Monday, May 14, 2007

The Iraqi Islamic Party Factor

For uruknet, Robert Dreyfuss writes:
Last week, Tariq al-Hashemi, the leader of the Sunni Islamists in parliament, threatened to leave the government (where he serves as vice president) and pull his followers out of Maliki's coalition. During Dick Cheney's visit to Iraq, the VP met twice with Hashemi, and now comes word that Maliki has agreed to bring Hashemi's Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) closer into the fold. Reports AP:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to give Sunnis a bigger role in security operations in their areas, lawmakers said Sunday, in a deal that staves off a threatened Sunni walkout that could have toppled the Shiite leader's embattled government.

The lawmakers said the deal was reached in talks last week between al-Maliki and Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who had threatened to withdraw his bloc from the government if Sunni demands were not met. His bloc controls 44 of the 275 parliament seats.

Under the terms, al-Hashemi will have an "executive role" in the fight against insurgents in Sunni areas inside and outside the capital of Baghdad, the lawmakers said. Al-Maliki remains the armed forces' commander in chief, they said.

The thing is, the IIP ha always been the Sunni bloc's chief collaborator with the U.S. occupation and its Shiite-Kurdish majority, going back more than three years. Placating Hashemi by giving him some undefined "executive role" in fighting the (Sunni-led) insurgency isn't going t make things better in Iraq. All it does is set up Hashemi's party for more isolation from the rest of the Sunni bloc -- the National Dialogue Front of Saleh Mutlaq, the Association of Muslim Scholars, and, of course, the insurgents themselves. It shows that Cheney et al. are committed to propping up Maliki at all costs.