Thursday, October 05, 2006

Will a coup in Iraq follow the US elections?

I was originally going to post, about a socialist porno actress, until I found this article at World Socialist Web Site, the most read socialist site online. I thought it was worthy of discussion.

By James Cogan
5 October 2006

Another comment has appeared in the American press foreshadowing a move by the Bush administration to remove the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. In an opinion piece in the October 2 Washington Post, the newspaper’s deputy editorial editor Jackson Diehl strongly suggested that Washington may dispense with Maliki’s regime shortly after the November 7 US congressional elections.

Diehl’s column on Monday is part of a series of articles in the New York Times and the Washington Post that have the flavour of planted stories by the White House and Pentagon to condition public opinion for a US-organised coup in Baghdad. A relentless campaign is being conducted to portray Maliki’s government as incapable of controlling the Shiite militias involved in the country’s escalating sectarian civil war.

Diehl reported that the “central question for discussion” was whether Washington could rely on Maliki to “stabilise the country” or whether it was “necessary to override the new political system and mount some sort of intervention, led by the United States and perhaps other governments, to force the necessary deals” between rival Shiite and Sunni organisations.

Diehl left little doubt as to the answer. He damned Maliki for “still resisting forceful steps against Shiite militias” and because “negotiations with Sunni insurgents have gone nowhere”. Following the US elections, he wrote, the debate “should take centre stage”.

As an “explicit signal” of the anti-Maliki sentiment in Washington, Diehl cited the September 19 press conference held by former Republican secretary of state James Baker and Democrat powerbroker Lee H. Hamilton, who heads the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which is examining “options” for American policy in Iraq. Hamilton said the “government of Iraq needs to show its own citizens soon, and the citizens of the United States, that it is deserving of continued support”. Maliki, Hamilton warned, had until “the end of this year”.

On September 29, the US ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, delivered a similar threat, declaring Maliki only had “a window of a couple of months” to act against the two largest Shiite militias—the Mahdi Army connected to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and the Badr Organisation of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The Sadrists and SCIRI are the two largest factions within Maliki’s government. Khalilzad told journalists: “They both need to be brought down.”

The Washington Post has published two reports in the past week citing the views of unnamed US military officers that the “lack of strong Iraqi political leadership” was preventing the new Iraqi military from either replacing the American troops fighting the Sunni-based insurgency or being used to crush the Shiite militias. A US army battalion commander told the newspaper: “You fix the government, you fix the problem”.

The open threats against the Iraqi government underscore the fraudulent character of the Bush administration’s claims to be establishing “democracy” in Iraq. From the outset, Washington’s aim was to create a pliable client state that would open Iraq’s vast oil and gas reserves to US-based energy conglomerates and allow its territory to be used for permanent US military bases. The White House operates with open contempt for any notion that Iraq is a sovereign state.

Behind the undisguised hostility toward Maliki is the view that his government has exacerbated the difficulties facing the US occupation. The elections in January have been followed by civil war and rising levels of anti-US attacks. US plans for Maliki to head a government of national unity, to reconcile alienated Sunni parties and divide the armed resistance, are in tatters. Over 3,000 Iraqis are being killed each month and large parts of the country, including much of Baghdad, have been plunged into utter chaos.

This catastrophe has intensified the hatred toward the American military presence. A recent poll found that 92 percent of Sunnis support attacks on US forces. Significantly, 62 percent of Shiites, who make up more than 60 percent of the population, now agree with armed struggle against the occupation. In January, just 41 percent of Shiites expressed support for insurgent activity.

Over recent months, both Shiite and Sunni guerillas have stepped up their military campaigns to drive out the occupation forces. Insurgents are carrying out 700 to 800 attacks against US targets every week. Last month, 73 American soldiers were killed and well over 650 wounded. Eight more soldiers were killed in Baghdad on Monday alone.

Maliki’s government is widely regarded by Iraqis as a powerless and corrupt US puppet. The ruling coalition of Shiite parties has failed to live up to its election promises to demand the withdrawal of American troops and improve the nightmarish social conditions.

The New York Times reported on September 27 that even Moqtada al-Sadr is now viewed by many Shiites as “too accommodating” to the US. After ending an armed uprising by the Mahdi Army against US forces in 2004, Sadr promised that his movement would not stop seeking to end the occupation. Instead, the Sadrists have become the largest bloc in Maliki’s government and hold ministries in his cabinet.

