what I read, and what i don’t – Sat. 19 May 1007: Iraq on verge of collapse
On Saturday, 17 May 2007, I read that Washington’s top official in Iraq said on Thursday: Iraq stepped close to “the edge of the abyss” but is showing signs it can meet political benchmarks set as vital steps towards reconciliation,.”
I read that progress was being made on a revenue-sharing oil law, legislation to allow former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party to take up public posts and on constitutional reform, the three key milestones Washington has set Baghdad’s leaders.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said he was encouraged Iraq had not slipped back into the widespread sectarian violence of a year ago, despite the continued provocation of horrific car bombings, but conceded patience was not “limitless”.
“If I had to evaluate today, and looking purely at the security situation, as devastating as the al Qaeda-led chain of suicide vehicle attacks is, that does not in my mind suggest the failing of the state or of society,” Crocker told reporters.
I read, that Washington is pouring tens of thousands of extra troops into Iraq in a last-ditch bid to avert all-out sectarian civil war between majority Shi’ites and Sunni Arabs dominant under Saddam.
The tactic was adopted to buy time for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government to reach political benchmarks seen by Washington as crucial to national reconciliation. Washington’s top general in Iraq will deliver a progress report in September.
“If this were September I think it would be a terrible mistake to conclude that, because they’ve been able to mount these attacks, that therefore it isn’t working, it isn’t going to work and we just all need to pull stakes,” Crocker said.
I read that he further said: “Sometimes it can be the case that you’ve got to look over the edge to see how deep the abyss really is.”
I am told also, that some progress has been made on the hydrocarbon law but the central government and autonomous, oil-rich Kurdistan in Iraq’s north are at loggerheads over annexes to draft legislation that will decide control of the world’s third largest oil reserves.
Crocker said officials from Kurdistan will travel to Baghdad in the next few days to thrash out last-minute disputes, with a deadline set for the end of May.
A committee this week agreed to send to parliament a plan to reform the constitution but significant difficulties lay ahead.
I read that Sunni Arabs want changes to a constitution they say cedes too much power to Shi’ites and ethnic Kurds. Non-Arab Kurds also oppose wording on the Arab identity of Iraq.
Some Shi’ites also oppose the “deBaathification law” but i read Crocker saying that Iraq’s two vice presidents — Shi’ite Adel Abdul-Mahdi and Sunni Tareq al-Hashemi — had met to further work on a draft wording.
“It’s important for Iraq but also … it’s important in the U.S. and the West that we see evidence that they can come together and do these things,” Crocker said of the three laws.
On Saturday, 19 May 2007, I read that Iraq’s government has lost control of vast areas to powerful local factions and the country is on the verge of collapse and fragmentation, a leading British think-tank said on Thursday.
i read that Chatham House also said there was not one civil war in Iraq, but “several civil wars” between rival communities, and accused Iraq’s main neighbors — Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — of having reasons “for seeing the instability there continue.”
“It can be argued that Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state which faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation,” I read in its report
“The Iraqi government is not able to exert authority evenly or effectively over the country. Across huge swathes of territory, it is largely irrelevant in terms of ordering social, economic and political life.”
I also read in the repoert that a U.S.-backed security crackdown in Baghdad launched in February has failed to reduce overall violence across the country, as insurgent groups have just shifted their activities outside the capital.
While cautioning that Iraq might not ultimately exist as a united entity, the 12-page report said a draft law to distribute Iraq’s oil wealth equitably among Sunni Arabs, Shi’ites and ethnic Kurds was “the key to ensuring Iraq’s survival.”
i read about the carbohydrate-law as an oil law and that “It will be oil revenue that keeps the state together rather than any attempt to build a coherent national project in the short term.”
The oil law, I read, has yet to be approved by parliament. Ethnic Kurds, whose autonomous Kurdistan region holds large unproven reserves, oppose not just annexes, as Crocker said, but the draft’s wording itself.
Rather that one civil war pitting majority Shi’ites against Sunnis nationwide, the paper said Iraq’s “cross-cutting conflicts” were driven by power struggles between sectarian, ethnic and tribal groups with differing regional, political and ideological goals as they compete for the country’s resources.
I read that the author of the report, Middle East expert Gareth Stansfield, said instability in Iraq was “not necessarily contrary to the interests” of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
“(Iraq) is now a theatre in which Iran can ‘fight’ the U.S. without doing so openly,” Stansfield said, adding that Iran was the “most capable foreign power” in Iraq in terms of influencing future events, more so than the United States.
I read, as before, that the rise to power of Iraq’s long-oppressed Shi’ite majority has caused concern in Sunni Gulf states, particularly Saudi Arabia, which deeply distrusts non-Arab, Shi’ite Iran’s influence in Iraq.
Should a U.S. withdrawal herald the beginning of a full-scale Sunni-Shi’ite civil war in Iraq, Saudi Arabia “might not stand by,” I read Stansfield, “with the possibility of Iran and Saudi Arabia fighting each other through proxies in Iraq”.