A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Iraq: Bloodshed Amidst the Power Struggle

The death toll in this morning's coordinated bombings in Baghdad is at least 63, and coming as it has in the midst of the growing dispute between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, whom Maliki is trying to arrest for alleged murder plotting, it's worrying; I've been preoccupied with Egypt, but Iraq is simmering.. Hashimi is Sunni; Maliki Shi‘ite, so the sectarian aspects are obvious; if that weren't dangerous enough, the fact that Hashimi has taken refuge in Kurdistan adds to the explosiveness of the situation, with the potential for a confrontation between the central government and the Kurds,

This  is being portrayed by some of the talking heads as a dangerous power play by Maliki (and it is clearly risky), by others as a sign that the US shouldn't have left Iraq since the last boot was barely inside Kuwait when this erupted. But the US left because the elected Iraqi government would not sign a status of forces agreement; barring outright imperial occupation there wasn't much choice.

Juan Cole's take on the issue is more complex, seeing Iran, the MEK at Camp Ashraf, and Syria as all factors in the equation.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

We may see a vicious cycle as Sunnis, excluded from the genuine power sharing Maliki promised in order to form a government, resort to violence. In turn, Maliki will become even more authoritarian and sectarian. Unfortunately, there is growing evidence that he is still locked in Saddam era thinking, where he was part of an underground movement and learned to be suspicious of and uncooperative with those outside his circle. The democratic and pluralist need to form alliances is alien to his thinking.