Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Coup Or Hype?

Juan Cole has two excellent posts up today. One deals with the situation in Central Asia and all those bases the US is building there. You really should save a copy of that, better yet save it and print it. I want to address his other posting the one headed:

"Plot to Bomb Iraqi Gov't in Green Zone
Plan to Declare Islamic Emirate in Diyala
Saudis to Build Security Wall, Fear Civil war"


It's another keeper. So that's two I really strongly suggest you print and put into that ring binder of collected articles you keep, and if you don't keep one now's the time to start. Juan's posting is succinct and he asks all the right questions. I have a not entirely displeasing image of him sitting there snorting with disbelief as he read the various reports he linked to. It's what I did as I read them. Bless the man he's saved me a bunch of typing:

"That's the story. But I have questions. Severe questions. Isn't it odd that such a major plot was foiled by the arrest of seven or eight people? Wouldn't it have needed hundreds? Seven or eight people could have done some damage inside the Green Zone, but not really significant damage. So the rumours that it was a coup attempt make no sense given the scale of the arrests. Then the involvement of people so close to Dulaimi is very suspicious. Was this raid a shot across the bow of the Iraqi Accord Front, a slap on the wrist for having considered such a thing? (The US certainly listens to all Dulaimi's phone calls.) Does the US need the Sunni parliamentarians so much that they can largely overlook the involvement of their close associates in terrorist plots?

As for Diyala, it seems to be in the hands of the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement already. Why would it matter if the guerrilla leaders make this declaration? How could some arrests stop them from doing so? There is something hyped about this story, too, though the apparent acknowledgement that there is an Islamist Emirate in Diyala is welcome."

(The remainder of his posting provides some much needed context including that the Saudis have manifestly gone beyond being nervous about their survival prospects and are now downright worried. Like I say it's one to "cut out and keep.")

Composite of three photograph showing children wounded over the wekend
As usual children have suffered terribly during the violence. The top panel shows a baby injured in Baquba on the 28th. The boy in the bottom left was wounded today in a bombing in Baghdad. The girl to the right was injured in a shootout between gunmen and Iraqi police at Baquba's bus station today.

What's interesting to me at any rate is the angle that Juan didn't get a chance to cover in all that much detail - the political fallout.

Aswat al-Iraq [Arabic text] have a interesting piece on it. The story covers a press conference given by Baha' al-A'raji early today. He's part of the Sadrist wing of the UIA, is well connected, and is generally a fairly good indicator of what they're thinking. According to him al-Maliki's government almost toppled over the last two days:

"Al-Maliki's government has survived a coup planned by Saddamists and Islamic extremists who wanted to send a clear message to the Iraqi government of their presence in Iraq,"

Not unsurprisingly he took the opportunity to demand a reshuffle and threatened to withdraw his support if one wasn't forthcoming. The Sadrist Bloc is the largest in the Iraqi Parliament.

His attack was pretty blunt, and downright personal. He said outright that there was a crisis of confidence in, and within, the Maliki government. That the failure to supply fuel had worsened the crisis, that the government had completely failed to improve security. He added that some of al-Maliki's deputies were involved in extremism, that some were Saddamists and that one had been involved in a bombing plot. He went onto to discuss the arrest of Dulaimi's bodyguard on Friday and openly made thinly veiled accusations against Kurdish politicians.

It's worth noting where he laid the ultimate blame for the current situation in Iraq:

"What has led to the deterioration in Iraq is the national unity, democratic and national reconciliation government brought about by the Americans and which included among its members some Islamic extremists,"

Not a point you'll find in, for example, this Reuters Report you will however find the obligatory references to al-A'raji being "an outspoken senior Shi'ite deputy … … … whose affiliation is to the fiery Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr,"

Some day some reporter is going to point out that most successful politicians, and yes that includes al-Sadr, tend to be calculating rather than fiery and sub-editors the world over are going to drop like flies.

So a coup or Hype? Mostly hype, but only mostly. Al-Maliki as I've pointed out before is isolated by his American advisers, who control what information he gets to see and who he gets to meet. More to the point sooner or later some plotter is going to get lucky. They only have to get lucky once.


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