(guest blog by Taylor Marsh)
Iraq’s top legislator postponed the meeting of parliament scheduled for Monday, putting off "for a few days" an attempt to resolve a months-long deadlock over the formation of the country’s new government.
The move was not entirely unexpected, but it still represented a setback for U.S. officials and an Iraqi public losing patience with four months of political paralysis since Dec. 15, when the country held elections to form a long-term government.
The delay coincided with a surge in sectarian killings between Iraq’s Sunni Arabs and Shiite Muslims. At least 37 Iraqis died in shootings, bombings and other attacks Sunday, according to police officials and news reports. U.S. military officials also reported killing five insurgents in a raid in which a woman also was killed, and said four Marines were killed in combat west of Baghdad.
The Marines, from Regimental Combat Team 5, were killed in two engagements in Anbar province, officials said.
Iraqi Bid To End Impasse Stalls
Leader Postpones Parliament Session (photo by Mohammed Hato – AP)
As a blast rips through Tel Aviv, we get more disconcerting news out of Iraq.
It may not sound as sexy as nuking Iran, but it’s a critical story for the U.S. and the entire Middle East region.
The Iraqis have postponed the meeting of parliament for "a few days." A few days? What exactly does that mean? In case the Iraqis don’t get it, let me just remind everone that we don’t have "a few days."
We’ve waited for over 4 months for the Iraqis to get their act together, while U.S. blood and treasure continues to be spilt and spent in Iraq. The Iraqis obviously don’t see the urgency in the situation. There’s only one reason why.
George W. Bush has not put near enough pressure on the Iraqis to get on with doing what the Iraqi people risked their lives to create, a government all of their own in Iraq. Why isn’t there more pressure being exerted from the president and his people?
One simple answer is that Bush doesn’t have any leverage with the Iraqis any longer. He’s talked so long about not leaving Iraq until the Iraqis stand up that they obviously know the president will give them all the time they need. Right now, the Iraqis don’t see a win in forming a government, because we’ll be there as long as they need us, regardless of how long it drags out. So, the Iraqis are taking their own sweet time. Bush saying he’ll stay until the Iraqis are ready has added to the carnage and the growing civil war crisis that is threatening to not only destabilize Iraq, but spread throughout the region.
Now that minority Shiite and Sunnis are fleeing cities on fear of their lives, you’d think the new Iraqi legislators would get the urgency of the situation. But not even that sight has inspired them to move.
Via Juan Cole we get the continuing Bush foreign policy legacy: if at first you don’t succeed, try failing at the same strategy again and again.
U.S. officials are pressing for early local election in troubled Anbar province, hoping it will produce a government that can undercut support for the insurgency in the region where it is strongest.
The effort has gained new urgency amid U.S. fears that Sunni Arab extremists are trying to fill a political vacuum created when tribal sheiks fled to Jordan in recent months. The sheiks got out after a suicide attack and assassinations of local figures who had worked with the Americans.
Past attempts to form a government in Anbar – including provincial councils and officials appointed by the Americans or the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad – have had little success in winning public confidence in this Sunni Arab-dominated province, a bastion of the insurgency since it erupted following the U.S.-led invasion three years ago. (Juan Cole)
"A few days" wait to form an Iraqi government is not good enough. Someone needs to light a fire under these people. If Bush and his administration can’t get it done they need to get an emissary over to Iraq immediately who can make it happen and soon. Everything depends on Iraq forming a permanent government. Get it done.