That Didn’t Take Long

U.S. troops have been out of Iraq for what, less than a day now?

Iraq issues arrest warrant for vice president Hashemi

Iraq has issued an arrest warrant for Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, a senior security official said on Monday, after the government obtained confessions linking him to what the official described as terrorist activities.

Interior Ministry spokesman, Major General Adel Daham, told a news conference that confessions by suspects identified as Hashemi’s bodyguards linked the vice president to suspected killings and attacks.

See also:
Iraq issues arrest warrant for Tareq al-Hashemi
Iraq issues arrest warrant for Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi
Iraq in political turmoil hours after last US troops depart
Iraq: left to the wolves
Arrest warrant for Vice President Hashemi sparks political turmoil in Iraq
VP arrest warrant plunges Iraq into crisis
Iraq faces political crisis as the arrest warrant to Sunni VP al-Hashemi
Sunni, Shi’ite conflict grows in Iraq
Iraq Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi denies charge
Evading arrest, Iraqi VP denies hit squad claim
Iraq Vice-President denies he ran hit squad
Iraq’s Sunni vice President Tareq al-Hashemi warns sectarian divisions reopened
Iraq vice-president declares unity efforts ‘gone’
Iraq slaps travel ban on Sunni vice-president
Iraqi Sunni leaders denounce PM Maliki
U.S. “obviously concerned” about Iraqi Hashemi probe
Fugitive Iraq Sunni V.P. Tariq al-Hashimi Criticizes U.S.

It’s painfully clear what’s going on here. With the U.S. military now out of the way, the Shia led Iraqi government, backed by Iran, is wasting no time flexing its muscle and settling old scores against the Iraqi Sunni minority. Can you say looming civil war?

/and now we’ve pretty much given up our ability to effectively intervene militarily in Iraq, leaving Iran as the only regional military power capable of “riding to the rescue” of the Iraqi government, who just happen to be Iranian puppets anyway

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The Return Of Mookie

So, we bust our military ass in Iraq, to the tune of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, just to watch U.S. troop killing freak Moqtada al-Sadr waltz back into Iraq, to a hero’s welcome, after four years of hiding in Iran to avoid an arrest warrant, as part of the Iraqi government? Who won the Iraq war anyway, Iran?

Radical cleric al-Sadr returns to Iraq

A radical anti-American cleric whose supporters once led armed uprisings against U.S. forces in Iraq has returned to the country after spending time in Iran.
The return of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr comes as Iraq’s new government is just getting its footing and at a time when U.S. forces are preparing to withdraw from the country.

. . .

Ryan Crocker, a former ambassador to Iraq and now at Texas A&M University, said al-Sadr would not be in a position to return to violence. Al-Sadr once controlled a militia of thousands that challenged the authority of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki but wound up being beaten down by Iraqi and U.S. forces.

“I assume he is not going back to start standing up militias,” Crocker said. “If he does, he’s not going to last very long.” Crocker said al-Maliki would not allow it.

Al-Sadr received a hero’s welcome in his hometown of Najaf, where he visited the shrine of Imam Ali. It is not clear whether al-Sadr is planning on staying in Iraq. “To say the least, he is a mercurial personality,” Crocker said.

Al-Sadr is returning to Iraq as the Iraqi government will confront some key issues about continued U.S. presence in Iraq. All U.S. forces will have left Iraq by the end of this year under the terms of a security agreement between the two countries.

See also:
Shiite firebrand returns from exile with a victory lap
Anti-US Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr Returns to Iraq
Al-Sadr makes low-key return to Iraq
Iraq’s al-Sadr Urges Calm From Supporters
In Iraq, apprehension ahead of speech by Sadr
Model security shows mainstream move of Iraq’s Sadr
Cleric Moqtada Al Sadr returns to Iraq
Return Of Iraq’s Prodigal Son?
Family wants Moqtada Sadr arrested
Scenarios: What’s next for Iraq after Sadr’s comeback?

I’m stunned, everyone’s just going to sit back and let this illiterate, criminal Iranian puppet return to Iraq and join the Iraqi government, after all the people he’s killed? Unbelievable!

/will no one blow this evil [expletive deleted] up or put a bullet in his head?

It’s Allawi By A Nose

Allawi wins thin plurality in Iraq election

A secular Shiite, Ayad Allawi, has won a narrow plurality in Iraq’s national election, but it is a religious Shia party that will likely determine if he’ll form a government.

