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August 16, 2007
Big Political Changes Coming to Iraq?
It could be hype in advance of the crisis meeting being held later this week that gathers leaders from all over Iraq to discuss the failing Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. But something absolutely must be done to get the nation back on the political track to reconciliation:
Under pressure from the Congress, Arab states and Sunni Iraqi leaders, the US administration on Tuesday set the stage for "major" political changes in Iraq. With the largest Sunni bloc still boycotting the government and the Council of Representatives still on vacation, Maliki has seen his government lose both credibility and along with it, power. And in case you haven't noticed, General Petreaus has continually ignored Maliki's wishes that we not attack the Mahdi militia in Sadr city, the vast Shia slum where radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's power is greatest. Several raids have been undertaken in the anti-American cleric's stronghold in recent weeks, taking out some of his leaders.
The changes will be in "the structure, nature and direction of the Iraqi state," a senior American official in Baghdad was quoted by AP as saying. He did not give out details, but the plan is expected to be high on the agenda of a 'crisis summit' which would be attended by key Iraqi leaders who seek to save the crumbling national unity government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki.
About 50 political leaders had "a friendly meeting" over lunch yesterday at the Baghdad residence of President Jalal Talabani, but the meeting was overshadowed by a suicide attack which killed 10 people in the Iraqi capital.
But the key will be coaxing the Sunnis back into his government - not an easy task when you consider that they view Maliki as an enabler of the death squads that still kill a couple of dozen Sunnis a day. And even if they are convinced to rejoin the coalition, how far apart are the two sides on all the issues that need to be addressed in order to bring about reconciliation?
It isn't clear what Maliki hopes to accomplish with this "crisis summit." Anything would be an improvement over the stalemate and hopelessness that grips the government at this point.