Tales from the rift
With its appearance in the notorious Torygraph, the tale of the rift between Iraq's Prime Minister Maliki and General Petraeus carries the heavy suspicion of propaganda. After reading it, though, I can't quite see that angle to it. It certainly doesn't help Bush, who supports both men, despite Maliki calling for Petreaus to be replaced.
Relations between the top United States general in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki, the country's prime minister, are so bad that the Iraqi leader made a direct appeal for his removal to President George W Bush.I'm still amazed at the harping about Iranian influence in the Iraqi government. The Bush administration hand-picked Allawi and Maliki, knowing full well their long established ties to Tehran. How dare those Iranian-friendly politicians get all friendly with the Iranians!
Although the call was rejected, aides to both men admit that Mr Maliki and Gen David Petraeus engage in frequent stand-up shouting matches, differing particularly over the US general's moves to arm Sunni tribesmen to fight al-Qa'eda.
One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general's signature strategy to be scrapped. "He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias," said the official. "Bush told Maliki to calm down."
President Bush's support for Mr Maliki is deeply controversial within the US government because of the Iraqi's ties to Shia militias responsible for some of the worst sectarian violence.
The White House watched as the Maliki government, with the help of the Pentagon, trained death squads to function within Iraq security forces that were meant to target the Sunni insurgency. And now, after sectarian violence escalated, the Bush administration is beside itself that the death squads they trained are doing exactly what they were trained to do. Bush blames "Shia militias," when the entire Iraq security force is a Shia militia or at least comprises several of them. And Maliki threatens to "arm Shia militias," several of which are already well-armed thanks to the generous support of the Pentagon, in retaliation for the funding and arming of Sunni militias that the Pentagon has now thought to be its last best option.
On top of all the funding and counter-funding of insurgents and counter-insurgents, the Bush administration is pledging to ship Sunni-led Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States $20 billion in arms to counteract growing Iranian influence in the region, influence that is a direct result of US intervention in Iraq, both in removing the counter-balance that Hussein enforced against the Iranian mullahs and in picking and installing Iraqi exiles with close ties to Tehran.
All of this may look like the White House has no idea what it is doing. But one should always be circumspect when a group of what might normally be considered "smart people," continuously do the obviously wrong thing. Actually, I suspect the White House know exactly what they have been doing and will continue to do, which is the reason why the US will insist on remaining in Iraq for a long time, just as we have been promised.
Update: via Newshoggers and Small Wars Journal comes news that, as I pondered above, this suspected Telegraph story may be utter fiction. Of course, this claim comes from MNF-Iraq Public Affairs Office, which has also been a reliable source of fiction for sometime.
By the way, check out the handy dandy "Freedom Facts" box on the MNF-Iraq site.