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Sunday, June 1

Isn't it grand that Iraq now has politics?

In a sort of perverse sign that American officials have come to understand Iraqis, the sudden hue-and-cry from pro-American Iraqi political leaders against the Iraq-US security treaty seems to have been with US encouragement.

All right, so what does it all mean? After standing on my head for 20 minutes and consulting Ouija, I have decided it means that Iraqis want Americans to continue on in Iraq for the foreseeable future but at this staqe they don't want anything put in writing that cements a long-term commitment to US troop presence.

To boil it down further, I don't think they want their timetables set by U.S. political elections. That would make sense -- from the Iraqi point of view.

Amer Mohsen reports for Iraq Slogger that on Saturday:
...after months of silence on the prospective [security] treaty, al-Hayat published several reports (on the same day) quoting al-Hakeem, al-I'tilaf and the Najaf Marja’iya attacking the treaty and announcing that “a consensus among the Political Council of National Security and the United Iraqi Alliance (I'tilaf)” rejects “many articles in the treaty.” The paper also published statements by the representative of Ayatollah Sistani expressing the Marja’iya’s opposition to “any treaty that would tie the hands of future generations (of Iraqis).”

In what would constitute a political scandal in most countries, an SIIC leader told al-Hayat that al-Hakeem’s newfound protests against the treaty “do not represent a shifting of positions,” because “honestly, we did not see the draft of the treaty until a few days ago.”

The posture of al-Hakeem, the I'tilaf and Sistani come amid broad Iraqi protests involving, aside from the Sadrist Current, the “Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance” (grouping non-al-Qa'ida insurgent factions) attacking the treaty and the politicians who negotiated it. Tariq al-Hashimi, a leader in the Islamic Party, also joined the ranks of Iraqi officials attacking articles “breaching the sovereignty of Iraq” adding that such arrangements are considered “a red line” by his party.

This concerted campaign against the treaty by pro-US politicians could be seen by many analysts as a (US-approved) abandonment of the arrangement, at least in its original form, due to the popular discontent, which could be translated into electoral defeats for pro-US parties in the upcoming elections.

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