Allawi Hires PR Firm To Undermine Maliki

Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi has hired a powerful Washington D. C. public relations firm with close ties to the White House and has embarked on a campaign to undermine the legitimately elected government of Nori al-Maliki
This comes as President Bush is publicly taking great pains to reiterate his support for the embattled Iraqi leader.

Al-Maliki's government has come under sharp criticism and scrutiny from Washington lawmakers and officials, as reflected in Thursday's National Intelligence Estimate.

A senior Bush administration official told CNN the White House is aware of the lobbying campaign by Barbour Griffith & Rogers because the firm is "blasting e-mails all over town" criticizing al-Maliki and promoting the firm's client, former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, as an alternative to al-Maliki.

But the senior administration official insisted that White House officials have "absolutely no involvement" in the campaign to remove al-Maliki, nor have they given it their blessing.
If there is a worse political development for the Iraqi government, I can't think of one.

I doubt whether the White House approves of Allawi making noises about pulling off some kind of bloodless coup. Even though the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq leaked yesterday basically said Iraq had little chance at reconciliation as long as Maliki was in charge, they can't overthrow him and then claim to be supporting Iraqi democracy. For better or worse, Maliki is "it" so we better find a way to help him in achieving his goals. Besides, Allawi is widely seen as a puppet of the Americans and would probably garner even less support than Maliki from the people.

But does Maliki really want to reconcile with the Sunnis? He says all the right words and makes all the right noises. But he has yet to demonstrate that he can bring other members of his Shia coalition along with him on issues such as the oil revenue sharing plan, de-Baathification issues, federal power sharing with the provinces, and reconciliation issues that would pull the teeth of the insurgency and start Iraq on the road to peace.

The President says he believes in Maliki and we have to take him at his word. It is time for the Prime Minister to justify that faith and redouble his efforts to reconcile the factions in Iraq and reduce the violence.