ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, December 3, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 27
Columns - Issue of the week

When the king without a crown meets the emperor without clothes
By Ameen Izzadeen
Maliki in Arabic means king or sovereign. But in Iraq its Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is all but sovereign. Oh, I am sorry. How can a prime minister be sovereign in a democracy? After all, thanks to the George W. Bush administration's invasion, Iraq is now a democracy where the people are sovereign.

Bush (R) telling the media in Amman that Maliki is the “right guy” for the job. AFP

But the Iraqi people have no say in the day-to-day affairs of their country, though they went to the poll early this year, thinking that democracy would herald utopia. They stand betrayed today as their sovereignty remains expropriated by the United States.
Maliki, a king without a crown, went to Amman, the capital of pro-US Jordan on Thursday, to plead with Bush, the emperor without clothes, that the democratically-elected Iraqi government be given some of its powers back so that it could have a say over its military.

At present, Iraq's military is being commanded largely by the United States. Yet Bush had the audacity to describe Maliki as the leader of a "sovereign government," although it is nothing but a puppet regime of the United States. Maliki himself became the Prime Minister because the United States did not like his predecessor Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who resisted US military operations against the Shiite militia. The same allegation is now levelled against Maliki.

After his meeting with Bush, Maliki said he believed if steps were taken to strengthen Iraqi troops, the government could take measures necessary to bring order into chaos that has come to symbolize Iraq today. "I can say that Iraqi forces will be ready, fully ready, to receive this command and to command its own forces, and I can tell you that by next June our forces will be ready," Maliki said.

Days before the Amman meeting between Bush and Maliki on Thursday, the US media published a leaked White House memo where Maliki was described as an ineffective leader unable to carry forward the American agenda. The meeting was originally scheduled to take place on Wednesday, but put off for Thursday, because Maliki did not want to earn the wrath of the radical Shiite leader, Moqtada al-Sadr who had warned that he would reconsider his group's support for the government if Maliki met Bush. Maliki did not come to Amman on Wednesday for another reason.

He apparently wanted to show his displeasure at the White House memo where Bush's National Security Advisor Stephen Hardly had noted that Maliki was either incompetent or dishonest because of his opposition to a military assault on the Mahdi army, the militia controlled by al-Sadr, who, according to the latest Newsweek magazine, is the most dangerous man in Iraq. Dangerous, of course, for the Americans, not for the poor Shiites of Baghdad. He is the only Shiite leader who openly calls for the US withdrawal and advocates a grand anti-US alliance, which will also incorporate Sunni groups, although a section of his Mahdi Army is unleashing terror on Sunni civilians in retaliation for al-Qaeda terror on Shiite civilians.

But after the meeting there was a lot of praise from Bush for Maliki. The magical meeting with Bush has transformed Maliki into an able leader. But the magician in the Iraq fairytale being written in blood is in no mood to leave Iraq. The James Baker-Lee Hamilton Iraq Study Group may recommend a troop withdrawal, but as far as Bush is concerned there won't be "a graceful exit" from Iraq.
According to media reports, the Iraq Study Group recommends that all US troops be withdrawn from Iraq by 2008. But Bush says until the job is done, there won't even be a partial withdrawal.

Didn't Bush come out with a "Mission Accomplished" statement in May 2003? He is now seeking Congressional approval for US$ 100 billion to wage his war on terror-a euphemism for the US war in Iraq where the only safe place is the heavily-guarded Green Zone in Baghdad.

The Democrats who now control both the houses of the US Congress are in a dilemma. If they refuse to authorize the money, they run the risk of being accused of not cooperating fully with the country's war on terror. So it appears that despite the Democrats' ride to victory on an anti-war platform, the Iraq war will go on, no matter how many Iraqis are killed.

Already a half a million Iraqis have died as a direct result of the US invasion. Probably, the killing will go on till there won't be any one in Iraq to be called an Iraqi. Probably, the ongoing sectarian violence will end up in dividing the country into three-one for the Shiites, one for the Kurds and one for the Sunnis.

The division of Iraq will certainly make Israel happy because the Zionists dream of the balkanization of Arab countries, although on Thursday Bush declared that "success in Iraq requires a united Iraq where democracy is preserved, the rule of law prevails, and minority rights are respected."

Now which country is not allowing a democratically-elected government to exercise its sovereign power? Bush may preach the Iraqis on the need to restore the rule of law, but his administration could violate international laws on human rights with impunity, authorize torture and legalize measures that erode civil liberties of the American people.

Besides, Iraq has been plunged into chaos and sectarian strife and turned into a haven for al-Qaeda only after the US invaded Iraq. But chaos and civil war are necessary evils for the Bush administration to achieve its main objective of seizing control of Iraq's oil wealth and setting up the United State's biggest militarily base in Iraq so that it could not only dominate West Asia but also Central Asia, another oil and gas rich region.

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