Once More, Washington Puts the Cart Before the Horse in Iraq

The following article was published on Wednesday by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford and currently based at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. It is reproduced here in full with the author's permission. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

First, the Obama administration played a key role in Sunnifying the Iraqi nationalism of Iraqiyya so that it could be more acceptable to Iran: By encouraging Iraqiyya to accept a junior, “Sunni” role in a power-sharing arrangement for the next government where the Iranian-supported Shiite parties clearly have the upper hand, Washington basically gave Iran what it wanted in Iraq in terms of a politics defined in sectarian fronts. To add insult to injury advisers to Obama went on to spin the US involvement in the affair as a triumph of American diplomacy against Iran! Today the US government went a little further: To celebrate the latest “progress”, it decided it was time for the UN Security Council to give up some of what little remains of outside-world leverage in Iraq, including a formal termination of the oil-for-food programme and restrictions relating to weapons of mass destruction.

Unsurprisingly, it was Vice-President Joe Biden that dominated today’s proceedings in the UN Security Council, convened under the US presidency, but in every other respect awkwardly timed. Despite the lack of substantial progress in the Iraqi government-formation process, Biden chose to focus on supposed “remarkable developments” in Iraq. Other US officials have cited “very real progress” and even “tremendous progress”. They do not even seem to notice that the Iraqi parliament has yet to address the legal framework for the supposed cornerstone of the power-sharing “deal”, the national council for high policies, without which the whole “agreement” is basically a spin-doctor masquerade. It should be added that the UNAMI report that formed the basis for today’s discussion of the “progress” is comparatively sober: Although it fails to acknowledge the considerable challenges involved in legislating brand new institutions of power to make the deal work, at least it recognises that some of the issues involved in the power-sharing deal belong to the sphere of constitutional revision – where progress is measured in years rather than in months.

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