Thursday, October 19, 2006

That persistent coup rumor

Now, the rumor has made its way to the Washington Times:
Leaks from a U.S. task force headed by former Secretary of State James A. Baker III are contributing to the widespread sense that the Bush administration is preparing for a "course correction" in the coming months.

The options cited most frequently in Washington include the partition of Iraq into three ethnic- or faith-based regions, and a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops, with some remaining in neighboring countries to deal with major threats.

Another scenario is being discussed -- and taken seriously in Iraq -- by many of Iraq's leading political players, under which the U.S.-trained army would overthrow struggling Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and replace him with a strongman who would restore order while Washington looks the other way.

Falah Hassan al-Naqib, a Sunni politician who served as minister of the interior in the interim government led by Iyad Allawi until last year, told The Washington Times he has met repeatedly with American and Iraqi generals to discuss alternative courses of action.

"All of them have a 'Plan B,' because if the situation continues as it is, they will have to defend themselves -- not just find bodies all over," Mr. al-Naqib said this summer at his house in Baghdad.
Maliki made a trip to Najaf yesterday and met with Sistani and Sadr at different times. The Los Angeles Times:
But Maliki, who received fresh assurances of support from President Bush on Monday, dismissed speculation that he was in any danger of being pushed aside. "The Iraqi government … did not show up with the tanks," he told reporters. "It came by the will of the Iraqi people through the stations of democracy, elections and the constitution."

Maliki's handling of security, especially his seeming inability to rein in Shiite militias, has drawn suspicion from the country's Sunni Arab minority and has frustrated U.S. officials. The American military this week complied with Maliki's request to release a detained cleric who served in Sadr's anti-U.S. movement and is suspected of being a militia leader.

Maliki defended the release, saying the country was moving to find "political solutions" for the militia issue and to make certain "nobody is arrested unless he committed a real crime against Iraq and Iraqis."

With Sadr at his side during a second news appearance, Maliki also hinted that he was seeking ways to lessen the influence of militias such as Sadr's Al Mahdi army, which often polices Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad and southern cities. "We found a rejection of killing and holding weapons and support for the concept that the state provides security and protection for the citizens," he said.

Sadr called on Iraqis to avoid a sectarian "bloodbath," and warned the U.S. to stay out of Iraq's domestic affairs.
Can you actually have a coup in a country that retains the most powerful army in the world?

The political climate is most discouraging at this point. A coup by the Shiite dominated security forces (re-read this sentence a few times) would be a tough pill to swallow for all parties involved. It would be seen in a negative light by so many groups.

2 Comments:

Blogger Praguetwin said...

Can you actually have a coup in a country that retains the most powerful army in the world?

You can if that Army wants it to happen.

1:12 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

Yes, exactly. I wanted to refine this post but work was a huge distraction (the nerve!).

1:17 PM  

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