Mr. Allawi’s Iraqiya party took 91 of the 325 seats in Iraq’s Council of Representatives, electoral officials declared yesterday, 19 days after 12 million Iraqis went to the polls.

The current Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, whose party won 89 seats, immediately announced he would not accept the results and called for a recount.

But it is the third-place Iraqi National Alliance (INA), a coalition dominated by two religious Shia parties, that is in the driver’s seat.

With 163 members needed to form a majority, the result means that unless Mr. Allawi and Mr. Maliki join forces – which is highly unlikely, since they despise one other – the only way either man can likely form a government is with the support of the INA. Any coalition formed without it would be too fragmented and give undue clout to smaller parties.

Mr. Maliki, leader of the Shia religious Dawa party, would seem a natural partner for the INA, the product of a union between the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, led by Ammar al-Hakim, and the Sadrist followers of Muqtada al-Sadr. All three parties are pro-Iranian.

But two things stand in the way of such a coalition. The Sadrists want no part of a government led by Mr. Maliki, the man who crushed the Sadrist militia in Basra and Baghdad, while Mr. Hakim professes to have learned his lesson in last year’s provincial election that it is more important to emphasize broad national interests than narrow sectarian ones.

Indeed, it was the 2005 coalition government of these three elements, along with major Kurdish parties, that contributed to the country’s bloody sectarian conflict and the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis.

Nevertheless, many Iraq watchers believe that Iran would still prefer to see these three Shia parties hook up again. That was reportedly Tehran’s view last summer when the three considered a union, but it was Mr. Maliki who turned his back on the idea, preferring to go it alone with his State of Law bloc. Now it’s Mr. Maliki who needs allies.

New life was breathed into the idea of a reunion of the pro-Iranian groups by a Supreme Court decision handed down this week. The court held that the stipulation in the constitution that the bloc with the largest number of seats gets the first chance to form a government is not limited to a bloc that ran in the election. It also could mean a group of parties formed after the vote. In other words, a quickly formed coalition of the three Shia religious parties could claim the right to try to form the next government.

For his part, Mr. Allawi, who served as the first, provisional prime minister in 2004, can argue that such a coalition will only stoke the fires of sectarianism, something that most Iraqis want to avoid.

Indeed, Mr. Allawi’s success is testament to that. A secular Shiite, he ran in partnership with several Sunni political figures determined to get a share of power. Mr. Allawi polled well in Sunni districts but, as Iraq-watcher Reidar Visser observed last night, his victory was more than just about his appeal across the sectarian divide.

“By winning more seats than expected south of Baghdad [where Shiites predominate], and almost as many seats as Maliki in [religiously mixed] Baghdad, Allawi has proved that he is more than ‘the candidate of the Sunnis’,” Mr. Visser wrote on his highly regarded historiae.org website.

With the support of the INA’s 70 members, plus a handful of others, Mr. Allawi could form a government. While some analysts, such as Mr. Visser, caution that uniting Iraqiya with the INA could “mean another oversized, ineffective government populated by parties with little in common,” not everyone agrees. Sheik Jalal Eddin al-Saghir, the INA’s most senior council member, says he has tried to get Mr. Allawi to join their alliance in the past.

“We can work with him,” said Sheik al-Saghir, imam of Baghdad’s most important Shia mosque.

Some of Mr. Allawi’s Sunni partners may have trouble working with the INA, however.

It was the INA that launched an anti-Baathist campaign that prevented several Sunni politicians from running in the election. Many of those blocked from running hailed from Iraqiya. They argue that they hold no brief for the memory of Saddam Hussein and left the Baath party long ago. Their history, they say, should not bar them from political office.

These same Iraqiya politicians may also have a difficult time teaming up with some of Iraq’s Kurdish political leaders. Prominent in Mr. Allawi’s party is a group of arch-nationalists who are determined to prevent the Kurds from claiming territory in and around the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk that lie between the Kurds’ northern heartland and Sunni Arab population centres.

Indeed, the first move in the game of coalition-building may well be an attempt by the major Kurdish leaders to team up themselves with the INA. Both groups share a preference for Canadian-style decentralized federalism and together could parley their combined force into concessions from either Mr. Allawi or Mr. Maliki.

