Monday, August 23, 2004


2 Abu Aardvark posts of interest

The first, and most recent, post from Abu Aardvark is that al-Aribiyya is reporting that Iyad Allawi is threatening resignation over the Najaf situation.
Since Allawi's resignation would more or less mean the complete collapse of the American-brokered "transitional" political strategy, this would seem to be a rather big deal. I wouldn't miss him, personally, since he represents an alarmingly authoritarian trend in the new Iraq, but that's where the Bush administration chose to put its chips. If this story is true (and even if it isn't), the dice do seem to be rolling (and the knives out).

For what it's worth, Al Arabiya is considered (by itself, its Saudi owners, and the Bush administration) to be the more 'moderate' and more 'professional' and more 'objective' alternative to al Jazeera. As with the bin Laden thing last week, I don't know if the English-language media isn't covering this because it isn't true, or if something else is going on. But either way, could some of our well-paid media folks maybe avert their eyes from Swift Boat Liars for a moment and find out?
Also from Abu Aardvark, apparently the name of the 'conference' to establish an Iraqi parliament to set Iraq on the path towards elections and then [ta-da] elections in Arabic (al Mutamar al Watani al Iraqi) is the same as the Iraqi National Congress - the group headed by Ahmed Chalabi.
Chalabi and the INC aren't just the most unpopular political grouping in Iraq (they scored a whopping 0.2% support in the June 2004 Oxford Research International poll, and scored third - behind the Baath and the Communist Party - on "who would you never vote for?"; in the February 2004 survey, Chalabi topped the rankings as the single must mistrusted politician in Iraq - 10.3%, more than 7% worse than Saddam Hussein in second place). More to the point, Chalabi and the INC were seen by pretty much everybody as the chosen American puppets. Even now that he has fallen from American graces, and is trying to reinvent himself as a Sadrist, "American puppet" is what almost all Arabs think when they hear the name "Iraqi National Congress."

Which makes "al Mutamar al Watani al Iraqi" a particularly, almost spectacularly, inept choice of names for a gathering meant to build legitimacy for the new government, and to convince Iraqis and Arabs of the independence of this new Iraqi government from the American occupation.

So, whose bright idea was it?

Now, on general principles, when you hear the words "spectularly inept" and "Chalabi" in the same sentence about Iraq, the neo-cons in the Defense Department immediately spring to mind. And this conference was "stipulated by a law enacted by the departing U.S. civil administration last month." Was this yet another master-stroke from our neo-con friends, with their keen understanding of Arab culture and political psychology?
Every time you think that it couldn't possibly get any worse, that maybe somebody is going to start taking this Iraq thing seriously and stem the bleeding, you are quickly disabused of that notion.

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