Not Minding Their Own Business: US Draft Law Causes First Major Political Upset In Baghdad's New Govt
A recent piece of proposed legislation sponsored by US Republicans has caused some of the biggest political splits in recent Iraqi history – both inside local politics and between Iraq and its American allies.
A piece of legislation, part of the US' annual defence bill, has caused a furore in Iraq and the first really serious disagreement in the new Iraqi Parliament since its formation eight months ago.
The legislation is part of the US Republican party's version of the a defence authorization bill and it basically proposes supplying direct military aid to the Iraqi Kurdish military and to Sunni Muslim fighters inside Iraq, bypassing the Iraqi government, currently dominated by Shiite Muslim interests. This would only happen if the Iraqi government doesn't manage to create a Sunni force itself - and supply it with military aid - within three months.
The legislation suggests the US can then supply weapons and aid directly to the Sunni and Kurdish forces, bypassing Baghdad. And the US does this by describing the Sunni and Kurdish territories as “countries” inside Iraq, basically putting into action an older plan that suggests a “soft partition” of the country’s three main ethnic or religious groups.
Even if, some days, it looks like the country might be heading in that direction, Iraqis, and the Iraqi government, don't like being told what to do in this manner.
The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and a number of his ministers denounced the plan and some prominent Shiite Muslim figures, such as the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, threatened US interests with violence. The military wing of al-Sadr's supporters organised parades in two southern Iraqi cities in a demonstration of strength. And one of the best known female MPs, Hanan al-Fatlawi, a member of the State of Law coalition previously headed by al-Maliki, said that the US embassy in Baghdad should be closed and the US ambassador expelled.