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 Dominoes Strike Back

It’s Sunni versus Shia as Bahrain’s Suuni rulers have had just about enough of their Shia population’s ongoing uprising and have called on their fellow Sunnis, the Saudis, to help put down the Shia revolt.

Saudi Arabian troops enter Bahrain as regime asks for help to quell uprising

Saudi Arabian troops have crossed into Bahrain after the tiny Gulf kingdom’s ruling family asked for help from neighbouring Sunni Arab states to quell a two-month uprising which threatens their 200-year-old dynasty.

The Saudi capital, Riyadh, said that it had responded to a “security threat” by deploying its troops on the streets of its neighbour. They are to protect strategic sites such as bridges and government buildings. Bahrain’s rulers said the Saudi forces crossed the 16-mile causeway from Saudi Arabia to the island, together a contingent of troops from the Gulf Co-operation Council. Saudi authorities did not give details of the force; some reports estimate it to be 1,000.

Bahrain’s Shia majority has laid siege to the centre of the capital, Manama, since mid-February and has, in recent days, marched on government buildings and palaces.

See also:
GCC Troops Arrive in Bahrain
Saudis send troops into Bahrain to quell protests
Kingdom takes lead to help Bahrain
Thousands of Saudi troops cross into Bahrain after weekend of violence
Foreign troops enter Bahrain as protests continue
Gulf troops enter Bahrain as protests escalate
Saudi Arabia sends troops to troubled Bahrain
Saudi soldiers sent into Bahrain
Saudi troops enter Bahrain
Gulf military force enters Bahrain to help deal with unrest
Gulf security forces enter Bahrain, protests escalate
Next Mideast Flashpoint: Saudis Enter Bahrain
US says told, not consulted, on Saudi Bahrain force
Clinton Expresses ‘Deep Concern’ About Bahrain – US Official
U.S., U.N. urge restraint as forces enter Bahrain to control protests
Iran urges Bahrain to prevent “foreign interference”
‘Saudi intervention is a declaration of war’

Make no mistake about it, the Shia uprising in Bahrain and all the Shia unrest throughout the region is being directly instigated by Iran and her agents.

/if this turmoil somehow escalates into a direct confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia, hopefully the Obama/Hillary foreign policy clown posse can keep track of which side the United States’ bread is buttered on

Lebanon Circling The Drain

About to be blamed by a U.N.-backed tribunal for the 2005 assasination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Hezbollah makes its move.

Lebanon Govt Collapses As 11 Ministers Quit

Lebanon’s Government has collapsed after Hezbollah ministers and their allies resigned from the Coalition.

Adnan Sayyed Hussein’s departure followed the resignation of 10 other ministers, a move which has effectively ended the government’s power-sharing agreement.

Without a stable government in place, fears are growing that the country could fall into a prolonged political crisis and could heighten sectarian tension in the region.

Dominc Waghorn, Sky News Middle East Correspondent, said the dispute was “complicated”, but stemmed from the killing of the country’s former Prime Minister in a car bomb explosion in 2005

See also:
Lebanon government fails as Hezbollah allies quit
Hezbollah exit from Lebanon government carefully planned
U.S. Ally Faces Fight in Lebanon
Eleventh minister resigns, toppling Lebanon government
Arab League ‘disturbed’ by Lebanon govt collapse
Israel Warns Hezbollah Against Any Spillover of Violence from Lebanese Crisis
US Government “closely monitoring” situation in Lebanon
Collapse of Lebanese Government Creates Worries of Deepening Crisis
Israeli troops go on alert amid Lebanon’s political turmoil
Israel troops on alert after Lebanon govt falls
Political crisis shakes Lebanon
Talks on new govt in Lebanon to start Monday

So, what will happen next, will Lebanon descend into sectarian violence or civil war? Hezbollah obviously planned this, no doubt with the blessing of or at the urging of Iran and Syria, what’s their endgame, I mean besides wiping Israel off the map?

/whatever happens, chances are that the outcome won’t be particularly pleasant

Ahmadinejad Checks In, But Will He Check Out?