The Bush administration is rapidly coming to the conclusion that the Maliki government is incapable of carrying out its demands above all for a crackdown on the Shiite militias. The consensus in Washington is that brutal repression must be carried out in Shiite working class districts of Baghdad and Basra—no different from that carried out in the past by the Baathist regime.

American hostility to Maliki is magnified by US preparations for military aggression against Iran. All the main Shiite parties in the government have close connections with Iran. In his efforts to bolster local support for his government, Maliki incurred displeasure by criticising the US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon.

Diehl’s column is another indication that behind the scenes the Bush administration has issued a blunt ultimatum to the Maliki government to follow orders, in particular carry out a bloodbath against its own Shiite base of support, or face the consequences.

The conditions for a coup have already been created. Thousands of extra US troops have been deployed into Baghdad over the past several months, along with Iraqi army units that American commanders consider to be reliable. Candidates to head a government of “national salvation”—that is, a military dictatorship—range from figures such as former interim prime minister Iyad Allawi to senior officers of the US-created Iraqi army.

Last Friday night, the US military pressured Maliki to order an unprecedented curfew in Baghdad. All daytime movement was banned on the streets for 48 hours. The pretext was an alleged plot by Sunni insurgents to attack the heavily fortified Green Zone. Given the tenor of the discussion in Washington, however, it could just as well have been a rehearsal for shutting down the city while “regime change” takes place.


furtherleft said...

I see no surprise here Renegade. It seems clear on the surface. Count the Coups was the name of a very popular game during years of the Vietnam fiasco. Once a people are demonized, they are no longer really people, and it matters not the name of the creatures put in place to do the bidding.

jams o donnell said...

Hmm isn't there a huge gulf here between a wish and stark reality? Elements within the US government may well wish for a coup but would it achieve anything?

Could the Iraqi Army plus US forces really have a hope of quelling both the shiite militias and the sunni insurgents?

Would Iran standing idly by if a military government stomped on the Shiites, Saddam-style?

Would the Kurds would react well to the prospect of another totalitarian government?

I seriously doubt anything can be done now to hold Iraq together.

Edie said...

I think the chaos benefits the US, despite the harm that comes to US troops. Sectarian war and governmental instability keep the US more in control than a legitimate government and solidarity in the population. A coup probably would not be difficult in the current conditions, but it would be completely obvious--something that has never bothered the Bush administration. If Iran is bothered, all the better. The US government needs a pretext that it thinks it can sell.

beatroot said...

The writer claims that the insurgency is being stepped up against the occupying troops. Balls. The violence is being stepped against civilians, not the occupiers.

Over recent months, both Shiite and Sunni guerillas have stepped up their military campaigns to drive out the occupation forces. Insurgents are carrying out 700 to 800 attacks against US targets every week. Last month, 73 American soldiers were killed and well over 650 wounded. Eight more soldiers were killed in Baghdad on Monday alone.

These appear to be the same figures as the Pentagon's latest quarterly report on Iraq, presented to Congress and posted on the defense department website on September 1, showing the number of attacks rising to 792 a week in August. However, that figure includes attacks on Iraqi civilians, infrastructure and Iraqi police as well as US and coalition troops. Iraqi civilians suffered the majority of casualties.
According to UN figures, July and August this year provided the highest death tolls yet: violent civilian deaths in July was 3,590; in August it was 3,009. That is an average of 100 deaths a day.

So, out of the nearly 4,000 deaths last month only 73 of those were US troops.

Some ‘resistance’!

The truth is that the ‘insurgency’ is just a fucking mess. They have no ideology, no demands, no political goals, no recognizable leaders, no program. These people spend much more of their time blowing up children than they do taking on occupiers.

I don’t think these people are worthy of the word resistance.

Frank Partisan said...

The writer is not a cheerleader for the "resistance". Support for Islamist, nationalist, or warlords is not what the the point of the post. It was a forecasting post, about after the election.

If to be the resistance, you have to be a good guy, then the resistance is groups like Maryam Namazie's comrades, who oppose terror, Islamism, nationalism and imperialism.

The post isn't one of the type that says politically support various religious militias in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

Iraqi regime can be changed by Bush anytime he wants. Not sure if he has to really go through a detailed plan like this. He can justify whatever he does by saying that it is relevant for National Security. But I doubt anything he is planning is going to stop the daily killings there.

beatroot said...

It's nothing to do with being the 'good guy'...the point of an insurgency is that it is capable of overthrowing an occupation and it knows what it wants to put in place afterwards.