See also:
Alliance led by ex-Iraqi PM wins election narrowly
Reports: Former Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi wins most seats in Iraqi parliament
Allawi wins narrow victory in Iraqi vote
Secular bloc wins most seats in Iraq
Preliminary results show Allawi wins most seats in Iraq election
Iraq Election Results Give Allawi Group Largest Bloc (Update3)
Secular challenger hails Iraq election victory
Secularist former leader Allawi wins Iraq vote
Allawi wins Iraqi election; al-Maliki rejects results
Maliki seeks recount in Iraq elections
Poll body rejects Iraq recount call
Iraq’s Allawi ‘open to talks’ over new government
Allawi pledges to work with rivals as Iraq election result declared
Iraq’s Allawi extends hand to rival
Iraq’s Allawi says open to all in coalition talks
Iraq election front-runners court possible allies
After Win, Will Former U.S. Front Man Rule in Iraq?
Ayad Allawi, once seen as a U.S. puppet, returns to the center of Iraqi politics
Allawi Wins and the Media Misses the Significance
Analysis: Allawi win could curb Iran’s influence
In Iraq’s election, a defeat for Iran

Although the margin is razor thin and the election dust is far from settled, this is arguably a victory for the United States and a defeat for Iran, since Allawi is a pro-West secular candidate, whereas al-Maliki is a pro-Iran religious candidate. Hell, the fact that this election unfolded as smoothly as it did is, in and of itself, a victory for the United States. Iraq sure has come a long way since 2003.

/now, let the coalition wrangling begin!

What Does A Persian Have To Do To Get An Ass Kicking Around Here?

Iranians accused of seizing Iraq oil field

Iraq was last night seeking a diplomatic solution to what it said was an incursion of Iranian troops who crossed into its territory and occupied an oilfield on Thursday night.

The incursion, which Iran denies, raised the spectre of another confrontation between the two neighbours who fought a war from 1980 till 1988, partly caused by Iraqi claims of Iranian trespassing. Yesterday Iraq demanded that the troops withdraw, but after an emergency meeting of its national security council it said the two countries have begun negotiations to resolve it.

Since the last PoWs were exchanged in 2003, the Iraqi government, now headed by Nouri al-Maliki, has generally enjoyed good relations with Tehran. But the Iranian regime has been watching with keen interest the award of massive oil contracts across the border, and the incursion is seen as a strategic step to establish its claim in a disputed border area which is also rich in petroleum potential.

The Baghdad officials say the Iranians have “trespassed” into the al-Fakkah oilfield, one of the largest in the region, which straddles the border between the two countries, three times in the last month. But this time, they are said to have pulled down the Iraqi flag and raised their own.

Both countries claim that the No 4 well, the most productive in the field, belongs to them. “As well as the flag, they have also dug a trench around the oil well and deployed armoured cars,” said Brigadier-General Dhafir Nadhmi of the Iraqi army. “They have taken control of the field. We are waiting for orders from our government.”

In Baghdad, Mr Maliki called on fellow Iraqis to remain calm and insisted his government would not resort to military action at this point. But he also convened an emergency meeting of the country’s National Security Council, and additional units of border security guards were moved forward towards the oilfield.

In Tehran, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency later quoted the National Iranian Oil Company, saying: “The company denies Iranian soldiers taking control of any oil well inside Iraqi territory.” But Iraq’s deputy foreign minister, Mohammed Haj Mahmoud, said: “This move by the Iranians took place at around 3.30pm. We are co-ordinating with the Oil Ministry on this. This is not the first time that the Iranians have tried to prevent Iraq from investing in oilfields in border areas. We might summon the Iranian ambassador to discuss this issue.”

The Iranian action led to oil prices rising on the international markets. In Washington the State Department said that although the Iranians have crossed the border before, they had never ventured this far forward, and the move was a “matter of concern”. No American troops are in the area.

See also:
Iraq says Iranian troops seize oil well near border
Iraq-Iran in oilfield dispute
US: Iraq not ‘pushed around’ by Iran
Iran seizes oil well in Iraq near border
Iran: Oil field is ours, not Iraq’s
Iran Claims an Oil Field It Seized
Iran acknowledges oil well takeover
Iraqis say oil well still being held; Iran denies claims
Iranian Forces Occupy Iraqi Fekka Oilfield, Iraqi Government Demands Iranian Withdrawal
Iraq official confirms Iran incursion in oil area

Gee, Iran causing international trouble, imagine that. How much more of this [expletive deleted] are we going to tolerate?

/I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, regime change in Iran would solve 80% of the world’s problems overnight