Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Maliki Played It Well

Maliki’s snub was not directed at President Bush—it was rather aimed at Jordan’s King Abdullah. The media covering the summit chose to get it wrong and blamed the 'Hadley memo' for Maliki’s rebuff when they should have been paying more attention to Abdullah’s recent provocative actions that led up to the meeting. Abdullah had met with Harith al-Dhari a couple of days after the firebrand pro-al-Qaeda Sunni preacher had called upon Arab states and the UN to withdraw their official recognition of the Baghdad government. Then Abdullah met with Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, Tariq al-Hashemi and Ayad Allawi in rapid succession. These royal side-meetings with Iraqi leaders prior to the summit were designed to undermine Maliki’s assertion that he’s the top dog in Iraq—something that the imminent meeting with Bush would have reaffirmed.

After al-Dhari’s photo-op with King Abdullah, Maliki’s coterie of advisors feverishly argued for and against choosing a venue other than Amman for the summit. They wanted their resentment over Abdullah’s meddling in Iraqi affairs to be made obvious without canceling the summit. Some Iraqi politicians had already made a big hoopla over the Abdullah-Dhari meeting and were saying unflattering things about Maliki's sense of manly honor on local Iraqi TV networks. Maliki's team allegedly sought counsel from an external source that advised them to go to Amman but to scrap the proposed three-way meeting between Maliki, Bush and Abdullah that had been scheduled for Wednesday evening. This was indeed what they did, thus foiling Abdullah’s ambitious three-point plan to link the delivery of regional goodwill on Iraq to jumpstarting Arab-Israeli negotiations, acting as midwife to a ‘National Salvation’ government that would involve Allawi, and brokering a better deal on behalf of the Sunnis. This plan was supposed to raise Jordan’s profile in the Middle East and make the regime there more useful for America’s goals beyond intelligence-sharing in the war on terror. Jordan already gets hundreds of millions of dollars in aid annually from the United States.

Abdullah’s plan failed, and he was shut out from the Bush-Maliki tête-à-tête on Thursday morning. By all accounts, the meeting went very well. Abdullah ended-up disappointing Iraq’s Sunnis and making Allawi look foolish, as well as fumbling Jordan’s role in the peace process. Some royal advisor needs to get his ass fired.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

preposterous. You are saying that malaki didn't snub Bush but king abdullah. first, no one in the press read it that way, which would make a public "snubbing" absolutely futile. second, virtually all of the press coverage correctly interpretted it as a response to bush's purposfully "leaked" memo, which was a simple and typical act of bush admin disrespect.

hudson institute- are you glad to be paying for this man's townhouse? he just said with a straight face that malaki was not snubbing bush but king abdullah of Jordan. think about that. and he offers no proof other than alleged rumblings from malikis "inner circle"

9:54 AM, December 02, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lester read this carefuly

December 2, 2006
Reporter’s Notebook
Facts and Body Language Bring Clues and Questions at Bush-Maliki Meeting
WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 — Nobody expected a love fest when President Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq met in Jordan this week. As they wrapped up their breakfast at the Four Seasons hotel in Amman on Thursday morning, aides warned that reporters, dozens of whom were packed inside a brightly lit ballroom for a news conference, would be on the lookout for any sign of bad blood.

That’s when the president hugged the prime minister.

“Somebody said, ‘They’re going to try to see if there’s any tension between you,’ ” one senior administration official said. “So the president did a big hug, and put his cheek right next to Maliki’s. He started laughing, like, ‘See how close we are.’ ”

The question of how close Mr. Bush and Mr. Maliki are — or are not — was the subject of much speculation in Jordan this week. The official story line at the White House is that the two are comfortable and candid with each other, and that Mr. Bush, as he himself told reporters on Thursday, believes that Mr. Maliki is “the right guy for Iraq.”

The facts, though, raise questions.

Mr. Maliki, after all, scrubbed a meeting on Wednesday night between himself, Mr. Bush and King Abdullah II of Jordan, and did not see the president until Thursday morning, even though the two were staying at the same hotel. Mr. Bush, for his part, had to face Mr. Maliki after the leak of a memorandum written by Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, who raised doubts about the prime minister’s leadership.

The fates of these two politicians have been intertwined ever since Mr. Maliki, a taciturn 56-year-old Shiite who was an opposition leader when Saddam Hussein was still in power, became prime minister in April. The breakfast in Amman was their third face-to-face rendezvous.

It is a complicated entanglement. Mr. Bush, who has staked his presidency on success in Iraq, needs the Maliki government as an ally. But Mr. Maliki’s survival depends, in part, on his ability to demonstrate that he is his own man, not an American puppet. The president’s “right guy for Iraq” line might have gone over well in the United States, but it might not have done Mr. Maliki much good at home.

“It’s very clear that Bush needs Maliki. Period, end of sentence,” said Kenneth M. Pollack, an expert on Iraq at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. “I don’t think it’s clear that Maliki needs Bush.”

Theories abound as to why Mr. Maliki backed out on the Wednesday night meeting. The quickie pop analysis, by the ever-skeptical White House press corps, was that Mr. Maliki was irked by the Hadley memo. In the press center of the Amman Sheraton, after two White House officials struggled to put a positive spin on the surprise change of schedule, Mark Knoller, the longtime CBS News correspondent, summed up the sentiment with a catchy rhyme.

“The White House,” Mr. Knoller proclaimed, his voice booming into a microphone, “insists the scrubbing of the meeting was not a snubbing!”

The inherent hazards of challenging the official version of events meant that people who offered alternative accounts, like the senior administration official who described the presidential hug, would do so only on condition of anonymity.

Some suggested that if anyone was being snubbed by Mr. Maliki, it was the Jordanian king, who had irritated the Iraqi leader by meeting with Sunni Arab leaders in Iraq before the summit meeting.