Do you really see that now in Iraq?

beatroot said...

And the post is just plain wrong in claiming that the insurgency is gaining some momentum in Iraq. It's not. It's killing babies. Nothing to support.

Frank Partisan said...

The article is not about support for the insurgency. The writer is from a group that believes supporting any nationalist leadership is a sellout. They split from the SWP(US), for supporting Castro and Ben Bella.

The writer is guilty, of using available data, that wasn't broken down as minutely, as beatroot was able to find it broken down.

roman said...

It is true that an overthrow of the Maliki government engineered by Washington would be a betrayal of the main guiding principle of the occupation, that of creating true democracy for the Iraqi people.
It may be, however, the only way to prevent Iraq from falling into Iran's sphere of hegemony. One possible scenario is taking shape. Is there any doubt that Iran is directly fueling the sectarian violence from the Shia side? It is and it will be its greatest blunder. Evidence, currently being accumulated for this support, will be conveniently exposed as justification for the coup. It will announce that the action was necessary to "save the sovereign integrity of Iraq from betrayal within".

Edie said...

I do agree with Beatroot that it is chaotic. I think you can still call unorganized resistance 'resistance.' I think a movement is an objective occurance, a tendency, a trend--not necessarily a "movement" complete with a guy out front with a megaphone. Regardless of organization or absence thereof, it is a resistance in Iraq. The opposite of resistance is complacency, acceptance, cooperation, and probably most importantly, alliance.

Does that mean the SEP supports the agenda(s) of that resistance? Of course not.

Graeme said...

The resistance seems to be resisting everything and anything, including each other. It is a civil war.

A coup would not be surprising at all. Nothing is surprising anymore

beatroot said...

The writer is guilty, of using available data, that wasn't broken down as minutely, as beatroot was able to find it broken down.

I think ‘minutely’ maybe the wrong word. ‘Obviously’ might be a better one. The minutely broken down data took me literally about two minutes to find. Not a work of prize winning journalism. And if you are using that kind of data to try and prove that the insurgency against US troops is picking up then that kind of routine look at the data is crucial.

So I think there was some deception by the writer there…proving that this might be the most ‘widely read socialist something’ but it is certainly not a source I would trust.

As far as a ‘coup’…I don’t think even this American government is that stupid (but you never know). A coup would further weaken any pretense that this is a sovereign government and so destabilize the place even more. The UD want a stable-ish Iraq so they can get the hell out of there…

What the US doesn’t like is the prime minister at the moment and may be trying to find ways to get the Iraqi parliament to kick him out - via no confidence votes or some other way – and get someone else in.

Manipulating yes, but hardly a ‘coup’.

LeftyHenry said...

Well the US has to do SOMETHING. Perhaps they think a regime change is necessary. I really think that this move is not something the US can do undetected and will probably enrage more Iraq moderates if they do carry out a coup.

SecondComingOfBast said...

He says he's joking, but I think Don Imus has the right idea. Reinstate Saddam Hussein. Just say, hey now, sorry about Iggy and Squiggy (his sons) but these things happen. So just come back in here, try to be good, don't go around killing and torturing people, and we'll just forget the whole thing, okay?

By God, I like the sound of it more every day.

Edie said...

Beatroot, I don't think your smearing of the WSWS is warranted or particularly wise. You can call it a replacement instead of a coup if you like and the question will not be answered.

As for the assertion that resistance has increased, even the Washington Post this morning noted that the number of US troops wounded in the last month has spiked to the highest level in two years, mainly attributed to the attempt to contain resistance in Baghdad.

They cite the Defense Dept. data, which shows 776 US soldiers wounded in action last month and 300 more so far this month.

They also note that for this war (as opposed to the oft-compared Vietnam war) the numbers of wounded are a much more accurate reflection of the intensity of the action than the numbers of dead because of the technological advances in armor and medical care.

Don't forget the 20,000 wounded soldiers, 9,352 of whom suffered injuries serious enough to be removed from the theater of operations.

I'm frankly pretty disgusted by the bloodthirsty attitude some people take about the death toll, almost as though it doesn't count as a war unless tens, hundreds of thousands of soldiers are killed.

Frank Partisan said...

U.S. Casualties in Iraq Rise Sharply From Washington Post 10/07/06

The number of U.S troops wounded in Iraq has surged to its highest monthly level in nearly two years as American GIs fight block-by-block in Baghdad to try to check a spiral of sectarian violence that U.S. commanders warn could lead to civil war.

