Making Friends?

5c20fa92-bae1-4ac5-8f44-739c52689e38.jpgWell, well, well … our Senate has once again proven their foreign policy chops with two new nonbinding resolutions. One took a shot at Iran, providing more talking points for George and Dick’s march to war … and was quickly followed by a return serve from the Iranian parliament.

The other grand diplomatic gesture was the passage of Joe Biden’s Have It My Way resolution supporting the partition of Iraq. Couched in concern troll phrases, this partition idea seems to be the pet “But you promised us a pony!” policy of the very serious folk in DC. They didn’t apparenty bother to check with either people who actually know about Iraq or … with the Iraqi people (but then why should they … clearly a bunch of smart guys and gals in DC know much better than anyone who actually lives there.)

The Biden resolution was about as big a hit as the Lieberman/Kyl posturing.

First we have Reidar Visser who points out that Biden’s plan violates the Iraqi constitution:

This is one area where Biden’s ideas clearly violate the Iraqi constitution: any attempt on the part of the US to identify “major factions” would be a top–down, externally imposed solution on a matter in which the Iraqis themselves have already designed bottom–up mechanisms. Biden does not seem to appreciate the fact that federalist pioneers among the Iraqis have always warned against federalism based on ethnicities: in their opinion, federalism based on geographical, non-sectarian criteria could conceivably serve as national “glue”; conversely, and with the exception of the Kurds and the Shiite faction that happens to be closest to Iran, Iraqi supporters of federalism have always condemned ethno-sectarian variants of federalism as a giant leap towards partition.


At the heart of this contradictive piece of legislation lie several more fundamental misunderstandings about Iraq among the many Biden plan supporters whose panegyrics adorn the senator’s website and are construed as evidence of the plan’s great potential. Take for instance Henry Kissinger’s suggestion that “a wiser course would be to concentrate on the three principal regions”. He actually seems to believe that these regions already exist! Similarly, another prominent Biden supporter, David Brooks, recently used the story of the Iraqi politician Shadha al-Musawi as inspiration for an enthusiastic defence of ethnic federalism which was published in The New York Times – the only tiny problem being that Musawi herself is an avowed enemy of the idea of a soft partition of Iraq. (snip – but read the full article for a discussion of Sen Brownback’s Iraqi history lesson in support of the resolution.)

All in all the Biden amendment is an alarming but useful numerical indication of the level of support for an “ethnic” approach to Iraqi politics in the US Senate (the supporters included presidential candidate Hillary Clinton), as well as a reminder of the remarkable unfamiliarity among even elite US politicians with the finer points of Iraqi legislation on federalism. It does not bode well for the future that the potential successors to President Bush seem to converge on a scheme that would be even more unpalatable to the Muslim world than Washington’s current policy.

Next we had the Arab League commenting on the new plan:

Ali al-Jaroush, the head of the Arab relations department at the Cairo-based league, said the idea was “hostile to Arab interests” and the best response would be to help the Iraqi people drive occupying forces out of the country.


Jaroush of the Arab League, which represents all 22 Arab governments, said he was surprised the U.S. Senate had failed many times to pass a resolution on withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, while the Biden amendment passed at the first attempt.

“The international community has started to understand the truth of U.S. aims in the region and to see through the false claims about weapons of mass destruction and pursuing Al Qaeda,” the Arab League official added.

Finally in his Friday Sermon, Sheikh Abdel Mahdi al-Karbalaie, a representative of the Grand Ayatollah Al Sistani:

warned against proposals to divide Irak along ethnic and sectarian lines as a way out of the crisis facing Irak and cautioned Irak’s neighbours against supporting such schemes as they would negatively affect “their own security and stability sooner or later.”


In his condemnation of the proposal he said that it was in the interest of all Irakis to live safely in a unified Irak consisting of Arabs, Turkmen, and other ethnic groups, of Muslims – Sunni and Shia, of Christians, Sabians, Yezhidi, he called on all the sons of Irak to work to extricate Iraq from its ordeal, and called for the security agencies to attack any armed group, whatever their affiliation to withdraw Iraq from the cycle of violence.

Speaking to Iraq’s neighbors he said:

“It is in the interest of these nations, that Irak emerge from its ordeal, and to seeking to maintain the unity, stability and security of Irak, and not to give the projects a chance or to adopt them.”

He pointed out that such projects if implemented would affect their own security and stability “sooner or later” because if implemented, such a project would lead to more strife, would the deepen the crisis within the country, would create more chaos, which would affect neighbouring countries.

Along with his warning on Partition plans:

He noted that many citizens and officials had tried to discourage the Americans from supporting armed groups without success. He called on them to renew their pressure on the Americans to halt this because they were using double standards and this method would not protect the citizenry but instead would increase the killings in mixed areas as the members of these non-government armed groups attack members of other communities leading to more more bloodshed and the displacement of people from their homes. That this policy being carried out by the Americans led to increased sectarian hostility and further exacerbation of the crisis.

Just another week of learning how not to make friends and influence people. Heckuva job, heckuva job.

Update: Cholera continues to spread in Iraq – please consider sending support to the Red Crescent to help their efforts to help people across Iraq.

Also, is aiming for 1 Million signatures on their petition in support of the people of Burma- if you haven’t signed yet, please do. The petition and lots of information are here.

Photo:A US soldier looms over a women selling cucumbers in Baquba. The US military has put down to its “war on terror” the deaths of civilians in a series of airstrikes in Baghdad and southern belts this week that also killed a senior Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq.(AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

h/t Jerid

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