A Kurdish official offered yet another theory — that Mr. Maliki spent the night trying to quell a political uproar in Baghdad, where followers of Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric, had announced earlier in the day that they were boycotting the Maliki government over the meeting with Mr. Bush.

“By leaving it open that he had canceled a meeting with Bush, even though it was for one day, it could help him with street cred,” the Kurdish official said.

Whatever the reason, the Hadley memo clearly hovered over the summit meeting, enough that Mr. Bush opened the breakfast meeting with a little ice-breaker at the expense of Mr. Hadley, who was by his side. “He said, ‘Mr. Prime Minister, do you know Steve Hadley?’ ” the senior administration official said of Mr. Bush. “He kind of looked back and smirked at Steve, and everybody laughed. It obviously served his purpose.”

Mr. Maliki, though, did not look very happy with Mr. Bush at the news conference. When the president heaped praise upon the prime minister, lauding him for his courage, Mr. Maliki barely looked Mr. Bush’s way. Though much was made afterward of the body language, White House officials blamed the language barrier, saying each man was listening intently into his earpiece for a translation of the other’s words.

But there did not seem to be any translation lag when the president asked if Mr. Maliki wanted to take a few extra questions from reporters. In an instant, Mr. Maliki’s head swiveled toward Mr. Bush, his eyes wide open in a glare as he blurted out, “We said six questions, now this is the seventh — this is the eighth — eight questions.”

Mr. Bush, who had promised minutes earlier that there would be no “graceful exit” from Iraq, quickly found a graceful exit from the news conference, grabbing Mr. Maliki’s hand for the obligatory handshake picture, before the two leaders disappeared behind a curtain of flags.

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Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

11:30 AM, December 03, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

it got one sentence. a "some say". I guess for mr kazimi that's pretty much a home run. certainly bettr than curveballs mobile weapons labs

12:10 PM, December 04, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I pray for your unhinged sanity my dear Lester. Have you not heard that the so called Curveball character had nothing to do with the INC? You may deem to check a report by the Robb-Silverman commission that at last lays to rest this urban myth. Why is it asking too much for your likes to update this accusation?

Toodles, The Goat

Nib:-stellar entries these days!

7:36 PM, December 04, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

nib- horrible entries these days!

anon- from media matters

"As the Robb-Silberman report noted in Chapter One: "Curveball ... came to the attention of the Intelligence Community through a foreign liaison service. That liaison service debriefed Curveball and then shared the debriefing results with the United States." As a July 13, 2004, report in The New York Times indicated, this "foreign liaison service" was in fact German intelligence, and the INC introduced Curveball to the Germans. The Times reported that U.S. intelligence erroneously judged that Iraq maintained a network of biological weapons (BW) laboratories due to its "reliance on one central source, known as Curveball, who was introduced to German intelligence by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress." (Newsweek has also reported Chalabi's role in providing Curveball to the Germans.)

The Robb-Silberman report documented that Curveball, who it deemed a "fabricator," led the U.S. to dramatically overstate the threat posed by Iraq's biological weapons in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE):

Shortly after Curveball started reporting, in the spring of 2000, his information was provided to senior policymakers. It was also incorporated into an update to a 1999 NIE on Worldwide BW Programs. The update reported that "new intelligence acquired in 2000 ... causes [the Intelligence Community] to adjust our assessment upward of the BW threat posed by Iraq ... The new information suggests that Baghdad has expanded its offensive BW program by establishing a large-scale, redundant, and concealed BW agent production capability." [Brackets in original document.]

Further, the report noted that while the U.S. intelligence community previously believed only that Iraq "could" possess biological weapons, Curveball led U.S. intelligence officials to express "high confidence" in 2002 that Iraq currently possessed such weapons:

Previous [Intelligence] Community estimates had assessed that Iraq could have biological weapons; the October 2002 estimate, in contrast, assessed with "high confidence" that Iraq "has" biological weapons. This shift in view, which began in 2000 and culminated in the October 2002 NIE, was based largely on information from a single source -- Curveball -- who indicated that Iraq had mobile facilities for producing BW agents. "

You are referring to a lame interpretion of this report by the WSJ, which is nothing more than an editorial.

11:43 AM, December 05, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my dear Lester,

So you have turned into a fabricator yourself, Oh how the tables have turned!

Robb Silverman report page 108:-

Page 108: "Despite speculation that Curveball was encouraged to lie by the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the CIA's post-war investigations were unable to uncover any evidence that the INC or any other organization was directing Curveball to feed misleading information to the Intelligence Community.

Instead, the post-war investigations concluded that Curveball's reporting was not influenced by, controlled by, or connected to, the INC."

Ha ha! What have you to say now Monsieur Lester?

Ta ta, The Goat

4:11 PM, December 05, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous- because curveball was dircted to GERMAN intelligence. so he didn't fabricate anything to us, he did it to the germans via chalabi and the talisman wizard, who is probably working on a "baker group are anti semites" essay for the NY SUN

11:50 AM, December 06, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

lester do you have a problem understanding the obvious?

"Instead, the post-war investigations concluded that Curveball's reporting was not influenced by, controlled by, or connected to, the INC."

are u stupid or what?

2:02 PM, December 06, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's the next paragraph

"The October 2002 NIE relied on reporting from two INC sources, both of whom were later deemed to be fabricators."

and again, the robb report doesn't go into detail about how curveball got to germany. but thanks for your input. too bad talismangate wizard has already come out for scooter libby , torture, sunni ehtnic cleansing, and every other neo con horror imaginable it might have helped. we're making america sucker free in 07. that means no perpetraters!

3:33 PM, December 06, 2006

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