Last month, 776 U.S. troops were wounded in action in Iraq, the highest number since the military assault to retake the insurgent-held city of Fallujah in November 2004, according to Defense Department data. It was the fourth-highest monthly total since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. ...

More than 20,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in combat in the Iraq war, and about half have returned to duty. While much media reporting has focused on the more than 2,700 killed, military experts say the number of wounded is a more accurate gauge of the fierceness of fighting because advances in armor and medical care today allow many service members to survive who would have perished in past wars. The ratio of wounded to killed among U.S. forces in Iraq is about 8 to 1, compared with 3 to 1 in Vietnam.

"These days, wounded are a much better measure of the intensity of the operations than killed," said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

In military operations, wounding an enemy soldier, is preferred to killing an enemy soldier. If a soldier is wounded, it disables three soldiers.

troutsky said...

Has the CIA become totally useless? In the past they could always engineer these removals and insertions with deftness. We the People are perfectly willing to turn a blind eye if they at least Attempt to be discreet.

As for the anarchy of civil war, why is it accepted that a peaceful partition is impossible. Groups with defined interests could sit down and divide things up, including shares in the Iraqi Oil Company, without any violence at all.When talking about Iranian influence think OPEC, not Shi'a.

Anonymous said...

At this stage does a coup in Iraq really even matter? Is it going to change anything at all? Too many have already died, and a civil war of this scale cant be stopped by a regime change.

Even if you put a Karzai style puppet, nothing is going to change. Iraq is the equivalent of 1980's Afghanistan, the Soviets changed the jefe at the top, but the reality was still the same.

beatroot said...

Edie: You can call it a replacement instead of a coup if you like and the question will not be answered.

No, a coup is a coup. If they directly tried to change the government there would be utter hell break out, and they are NOT THAT STUPID. There will be no coup. But for sure they are lobbying very hard to get the Iraqi parliament to get rid of the PM.

even the Washington Post this morning noted that the number of US troops wounded in the last month has spiked to the highest level in two years, mainly attributed to the attempt to contain resistance in Baghdad.

The deaths and injuries are a tiny fraction of Iraqis being murdered by Iraqis. A ‘spike in figures’ is relative.

They also note that for this war (as opposed to the oft-compared Vietnam war) the numbers of wounded are a much more accurate reflection of the intensity of the action than the numbers of dead because of the technological advances in armor and medical care.

Bull. Nonsense. Vietnam and Iraq are very very different situations. For many reasons. Among them are: the Americans had AN ARMY do deal with. They had an enemy with clearly defined goals. They had an army that was an extension of the Cold War. That army was not spending most of its time blowing up children, it was very effectively blowing up Americans.

Mike Ballard said...

I don't think a coup will follow the U.S. elections. I think there's confusion (see Woodward's new book STATE OF DENIAL) within the executive committee of the State about how to maintain control over that oil patch aka Iraq. Divide and rule is a factional choice of some, while others just want a nice bourgeois democratic window dressing to the affair. But the main thing is to maintain control over the oil.

troutsky said...

Beatroot, wouldnt you agree that Viet Cong were engaged in a civil war and often targeted civilians who aided US and South forces? And that US forces killed civilians who were suspected of aiding North? And that US forces had great difficulty discerning enemy due to lack of uniforms, in other words, irregulars.Perhaps we called them insurgents, or guerrillas, we could have called them terrorists. Just to point out a few similarities.

Frederick said...

Sorry to be off topic, but have you heard of this:
Gunning Down Itemad Ismail Abu Mo'ammar

morbo said...

When are you going to do the post about the socialist porno actress?

Frank Partisan said...

Depending on what MarxistfromLebanon and Maryam want to post, I'll post it when the discussion is done.

Anonymous said...

beatroot would be easier to read if he/she weren't so steeped in false information and false dogma.

Only 75 us service men died?
That's a big thumbs up of some sort?
I guess you haven't been clued in on the Shia, Sunni and government militia's doing mass killings nightly.
A defined enemy in Vietnam with clear goals?
I guess the private religious school you attended didn't clue you in on the VC - your statement implies that the enemy were all NVA regulars.

BS beatroot

beatroot said...

Anonymous…if you compare the number of US troops dead with the amount of Iraqis who died in the same period I think you can work out what I am saying.

Maybe you find me difficult to read because I use words with more than two syllables in them?

Anonymous said...