It’s bad enough when Mr. Evil Incarnate spouts his Jew hatred in his own country, but when he takes his anti-Israel spew show on the road to Lebanon and pals around with Hezbollah, he’s pushing his luck. If Ahmadinejad actually heads for the border and tries to throw rocks into Israel, all bets are off.

Ahmadinejad: Lebanon a school of Jihad

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is on a two-day visit to Lebanon, spoke before a mass rally organized in is honor by Hezbollah at the Dahiya quarter of Beirut, which is considered one of the Shiite group’s strongholds.

Wednesday’s rally, which saw masses gather at a local soccer field, waving Iranian flags and chanted “Welcome” in Persian, was missing Hezbollah Chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who welcomed Ahmadinejad to Lebanon via a video feed from his bunker: “I welcome you here on behalf of the injured, the dead, the released prisoners and this people, who have fought to create the miracle of victory. You are a steadfast staff for the resistance.”

“I come from the land of the Imam Khomeini, bearing the best wishes of the Iranian people and its leaders,” Ahmadinejad told the masses. “Lebanon is the an example and school for unwavering resistance to the world’s tyrants and a university for Jihad. Visiting Lebanon and meeting the leaders is a dream come true for me.”

Ahmadinejad spoke in Persian and used an interpreter.

The Iranian leader wasted no time in attacking Israel for violating the Palestinians’ rights: “Do you see anything but crimes in the past actions of the Zionist regime? The massacre of innocent people, the use of weapons, razing homes, confiscating medicine, food and water, attacking civilians in international waters and threatening the world is an everyday occurrence for them.”

The West, he added, considers Israel “means of dominating the world,” and to that end it has given it nuclear weapons.

‘Israel’s weakness exposed’

Turning his attention to the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, the Iranian president said the two military campaigns “exposed Israel’s weakness… it is also possible that those barbaric Zionists will seek a new regional adventure to try and compensate. I say – any attack will only bring this phony regime closer to its end.”

Eldad: IDF should kill Ahmadinejad if he throws stones

MK Arye Eldad (National Union) said on Wednesday that the IDF should kill Ahmadinejad if he visits Lebanon’s border with Israel.

“The history of man-kind would be different if in 1939 somehow, a Jewish soldier had succeeded to kill Hitler,” Eldad said.

He continued, “If even for one moment, Ahmadinejad is in the IDF’s sights on the day that he comes to throw stones at us, he cannot be allowed to return home alive.”

“The State of Israel was established so that the Jewish people can be responsible for their own destiny,” Eldad said.

See also:
Iran’s Ahmadinejad receives rapturous welcome in Lebanon
Iranian Leader’s Visit Raises Tensions In Lebanon
Ahmadinejad visit stirs up Lebanon’s perennially volatile politics
Ahmadinejad’s visit to Lebanon stirs tensions
Lebanese Opinions Differ on Ahmadinejad’s VisitIranian leader visits Lebanon
Ahmadinejad receives warm welcome in Beirut
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad receives hero’s welcome in Lebanon
Ahmadinejad ‘proud’ to be among brothers as he arrives in Beirut
Ahmadinejad arrives to fanfare of rose petals in Beirut’s southern suburbs
U.S.: We suspect Iran doesn’t have Lebanon’s interest at heart
US: Ahmadinejad visit to Lebanon is “provocative”
Ahmadinejad hails Lebanon resistance in face of Israel
ISRAEL: Iranians at the gates — what to do?
Ahmadinejad vows to Hezbollah that U.S., Israeli power will be eclipsed
Ahmadinejad plays Lebanon card, plans to throw a stone at Israel
Far-right MK: Assassinating Ahmadinejad today is like assassinating Hitler in 1939
MK Eldad: Ahmadinejad should not return home alive
Israeli MP Calls for Liquidating Ahmadinejad … Netanyahu’s Deputy: We Don’t Kill Presidents

Israel doesn’t actually have to assassinate Ahmadinejad, he’s going to be hanging out with Hezbollah all day and touring their explosives laden camps, tempting fate. Hey, Hezbollah weapons caches have been known to “accidental” blow up before, so it’s far from out of the realm of possibility. You’ll notice that Nasrallah isn’t stupid, he never leaves his bunker, because he knows what will happen if he does.

/in any case, tomorrow should be interesting, do not taunt happy IDF fun ball

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!