Iyad Allawi’s Stump Speech

Former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has an op-ed in The Washington Post this morning that I think is probably best understood as a combination of an attempt at diminishing expectations in anticipation of the Petraeus report, roughly a month away, and a stump speech. PM Allawi lays the blame for the mess in Iraq firmly at the feet of the Maliki government:

Let me be clear. Responsibility for the current mess in Iraq rests primarily with the Iraqi government, not with the United States. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has failed to take advantage of the Iraqi people’s desire for peaceful and productive lives and of the enormous commitment and sacrifices made by the United States and other nations. The expected “crisis summit” in Baghdad is further evidence of the near-complete collapse of the Iraqi government. The best outcome of the summit is perhaps a renewed effort or commitment for the participants to work together, which may buy a few more weeks or months of cosmetic political activity. But there will be no lasting political reconciliation under Maliki’s sectarian regime.

His plan for bringing order out of the chaos consists of :

  • Declaring a state of emergency for Baghdad and all “conflict areas”
  • Cooperation of regional powers. I notice that he doesn’t mention the KSA in this regard.
  • A unitary federal Iraq
  • Bringing all Iraqis into the political process starting with de-de-Ba’athification
  • Restoration of the Iraqi economy

I think PM Allawi’s plan is full of contradictions. A state of emergency in Baghdad will further strangle the Iraqi economy, which is nearly at a standstill now. What’s needed to bolster the economy are reducing insurgent activity and finalization of the oil law. It’s also hard for me to see how in the near term the political situation in Iraq can be mended. As long as there are armed militias masquerading as political parties garnering the majority of the seats in the Iraqi parliament, isn’t it to be expected that the Iraqi government will be unable to function? But that’s what the people have elected whether due to name recognition, the absence of democratic institutions, or a crowding out effect. How likely is that to change in the near future?

PM Allawi’s timeframe for the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq is probably practical from a logistical standpoint but possibly from no other. Two years certainly doesn’t fit the preferences of many impatient Americans, despite the fact that every first-tier candidate from either political party is campaigning on the presence of American troops in Iraq on an indefinite basis. Troop presence on an indefinite basis is probably what’s required to bring any kind of stability to Iraq if it can be done at all.

The audience for Iyad Allawi’s op-ed is clearly Americans. It’s been suggested for some time that Allawi is hoping for another stint as interim PM, installed by Americans frustrated with the impasse in the present Iraqi government. Could this be a stump speech in that campaign?

Other Views

James Joyner is as skeptical of the Allawi plan as I am.

Cernig of The Newshoggers is puzzled at Allawi’s choice of the Washington Post for making his case. See above, Cernig.

Christopher Albritton characterizes the op-ed as “a comeback plan”.

1 comment… add one
  • I had the same reaction when I read this piece this morning. What’s the Arabic word for Iowa Caucus? The guy is running, and he’s hoping to get a head start, and he’s holding out the hope that if we’ll only hang in there till he’s installed everything will be great.

    I have a hard time believing the candidate from Langley will get elected, and if we install him in some kind of coup we’re abandoning one of our last rationales for staying: the “young democracy” rationale.

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