Peeling away factionally or a date dropping from a dying palm?
Iraqi justice minister Hashem al-Shebly has resigned because of dissatisfaction over the running of the government. He is the first cabinet minister to quit since Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. took office nearly a year ago. Article
Much more here:
The Iraqi government has endorsed a decision to relocate and compensate thousands of Arabs who moved to Kirkuk as part of Saddam Hussein’s campaign to push out the Kurds, an official said yesterday. The decision was a major step toward implementing a constitutional requirement to determine the status of the disputed oil-rich city by the end of the year.
Iraq’s Justice Minister Hashim Al-Shebli said the Cabinet agreed on Thursday to a committee’s February recommendation that Arabs who moved to the city from other parts of Iraq after July 14, 1968, would be returned to their original towns and given monetary compensation. Al-Shebli, a Sunni Arab, also confirmed he had offered his resignation on Thursday, citing differences with the government and his own political group, the secular Iraqi List, which joined Sunni Arab lawmakers in opposing the Kirkuk decision.…
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, could not be reached for comment. Government adviser Sami al-Askari said he had no information about the resignation.… [Purely speculation, but there almost must be some hardball internecine positioning and backbiting occuring related to Talabani’s massaging of Turkey regarding the status of Kirkuk (see yesterday’s Iraq IIO section). — voxd] Article
Two of the three factories produce (wait for it) supplies for the occupation forces, the military and police.
In an Iraq jobs program, the Pentagon has helped reopen three factories shuttered after the 2003 invasion, seeding the ground by buying uniforms and armored vehicles from two of them.
In a program started nearly a year ago, the Defense Department has reopened a large textile factory in Najaf by buying uniforms for Iraqi soldiers and police that the U.S. has been training, and has reopened a vehicle factory south of Baghdad by buying armored vehicles, said Paul Brinkley. He is deputy undersecretary of defense in charge of Pentagon business modernization efforts and has been running the program.
Brinkley has been taking representatives from private industry in the United States and elsewhere to Iraq to encourage them to do business in the country.
One company has agreed to buy 120 trucks from the transport company and another is expected to buy clothing from the textile factory that Brinkley said could be on American shelves by fall. [Wanna bet on that? Odds are heavily against meeting that commitment. — voxd] Article
Therein lies the dilemma. What Gen. Petraeus describes as ‘victory’ is not a military solution, nor a military job. Using a jackhammer to pound in thumbtacks results in an entirely predictable mess.
Everywhere Petraeus went on Saturday, shopkeepers asked when they would have such services as electricity.
The war is not about killing the enemy, he said. It’s about providing jobs, gaining people’s trust, learning who can be brought into the political fold and
who is irreconcilable, about mending sectarian wounds and providing services.
On Saturday, only Iraqi army troops were present in the market, though two police brigades are in the neighborhood.
In any case, Petraeus said, it’s unlikely that violence will disappear. Iraqis will have to grow accustomed to it.
“You’re trying to learn how to live with a level of violence,” Petraeus said. “It’s not sustainable if people don’t feel secure.” Article
Editorial du jour:
Now the lines are clear and the American people have a choice on Iraq policy.
The choice is not whether or not to continue the Bush administration’s current surge of more than 28,000 additional troops into Iraq. Both the House and Senate have passed supplemental spending bills providing funds for the surge.
The choice concerns what happens after that. Will a post-surge policy be one of continued escalation or one of contraction? If the surge succeeds in stabilizing Baghdad and the Anbar province west of Baghdad by late summer, as Gen. David Petraeus hopes, what’s the plan? And if it doesn’t succeed, what then?
The new majorities in the House and Senate support a post-surge policy of contraction. The Senate’s bill, approved Thursday on a 51-47 vote, requires the president to send Congress a plan for drawdown of U.S. combat brigades with a goal of completing redeployment by April 2008. The House bill passed last week sets a binding timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal by Sept. 2008.
The congressional bills do not call for precipitous withdrawal. They give the surge time to stabilize the situation (or not) and for regional diplomatic initiatives to take place to prevent a widening of the Iraq civil war to neighboring countries, as the Iraq Study Group recommended last December.
All options at this stage are less than ideal, a point that the Iraq Study Group report underscored. It concluded that reducing our combat troop commitments in Iraq, “undeniably creates risks, but leaving those forces tied down in Iraq indefinitely creates its own set of security risks.”
The congressional funding bills should be seen as a mechanism for forcing a long overdue weighing of those risks, a consideration of unpalatable but inescapable alternatives.
At the moment, both Congress and the president seem intent on winning a war of rhetoric. By passing these supplemental appropriations bills, Congress has signaled that the current open-ended commitment, upping the ante at each new decision point, is no longer acceptable. The president insists that the issue centers on presidential authority in wartime and support for the troops. Article
Keeping up with the courts-martial:
The trial for a soldier accused in the rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and the slaying of her family has been delayed, the soldier’s attorney said.
Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman’s trial was scheduled to start Monday at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, but was pushed back after his defense attorney received new information regarding witnesses, attorney Dan Christensen said.
A public affairs officer at Fort Campbell, Master Sgt. Terry Webster, said Saturday he did not know about the delay. As a matter of protocol, military prosecutors will not discuss the case. Article