Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Iraq Genocidal War to Continue Despite Predictions of More Death and Destruction

Iraq conflict ‘set to deteriorate’

By Edward Luce in Washington
Last updated: November 29 2006 20:59

The conflict in Iraq is likely to significantly deteriorate over the next few months regardless of which combination of options the Bush administration chooses to exercise, according to a report released by a leading Washington think tank on Wednesday.

The report – Options for Iraq: The Amost Good, the Bad and the Ugly – dismisses as “dishonest” the Bush administration’s claims to have readied more than 100 Iraqi military units for combat, pointing out that the true number was probably less than a third of the Pentagon’s estimate.

It also takes strong issue with the notion that Washington can simply pressure Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, to push harder for conciliation between Iraq’s clashing sectarian groups. It disputes the growing consensus in Washington that the US should pressure the Maliki government to close down the sectarian militias and forge a reconciliation with the Sunni Arab groups by threatening to withdraw US forces.

“It is not meaningful to blame Iraq for the problems that exist – these are mistakes that we made in nation-building,” said Anthony Cordesman, author of the report and one of the most influential analysts of the Iraq conflict, at the Centre for Strategic International Studies.

“When you send a bull into liberate a china shop, to blame the china shop for the broken china seems disingenuous, if not misleading.”

The report says that the only way the US can hope to stabilise Iraq is by coming clean with the American public about the long-term costs, risks and patience that would be entailed in achieving that goal. And it urges the Bush administration to listen both to the Iraqi government and America’s allies in the Middle East and Europe, rather than continue to treat “26 million Iraqis as white rats” in an experiment of transplanting democracy.

But Mr Cordesman was also sceptical about alternative plans in circulation, including options for a time-linked “phased” withdrawal of US troops, another to put up to 30,000 more troops into Iraq into order to re-attempt a stabilisation of Baghdad despite earlier failures, and a more controversial plan to partition Iraq into Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite entities.

He said there were no “silver bullets” to unravel the increasingly dangerous situation in Iraq but the US could at least try to prevent the Iraq war from spiraling into a broader regional conflict.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006

New meeting set for Iraqi PM and Bush

By Sharmila Devi in Amman, Guy Dinmore in Washington and Roula Khalaf in London

Last updated: November 29 2006 23:21

More US and Iraqi troops are to be deployed in Baghdad, US commanders said on Wednesday, in an effort to shore up the weakened Iraqi prime minister as he prepares to meet George W. Bush in Amman on Thursday.

Officials insisted that Nouri al-Maliki – who is weakened by mounting disaffection in Washington while his own government fragments – and the US president would hold long talks on Thursday morning even though a three-way summit with Jordan’s King Abdullah was called off on Wednesday night.

A senior US official denied that Mr Maliki had snubbed the president following the leak to the New York Times of a memo written by Stephen Hadley, national security adviser, who expressed strong doubts about the Iraqi prime minister’s intentions and ability to control sectarian violence.

One of Mr Hadley’s main recommendations in his November 8 memo was that Mr Maliki should shake up his cabinet by appointing technocrats and end his “political strategy” with Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical cleric whose militia are accused of violence against Sunni Arabs.

Mr Maliki left a political storm behind him at home. Shia lawmakers and cabinet ministers led by Mr al-Sadr suspended their participation in government institutions in protest at the summit. The boycott by the five Sadrist ministers and 30 lawmakers may not cause lasting damage but it piles the pressure on Mr Maliki.

Iraqi officials say the prime minister is looking for a faster handover of security to Iraqis and discussion on an agreement to regulate the presence of the 160,000-strong multinational forces.

In Washington, General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said all ideas were under review but meanwhile General George Casey, commander of US forces in Iraq, had decided to send two battalions – about 1,200 troops – to the capital.

Gen Pace expressed his support for sending more Iraqi forces to Baghdad. He said the Iraqi and US political leadership was discussing where they should be drawn from and what “cultural flavour” – Shia or Sunni – the units should have in their deployment.

US officials played down suggestions of US displeasure with Mr Maliki, as the consequences of the leaked memo reverberated around their capitals.

Abdelaziz al-Hakim, one of Mr Maliki’s main Shia rivals and a coalition partner, has been invited by the White House to Washington next week.

Separately, Mr Bush, dining on Wednesday night with King Abdullah, ruled out US engagement with Syria at this moment, a US official said.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006

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