Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Iraq's Premier Asserts His Right to Stay in Office

Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari during an interview in his office in the Green Zone in Baghdad. Christoph Bangert/Polaris, for The New York Times

I found this off of Americablog, so I decided to go back to the original source. The actual source of the story is from the New York Times:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 29 — Facing growing pressure from the Bush administration for him to step down, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari of Iraq vigorously asserted his right to stay in office today and warned the Americans against undue interference in Iraq's political process.

Mr. Jaafari also defended his recent political alliance with the radical anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, now the prime minister's most powerful backer, saying in an interview that Mr. Sadr and his thousands-strong militia were a fact of life in Iraq and need to be accepted into mainstream politics.

Mr. Jaafari said he would work to fold the country's myriad militias into the official security forces and ensure that recruits and top security ministers abandon their ethnic or sectarian loyalties.

The existence of militias has emerged as the greatest source of contention between American officials and Shiite leaders like Mr. Jaafari, with the American ambassador arguing in the past week that militias are killing more people than the Sunni Arab-led insurgency. Dozens of bodies, garroted or executed with gunshots to the head, turn up almost daily in Baghdad, fueling sectarian tensions that are pushing Iraq closer to full-scale civil war.

It appears that Jaafari has every intention to remain in office--regardless of what the Bush administration wants. And the Bush administration feels that they can control whatever "puppet government" they can create in Iraq. What we have here is a good old "clash of civilizations."

The problem here is that Bush is in a politically weak position. Jaafari was "elected" by the people of Iraq through both the parliamentary elections last December, which chose the political parties that make up the Parliament, and through the secret ballot process last month among the majority Shiite Party members in the Parliament, which chose Jaafari as the Iraqi prime minister. If Bush attempts to replace Jaafari with someone more accommodating towards the White House political line, this is only going to reinforce the perception among the Iraqi people that their US-imposed constitutional government is nothing more than a puppet to the US. This is only going to fuel greater violence in the Iraqi insurgency against the American occupation forces.

The best thing that President Bush can do is to stay out of the emerging Iraqi political process. Let the Iraqis form their own government, without Washington's interference. This is going to be a big problem for the Bush White House since the Bush neocons of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle and others want nothing more than to control and use Iraq as a springboard for imposing American political and military power throughout the Middle East. They want Iraq to be a puppet and do Washington's bidding. Jaafari doesn't want to deal in that way.

That's the clash we're heading towards.

No comments: