRAQ....Via FDL, Patrick Graham has an entertaining and provocative cover story about Iraq in the Canadian news magazine Macleans this week. Here he is on the Shiite government of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki:
Maliki has been accused of running an "ethno-sectarian" government, but accusing him of running a pro-Shia government is like accusing Bush of running a pro-Republican administration. Like Karl Rove, who hoped to make the Republican party supreme, Maliki seems to want to set up Shia-dominated rule that will control Iraq for generations. And like Rove, he focuses on his base, with little regard for any other point of view unless the U.S. pressures him (even then he pouts and makes vague threats about looking for other allies by which he obviously means Iran).Graham has spent a lot of time in Iraq and has interesting opinions on a wide variety of subjects, including al-Qaeda in Iraq (American PR helped create it); military progress on the ground (largely illusory); the level of corruption in the various ministries ("astonishing"); Iranian meddling (you don't have to be a neocon to know it's for real); the American diplomatic strategy (we've switched horses in midstream from Shia to Sunni); soft partition (forget it); and bad metaphors (don't think of Iraq as if it were the Balkans).
....The great irony of Maliki is that under other circumstances a government like his one that is: a) accused by the U.S. of close relations with an American enemy (Iran); b) running a strategically important country (like Iraq); c) involved in the oppression and murder of one of its minorities (the Sunnis), which is closely linked to an important U.S. ally (the Saudis) is an administration that many Americans would want to eliminate. There is a good chance that if the U.S. Army wasn't there already, Washington would have invaded to get rid of Maliki.
I don't know if Graham is on target with everything he says, but his piece has lots of nice detail and it's worth reading. Check it out.