al Qaeda makes their murderous presence known with traditional mayhem - multiple synchronized boom boom and a wicked flashback w/ a gussied up suicide ambulance vehicular borne attack.
Horrific as the attacks were - aQ atwixt the 2 Rivers is more a nuisance than a threat to the Iraqi gov.
The threat to Iraq may actually be the gov - as in the Prime Minister.
Since Great Satan unAssed the place - it seems like it's on now bay bee for a sectarian struggle like the sort that brought Iraq to the edge of the abyss when Surge started getting all crunk up. The Iraqi VP is hiding out in Kurdistan, sev province are talking about openly dissing the central gov and Iraqi PM seems only too hot for combat.
If this seems like interesting timing, it’s because it’s supposed to be. Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq’s increasingly ambitious Shia prime minister, waited until the US withdrawal was complete. Then he pounced, issuing an arrest warrant for Hashimi.
To understand the brewing political crisis, we should remember a few important things. First, Iraq is not really a normal democracy – it’s a negotiated state, delicately balanced between assorted ethnicities and sects. It’s a game of geopolitical Jenga, in which the removal of one block, a single Sunni leader, can bring the whole edifice crashing down.
The ethno-sectarian settlement achieved at such cost to Iraqis and Americans is unraveling rapidly. The principal Sunni bloc has withdrawn its members from the Iraqi Parliament and is threatening to withdraw from the government altogether within two weeks unless Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki adheres to the written commitments he made during the negotiations to form a government.So why cause shiafied PM al Malaki is gunning for sunnilicious VP Hashemi?
The crisis is not confined to Baghdad. Fearful of the moves Maliki had already made to consolidate autocratic rule under the fist of his Shi’a Dawa Party, Sunni provincial leaders in Salahuddin and Diyala Provinces have declared their intention to form federal autonomous regions. Maliki has angrily rejected their rights to do so. Communities have reportedly begun mobilizing to defend themselves against potential sectarian conflict in Diyala.
The motivations behind the current hostility between Maliki and Vice President Hashemi are still unclear. Though both men have always viewed one another with suspicion and mistrust, it appears that Maliki has two separate rationales that have prompted him to aggressively target Hashemi by deploying tanks to surround his residence and arresting several of his bodyguards. Both allegations appear exaggerated. Maliki’s opportunistic recognitions and ongoing efforts to consolidate power and marginalize his political opponents are most likely serving as the underlying logic in his decision-making.
Assassination Plot: The Maliki government is accusing Hashemi of allegedly financing a recent terrorist attack. In early December, the Baghdad Operations Command (BOC) suggested that the November 28 attack on the parliament was aimed at assassinating the prime minister.
The BOC first implied that Speaker Nujaifi, a senior Iraqiyya politician, was complicit because video evidence showed the bomber drove directly behind Nujaifi’s vehicle in order to receive entrance privilege. Iraqiyya, however, stated that the assassination attempt was against Nujaifi himself. Regardless of the questionable evidence, or lack thereof, the ease at which the accusations are being made by the central government is unprecedented.
Instigating Federalism: During an interview with Niqash published just days before tanks surrounded his residence, Hashemi responded to a question regarding the establishment of federal regions by mentioning that the “people in the central and southern areas” are demanding to exercise federalism “because they are unwilling to accept further injustice, corruption and bad management from the central government.”
It appears that soon after making his comments, Hashemi was accused of instigating federalism movements in the Shi’a south. A statement issued by Hashemi’s media office rejected the allegation that he called for the southern Shi’a provinces to announce a federal region. Hashemi’s statement maintained that the decision to form federal regions is entirely dependent on the inhabitants of the provinces and that any reports to the contrary have no credibility. Nevertheless, Maliki’s recent efforts to intimidate Hashemi may be one way the prime minister is seeking to suppress the growing calls to establish federal regions.
The Kurds appear to have already adopted a mediating role in calming tensions and bringing both sides to arranged negotiations. The Kurdish bloc is likely the only third actor that is able to credibly mediate between the two blocs. Given the lack of U.S. leverage, the White House appears to be working directly with Barzani in order to resolve the crisis before it escalates any further.
Rather than street celebrations marking the end of foreign occupation, Iraqis are weary of the severe political deterioration they are currently witnessing in Baghdad. Although adhering to the timetable stipulated by the 2008 U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement, it is becoming more and more apparent that the full U.S. withdrawal was premature. Iraq’s politics and discourse have not matured toward a level of stability that can reinforce confidence in the political system.
The U.S. exit had removed a critical deterrent from Iraq’s political environment that helped stabilize discourse and expectations between the various conflicting factions. Today, the level and type of rhetoric, accusations, and the lengths that the Maliki government has gone to intimidate and undermine political rivals demonstrates an unprecedented era of political hostility not seen since Iraq’s sectarian war.
Without the pacifying effect of the U.S. military’s presence, uncertainty and fear are likely to be the dominant forces shaping Iraq’s politics. As a consequence, such an environment will be prone to unpredictable scenarios and behavior that move Iraq towards armed conflict and societal fragmentation.
Pic - "Iraq in a hard place"