Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Sunnis Lose

As predicted two weeks ago here on Talisman Gate, the Sunnis have played themselves out of the Iraqi political game after staging a desperate gambit to gather more power and keep their own coalition from breaking-up.

The Shiites and the Kurds went ahead with forming a ‘coalition of moderates’ and intend to form a new cabinet based on their understanding, reached a couple of days ago. They had intended to win over the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party as window-dressing, but when the latter chose to shackle themselves to the ranks of Sunni radicals, the ‘coalition of moderates’—comprising PM Nouri Maliki (Da’awa Party), Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim (Supreme Council), President Jalal Talabani (PUK), and Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani (KDP)—simply went ahead without them, to the horror of American diplomats keen on showcasing ‘political progress’ to the US Congress in a report to be submitted in mid-September.

But all these developments are actually signs of healthy political progress: politics in Iraq have matured into the dynamics of parliamentary democracy, where coalitions are formed for the purpose of governing rather than for the purpose of maintaining a semblance of inter-sectarian and inter-ethnic consensual politics, but crippling the resolve of active governing and change in the meantime. Sunnis are now welcome as equal partners in running the country, but should they continue stonewalling the progress of a new Iraq (…and secretly supporting the insurgency) in the hope of renegotiating their political clout, then they will find themselves out of the picture—and that’s exactly what happened.

Problem is, many American diplomats, spies, journalists and academics who focus on the Middle East simply cannot understand the region without the notion of Sunni dominance. The supposedly marginal minorities, such as the Shiites and the Kurds, should always be subservient to the Sunnis, goes this line of thinking. It doesn’t matter if the Shiites and Kurds constitute over 80 percent of the Iraqi nation; “What will the Saudis say?” is the refrain of this crowd.

Well, what the Saudis have to say matters very little in Iraq, and once Iraq gets back on its legs and breathes petro-fire around the neighborhood, the Saudis will matter very little across the Middle East. A new paradigm is forming, and many traditional American centers of wisdom on the region are ill-equipped to understand it.

The Sunnis of Iraq believed that their talent and proclivity for violence would matter more than Shiite and Kurdish numbers; if only they could hurt America enough, then they’d get power that is disproportionate to their votes. America, in its electoral panic and misunderstanding of the new Iraq, went the extra mile for them and found itself as their unlikely attorney, bartering for a better deal. But the former and current victims, the Shiites and Kurds, dug in their negotiating heals and were unwilling to squander their historical opportunity at role reversal. Now that the insurgency has failed both militarily and politically, there is no more incentive to reach a hasty deal—and the Shiites and Kurds can afford to be magnanimous in victory, or not.

Thus, the Sunnis now fit the Arabic proverb that goes:

ضربني وبكى, سبقني واشتكى

(He hit me and cried, then was quick to complain)

The Sunni politicos of Iraq are behaving now as classic victims, rather than would-be rulers. They are divided, petty, vitriolic, uncompromising, and they seek sanctuary and strength from outside patrons. This is a community on the decline; it is being reduced to its logical size as a small minority.

Such is the new reality of Iraq, but it’s no wonder if Congress doesn’t get it: those who are supposed to explain this new reality to them—the diplomats, spooks, journos and academes—don’t get it either.


Blogger bg said...


imo, it's most welcomed news.. :)

New Coalition Is Reached To Rule Iraq


[The deal, which would align two of the three major Shiite parties with the two major Kurdish parties, is notable in part because it excludes Sunni parties, including the Iraqi Islamic Party led by the current Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi. A statement signed by Prime Minister Maliki, as well as leaders of the other major factions in the new coalition, said that they would be able to command a majority in the 275-seat parliament in Baghdad.]

["Anyone who is not in the coalition is not in the coalition by their own choice," he said. "The members of this coalition have gone to great lengths to convince them to be part of this group to end this paralysis and it is unfortunate that people think they can hijack the political process. We must move beyond all or nothing."

The fact that some political parties opted not to participate in the government could increase the chances for reconciliation down the road. Among the parties left out of the deal are both the Shiite faction loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr and the Sunni Islamist bloc known as Tawafuq. Both of those slates include parliamentarians and government officials that have worked openly with terrorists who have attacked Iraqi security forces and American soldiers, not to mention Iraqi civilians.]


6:59 AM, August 18, 2007

Blogger bg said...


this too.. :)

"There is more uniting us than dividing us"


[Iraq's Shiite prime minister carried an appeal for unity to Saddam Hussein's hometown Friday and told Sunni tribal chieftains that all Iraqis must join to crush al-Qaida in Iraq and extremist Shiite militias "to save our coming generations."

Nouri al-Maliki's bold sojourn into Tikrit — a city once pampered by Saddam, its favorite son — underlined the prime minister's determination to save his paralyzed government from collapse and prevent further disillusionment in Washington as voices grow for a troop withdrawal plan.

The sharp alteration in the government's political course — a willingness to travel to the belly of the Sunni insurgency and talk with former enemies — suggested a new flexibility from the hard-line religious Shiites who hold considerable influence over al-Maliki's views]

["There is more uniting us than dividing us," al-Maliki told sheiks in Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad. "We do not want to allow al-Qaida and the militias to exist for our coming generations. Fighting terrorism gives us a way to unite."]

[He owed his premiership to the backing of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, nominal head of the Mahdi Army militia that has cleared entire mixed Baghdad neighborhoods of Sunni residents.

Throughout his first year in office, al-Maliki sought to protect the fighters from U.S. raids on their Sadr City stronghold in eastern Baghdad. He ended these safeguards this spring after al-Sadr loyalists quit the Cabinet because al-Maliki refused to set a timetable for an American withdrawal.]


7:05 AM, August 18, 2007

Blogger bg said...


ps: i believe Bush is the only one who "gets it".. in case
you haven't noticed, just about everyone in the world is
against him, including some of his own so to speak.. :(


7:14 AM, August 18, 2007

Blogger bg said...


oh btw.. i love this proverb..

ضربني وبكى, سبقني واشتكى

(He hit me and cried, then was quick to complain)

explains our elite Democrat fiberal hypocrites perfectly..


9:44 AM, August 18, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nibras Kazimi - can you give a run down of where the new coalition's votes are coming from in the parliament? I have seen assessments ranging from 83 to 180.

As I remember it, this coalition was the one which did the hard yards in drafting the Iraqi constitution back in the Bremer days - as you say now "maturing into the dynamics of parliamentary democracy" for the purpose of governing.

Positive development, but where are those numbers coming from? What's the position of Sadrists and Fadhila?

3:06 PM, August 19, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nebras Kazimi, do you always talk from your ass or is that exceptional?
knowing you quite well, i can tell you have become very rich by now. How much do you get being on the CIA payroll?

5:01 PM, August 19, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heh heh, Anonymous ... have never given the CIA marks for being as percipient as Talisman Gate has proved to be! Show us where and when?

1:10 AM, August 20, 2007

Blogger Louise said...

I sure hope this is true and that the new coalition lasts for some time and really gets something done. I'd sure like to hear your take on the British withdrawal from Basra, too. It this signs of defeat or is it signs of a new strategy about to begin?

5:39 PM, August 20, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kazimi on the CIA payroll?

Good God! We should be so lucky. The CIA is incompetence personified. I don't see why Congress doesn't break the Agency up.

You're not simply insulting Kazimi, you're insulting his intelligence.

7:36 PM, August 20, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

and who won then?

4:40 AM, August 22, 2007

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