Friday, July 25, 2008

Reality Check

(Cross-posted from Lotus - Surviving a Dark Time.)

Okay, kiddies, it's time to set the Wayback Machine for January 2007. What was the purpose of The Surge(reg.)(c)(pat.pend.)?

While you're thinking about that, check of this from ABC News for Wednesday:

Iraq's presidential council on Wednesday rejected a draft provincial elections law and sent it back to parliament for reworking - a major blow to U.S. hopes that the vote can be held this year.

The decision was likely to delay the elections until next year because there would not be sufficient time to make the necessary preparations.
The law was pushed through Parliament the day before in the face of a walkout by Kurdish members angered over the imposition of a secret ballot on a provision for ethnic power-sharing in the disputed city of Kirkuk.

The rejection of the method was echoed by Deputy parliament speaker Khalid al-Attiyah, a Shiite, who called the secret ballot unconstitutional and accused lawmakers of "arm-twisting," saying it is "foolish and absurd to pass a law that has been rejected by an entire bloc."

Iraqi laws must be ratified by the presidential council, which by Iraq's constitution consists of one Shiite, one Sunni, and one Kurd. President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, and Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi, a Shiite, rejected the election plan. Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi was out of the country.

The issue of Kirkuk is a very sensitive one for the Kurds. It is now a multi-ethnic city but Kurds have long considered it part of their historical land - and as a center of Iraq's oil industry, control of it carries economic and political clout as well. Article 140 of the Constitution says the status of the city is to be decided by a referendum which was supposed to have taken place by the end of 2007. So I suppose it's easy to understand the Kurds' frustration at not only not having a referendum but by the attempt to have the matter decided by what amounts to unconstitutional parliamentary fiat, frustration which they made clear:
"We declare that the Kurdistan region is not bound by the results of this unconstitutional process," the Kurdish Regional Government, which oversees the three provinces in its semiautonomous territory, said in a statement.
I've discussed on more than one occasion how the area could be a flashpoint for ethnic conflict. Clearly, it remains such.

So in sum, the status of Kirkuk remains unresolved, the Kurds are walking out of parliamentary sessions, the process for regional elections is still deadlocked, and the Sunnis remain pretty much on the outside.

Now that you've had time to think about it, let's go back to the original question: What were we told was the purpose of The Surge(reg.)(c)(pat.pend.)? What's that? Did you say "to provide an opening for political reconciliation?" You are correct! Now for your bonus question: On its own terms, then, has The Surge(reg.)(c)(pat.pend.) worked? (Tick-tock, tick-tock....)

Footnote, Here's to Reconciliation Div.: The Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni party, has
denounced the shooting deaths of two relatives of a provincial governor Sunday during a U.S. raid north of Baghdad.

The U.S. military said two armed relatives of Salahuddin governor Hamad Hammoud were killed during a raid aimed at al-Qaida in Iraq elements in the city of Beiji. It said the slain men showed "hostile intent" and American troops fired in self-defense.
As they always do. But the IIP called the shootings unjustified and a "heinous crime" while denouncing what the group called "continued violations of the legal and judicial authority of the Iraqi government" by US forces.

Meanwhile, Middle East Online reports that in a separate incident, Iraqi police and US soldiers have given conflicting accounts of the shooting death of the son of the editor of a US-financed weekly paper.
"He lost control near the Bahrain bakery in southern Kirkuk... then they fired on him, killing him instantly," the police official said, adding that a friend riding next to [Arkan Ali al-]Nuaimi survived.

A US military spokesman, however, provided a different account of what appeared to be the same incident.

Major John Hall told AFP in an emailed response that a group of dismounted US soldiers was attacked with small arms fire from an approaching purple sedan.
And the soldiers fired, as they always do, in self-defense. As always.