Saturday, July 28, 2007

Maliki and Petraeus: Not the Best of Friends

(Hat tip: Juan Cole).

In this article from the AP, we learn Maliki and Petraeus have an extremely cool, if not decidedly hostile relationship. Not to mention the Maliki-Crocker combo.

Consider the following:
A key aide says Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s relations with U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus are so poor the Iraqi leader may ask Washington the withdraw the well-regarded U.S. military leader from duty here.
If that happens, the rest of the Republicans bolt on Bush and blame the Iraqis.

On Petraeus' side the Iraqi army and police are infiltrated with Shia sectarian death squads and Maliki, who owes his position to them, is never (and I mean never) going to take them head on. Because he knows the Americans will be out and the "death squads" are the only force for protecting Shia communities.

On Maliki's side he still wants and does not have actual control of his country's own army. Maliki is also furious at the US arming of Sunni insurgents. Because again he knows those weapons are going to be used on his people and perhaps him personally. The American leadership is so clueless as to think they can integrate these Sunni groups into the regular Iraqi Army. Arming people for a coming fight. That is all.

On the Crocker end, Maliki is unable to get anything done on oil law (the oil minister has called oil unions in Iraq "illegitimate"--these groups oppose the drafted oil law as a giveaway to foreign companies), reversing de-Baathification (probably because he doesn't want them back in, Sadr doesn't, Sistani and SIIC oppose, and the Council is headed by our old friend Ahmad Chalabi who is as we know pro-Iranian, hence anti-Baathist), and all the other so-called political benchmarks.

The surge is going to work how?

And these intriguing possibility:

A lawmaker from the al-Sadr bloc, who refused use of his name fearing the party would expel him over his continued close ties to al-Maliki, said the prime minister has complained to U.S. President George W. Bush about the policy of arming Sunnis. “He told Bush that if Petraeus continues doing that he would arm Shiite Militias. Bush told al-Maliki to calm down,” according to the lawmaker who said he was told of the exchange by al-Maliki.

Of course that could be psych-ops on the part of the Sadrists or even Maliki.

What the Americans do not understand is these guys lived in exile from Hussein who had agents all over and was very adept at assassination in foreign countries. Or dirty deals to get opposition figures outside the country. In other words, men like Maliki are inherently conspiratorial, even paranoid, and honestly rightfully so.

Arming Sunnis to him means the return of Saddam. Period. He will see it no other way. The only response in that situation is to arm your own guys. If the Americans think they can isolate the Mahdi Army/Sadrist movement from Maliki by arming Sunnis, they are only driving them back together.


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