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Thursday, June 19, 2014

U.S. Signals Iraq's Maliki Should Go - WSJ

U.S. Signals Iraq's Maliki Should Go - WSJ

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U.S. Signals Iraq's Maliki Should Go

The White House Is Convinced the Shiite Leader Is Unable to Reconcile With
the Nation's Sunni Minority and Stabilize a Volatile Political Landscape.

By
Jay
Solomon
and Carol E. Lee
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Army
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared
before a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee as President Obama weighs
next steps in dealing with the Iraq crisis. Photo: AP
WASHINGTON—The Obama administration is
signaling that it wants a new government in Iraq without Prime Minister Nouri
al-Maliki, convinced the Shiite leader is unable to reconcile with the nation's
Sunni minority and stabilize a volatile political landscape.


The U.S. administration is indicating it wants
Iraq's political parties to form a new government without Mr. Maliki as he
tries to assemble a ruling coalition following elections this past April, U.S.
officials say.



Government security forces fought Thursday to
regain control of Iraq's largest oil refinery in a decisive test of Baghdad's
ability to protect an economic pillar from Sunni Muslim insurgents. Matt Bradley
reports. Photo: AP
Such a new government, U.S., officials say,
would include the country's Sunni and Kurdish communities and could
help to stem Sunni support for the al Qaeda offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq
and al-Sham, or ISIS, that has seized control of Iraqi cities over the past two
weeks. That, the officials argue, would help to unify the country and reverse
its slide into sectarian division.


On Wednesday, Iraq stepped up efforts on
several fronts to blunt the insurgency's progress, deploying counterterrorism
units and helicopter gunships to battle them for control of the country's main oil
refinery
, in Beiji.



An image grab taken from Iraqiya channel shows
Iraqi Primi Minister Nouri al-Maliki delivering a televised speech in Baghdad
on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

More

A growing number of U.S.
lawmakers and Arab allies, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates, are pressing the White House to pull its support for Mr. Maliki. Some
of them are pushing for change in exchange for providing their help in
stabilizing Iraq, say U.S. and Arab diplomats.
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence
Committee, Sen. Dianne
Feinstein
(D., Calif.) told a congressional hearing Wednesday:
"The Maliki government, candidly, has got to go if you want any
reconciliation."


Senior administration officials have become
increasingly critical of Mr. Maliki in their public statements and question
whether he is committed to mending ties with Sunnis.


"There's no question that not enough has
been done by the government, including the prime minister, to govern
inclusively, and that that has contributed to the situation and the crisis that
we have today in Iraq," White House spokesman Jay Carney
said Wednesday. "The Iraqi people will have to decide the makeup of the
next coalition government and who is the prime minister," he added.
"Whether it's the current prime minister or another leader, we will
aggressively attempt to impress upon that leader the absolute necessity of
rejecting sectarian governance."


The Obama administration has for years warned
Mr. Maliki's Shiite-dominant government to be more inclusive and less punitive
against the minority Sunnis at the risk of further alienating them.


Mr. Maliki has largely ignored that advice
over the past five years, U.S. and Arab officials say, jailing popular Sunni
protest leaders, blocking even other Shiite blocs from sharing power and taking
most key cabinet positions in government for himself.


This week, as pressure rose from the U.S. and
other allies to work toward a representative government for Iraq, Mr. Maliki
participated in a unity meeting with top Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders. The
result wasn't hopeful, U.S. and Arab officials say.


Iraq is on the brink of a full-blown civil war.
Who are these ISIS jihadists and how do they hope to change the map of the
Middle East? What do other countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan think
about ISIS? WSJ's Jason Bellini diagrams the situation, and offers
#TheShortAnswer.
"We believe that Maliki's sectarianism
and exclusion of Sunnis has led to the insurgency we are seeing," said a
senior Arab official. "He unfortunately managed to unite ISIS with the
former Baathists and Saddam supporters."



President Barack
Obama
and his national security
aides are in deliberations over the creation of a new strategy for stabilizing
Iraq, with a clear road map expected in the coming days.


Mr. Obama has discussed the possibility of
using air power and drone strikes to
weaken ISIS, say U.S. officials. But he has been particularly focused on
developing a political process to heal the widening rift between Iraq's Shiite
and Sunni communities that officials see as feeding the support for ISIS's
insurgency in western Iraq.



Mr. Obama met Wednesday with the top
Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate to update them on
administration plans.



Sen. Mitch
McConnell
(R., Ky.), the chamber's minority leader, issued a
statement afterward, criticizing Mr. Obama's past policies on Iraq and saying
it was important to apply the experience to the U.S. withdrawal from
Afghanistan in two years.



Rep. Nancy Pelosi
(D., Calif.), the House Democratic leader, said Mr. Obama didn't need any
further legislative authority to pursue options in Iraq. But officials said Mr.
Obama told the congressional leaders he would continue to consult with them.



