"We cannot continue asking our troops to sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is not making measurable progress," Domenici said. "I do not support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or a reduction in funding for our troops. But I do support a new strategy that will move our troops out of combat operations and on the path to coming home."
The White House had hoped that Republican lawmakers would stand back until a mid-September administration report on military and political progress in Iraq resulting from the president's troop-increase plan, which has boosted U.S. forces by tens of thousands. But Domenici said the signal to Bush should be clear: GOP patience is running out much more quickly.
While he's not calling for an immediate withdrawal Domenici wants most US combat troops out of Iraq within 9 months.
Yesterday, Domenici embraced a new legislative proposal to reshape U.S. policy around the 79 recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. In December, the bipartisan panel called for withdrawing most U.S. combat troops by March 31, 2008, although a limited number would remain in place for training and counterterrorism operations and other specific missions.
Once the US troops leave the Iraqis can finally fight their civil war to completion. Or we could try to partition the country into Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish zones and see if we can prevent them fighting across borders. Would the Sunnis accept a deal where they get to govern their own Sunni majority country? Would the Shias let them leave?
In theory the surge of US forces was done to give the Iraqis more time to work out political compromises between factions and to thereby greatly reduce inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic violence between rival factions. But democracy in Iraq isn't working in any way resembling what you'll learn from an American civics text book. Alissa Rubin of the New York Times outlines the extent to which even the elected representatives and cabinet members in Iraq refuse to govern or compromise.
At least 12 ministers from the 38-member cabinet are no longer attending cabinet meetings. There has been little progress on benchmark legislation, including oil revenue-sharing and a law to set a date for provincial elections.
Seventy-four members of Parliament are boycotting the 275-member body, which, when combined with the members who rarely attend anyway, means that Parliament often lacks a quorum and cannot do any official business.
More important than sheer numbers, however, is that even though one Sunni Arab party is considering compromise, the larger main bloc, Tawafiq, is still refusing to participate.
The Sunnis are not willing to accept minority status. They know their own choices are to dominate or to submit to dominance by the Shias. They don't want to accept the latter because they know just how shabbily they'll get treated and they do not trust the Shias.
Richard Oppel reports that A Sunni faction is outraged that one of its cabinet members stands accused trying to get another politician killed. (these audacious Shias never would have gotten away with accusing Sunnis of bumping them off in the old glory days of Saddam)
In the latest blow to Iraq's disastrously ineffective government, six ministers from the country's Sunni political bloc said they would boycott cabinet meetings to protest the handling of allegations that one of the six, Culture Minister Asad al-Hashimi, had ordered another politician killed.
Hashimi is accused of masterminding the assassination attempt, against Mithal al-Alusi, once a top aide to the Shiite politician Ahmad Chalabi and now a member of Parliament. Alusi survived the attack, but his two sons were killed. A government spokesman has defended the inquiry as impartial, but Sunnis accuse the government of trying to discredit their leaders.
Six other cabinet members, Shiites loyal to Sadr, are already boycotting the cabinet. Members of Sadr's bloc are boycotting Parliament as well. However, Parliament's acting speaker, Khalid al-Attiya, said Friday that the lawmakers have told him they expect to return to the chamber next week after a three-week absence.
Even if all the cabinet members start attending cabinet meetings they won't work together for some shared concept of the common good. They think in tribal and religious faction terms.
An arrest warrant against Culture Minister Asad al-Hashimi is just one of the reasons why the biggest Sunni bloc is boycotting the Iraqi parliament.
The main Sunni bloc with 44 members is boycotting parliament over an unrelated issue. That would make it difficult to give legitimacy to the oil bill even if it passed.
Without their presence, Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said it was not possible to debate the measure.
The revenue-sharing bill has not been passed by the Cabinet.
Further complicating the negotiations are other political disputes. Al-Maliki's main Sunni coalition partner, the Iraqi Accordance Front, was not present when the Cabinet approved the draft because it is boycotting meetings in a row over an arrest warrant issued against the Sunni culture minister.
American soldiers are fighting in order to give the Iraqi government time to function. But the Iraqi government "functions" by doing boycotts and carrying out hits between rival factions. So American soldiers are fighting to give the Iraqi cabinet more time to kill each other.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2007 July 07 12:20 PM Mideast Iraq Exit Debate|