Thursday, June 21, 2007

Maliki government looking more shaky

Samarra bombing leads to top resignation, again bringing its viability into question.

Iraqi Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi, a senior Shiite politician often mentioned as a potential prime minister, tendered his resignation last week in a move that reflects deepening frustration inside the Iraqi government with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Other senior Iraqi officials have considered resigning in recent weeks over the failures of their government to make progress after more than a year in power, according to Iraqi and U.S. officials.

Abdul Mahdi said he was provoked by the second bombing of the Shiite shrine in Samarra on June 13, in which he said corrupt police abetted Sunni insurgents. “The two minarets were as important to us as September 11, and we should be accountable to the people,” Abdul Mahdi said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “We should be doing more to move in a positive direction — on corruption, accountability and defending the important sites.” …

Maliki’s political benefactor, radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, has again withdrawn his followers in parliament in the wake of the Samarra bombing. The leader of Sadr’s legislative bloc, Nasar al-Rubaie, said that “the Maliki government will surely collapse if the situation continues as it is right now.”

I don’t think it’s a question of “if” the center can hold any more, but “how long.”

From the BushCo point of view, Maliki continues to dilly-dally on things like the draft oil law. Now, he’s president, not a prime minister, but especially with his veep just resigning, don’t doubt that Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Ambassador Ryan Crocker aren’t sniffing around for some way to not only fill Mahdi’s vacancy but “lean on” Maliki at the same time — or perhaps even trying to run the table with a “two-fer.”

Cross-posted at Socratic Gadfly and Watching Those We Choose.