Earlier Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck
Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
cautioned senators at a hearing against expecting quick U.S. military strikes,
because of the difficulty of developing targets. "It's not as easy as
looking at an
iPhone video of a convoy and then immediately striking
it," said Gen. Dempsey.



To support the administration approach, Secretary
of State John
Kerry
and his aides have consulted with Iraq's
neighbors—particularly Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran—to find a formula to
create a more inclusive government in Baghdad.


The State Department's point man on Iraq,
Deputy Assistant Secretary Brett McGurk, has concurrently been meeting with
Iraqi politicians and religious leaders in Baghdad to promote this political
process, say U.S. officials.



The U.S. has several difficult choices when it
comes to backing political leaders in Iraq. Washington Bureau Chief Jerry Seib
explains.
The State Department wouldn't say if the Obama
administration was specifically discussing the issue of removing Mr. Maliki
during these talks. But Arab diplomats and policy advisers who have talked with
the White House in recent days said it was clear the administration was
"casting about for somebody better" than Mr. Maliki.



Mr. Kerry was even more pointed in his
criticism of Mr. Maliki on Monday, arguing his removal could help stabilize
Iraq's sectarian divide.



"If there is a clear successor, if the
results of the election are respected, if people come together with the
cohesiveness necessary to build a legitimate government that puts the reforms
in place that people want, that might wind up being very salutatory," he
told Yahoo News.



Mr. Maliki's State of Law coalition won a
plurality of seats, 92 out of 328, in Iraq's parliamentary elections. The
country is waiting for ratification of the results, after which the
parliamentary speaker will call on the leadership of Mr. Maliki's party to form
a new government.



Mr. Maliki is still viewed as in a strong
position to retain his post. In fact, many Shiite leaders have rallied behind
the Iraqi prime minister in the wake of the ISIS gaining control of the cities
of Mosul, Tal Afar and Tikrit in recent days and launching an offensive on
Baghdad.


Still, the formation of governments in Iraq
has seen significant horse-trading—and the involvement of American, Iranian and
Arab diplomats—since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003.



The Shiite politician Ayad Allawi's political
party won the most seats in 2010. But he failed to form a government after some
Shiite and Kurdish parties backed Mr. Maliki.


Current and former U.S. officials said Iran
will be crucial a player in efforts to form a new government in Baghdad and
potentially remove Mr. Maliki, and will push for any new government to be
friendly to its interests.



Tehran and Washington are Iraq's most
important diplomatic, economic and military partners. And both the U.S. and
Iran have pledged in recent days to support the Iraqi government in its fight
against ISIS.


Former U.S. officials said both the George
W. Bush
and Obama administrations communicated regularly with
Iranian diplomats in Baghdad during the political deliberation in 2006 and 2010
that previously elected Mr. Maliki. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns
discussed Iraq's political reform process with Iranian officials on Monday in
Vienna, according to the State Department.


"Iran can play a positive role,"
said Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq from 2005 to 2007.
"Sometimes, on a tactical level, there can be an opportunity for
cooperation. It's happened in the past."



The sequencing of the U.S.'s deliberations
with Iraq and Iran will be crucial in determining whether progress can be made
in driving ISIS out of the territories it's already claimed, according to
current and former U.S. officials.


Mr. Obama has signaled that he's going to hold
back on launching any major military operations inside Iraq until he get
assurances from the Iraqi government that it will take meaningful steps to
reach out to its Sunni community.


But there are concerns within the
administration that ISIS could continue to make military gains as Mr. Maliki
and other Iraqi politicians jostle for power in Baghdad.


"The question is if the U.S. needs to do
something [militarily] while waiting for a political settlement," said Mr.
Khalilzad.



—Michael R. Crittenden, Jeffrey Sparshott,
Ellen Knickmeyer and Dion Nissenbaum contributed to this article.


COMMENT:

The
question arises is Maliki alone is at fault not the then GW Bush
administration. Then what about the foreign policy makers made such a policy to
make shiiait dominated country beside another US enenmy shiiat country Iran. The
writer very rightly and candidatly wrote:


"We
believe that Maliki's sectarianism and exclusion of Sunnis has led to the
insurgency we are seeing," said a senior Arab official. "He
unfortunately managed to unite ISIS with the former Baathists and Saddam
supporters."



How could
the Bush administration and the adviser and VC with the relevant secretaries be
so irresponsible to have done such a horrendous blunder? It is still more disgusting
to observe that the idiots now comments and suggests what is better to do to those
who are grappling with the nefarious intentional international devastated did
to make Happy a stupid idiot country that claims “We Jews  Control America” a morbid slur hurled on the
face of the Americans.


Now,
first these harmful nation devastating people should be barred to comment
totally because if they are not stopped babbling something still grave damage may
happen.


The President’s
stand seems in all the probability would be able to successfully solve the Iraq
issue. Maliki was the person who declared he sees rivers of blood and that today
he his standing on the bank of the would be rivers bloods to swim in the rivers
of blood he has created all the factors.    





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