FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Meeting in Baghdad

by PATRICK COCKBURN

in Arbil.
and ANNE PENKETH in Tehran.

Iranian and American officials meet in Baghdad today to discuss Iraqi security but wide differences are expected to prevent the real dialogue which may be essential to end the war in Iraq. The talks will be led by the US and Iranian ambassadors.

The Iraqi government has been trying to get the US and Iran to talk, pointing out that both support the Shia-Kurdish government in Baghdad. Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Arab states largely oppose any such meeting.

Tehran has detained four Iranian-American scholars, charging them with undermining Iran’s security. The US continually claims Iran is arming and financing militants in Iraq but has produced little evidence. Some 45 per cent of the suicide bombers who have pushed Iraq into civil war are from Saudi Arabia.

The Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, says that like it or not, “Iran is a player in Iraq” and should be engaged in dialogue. He has also sought the release of five Iranian officials seized in a US helicopter raid on the Iranian office in Arbil, the Kurdish capital, on January 11.

Three car bombs exploded in Baghdad, one of them 200 yards from an entrance to the US-controlled Green Zone, killing 12 people yesterday. There were two more blasts in the mainly Shia Karadah district of east Baghdad which has been targeted frequently since the start five months ago of the US troop surge aimed at securing control of Baghdad.

Two political killings this week underline the vulnerability of any public figure in Iraq to assassins or suicide bombers. In Taji, a Sunni town north of Baghdad, pro-government tribal leaders were meeting under the protection of the Americans when a suicide bomber who had gained access to the meeting blew himself up, killing five and injuring 12.

In the Shia holy city of Najaf, assassins penetrated security around the house of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, revered by millions of Iraqi Shia, at the weekend. They stabbed to death one of his senior advisers, Sheikh Abdallah Falk, 50 yards from the ayatollah’s house. If the grand ayatollah had been killed by a Sunni there would have been an explosion of violence in the country.

Despite US attempts to get a raft of legislation, much of it favorable to the Sunni, through parliament there is a political stalemate. The oil and gas bill is stalled. This legislation is impatiently awaited by the Kurds but denounced by Shia and Sunni Arabs as a sell-out of Iraq’s national resources.

There is strong opposition in parliament to US-supported concessions to the Sunni such as a reversal of de-Baathification and fresh provincial elections. The Sunni boycotted these in January 2005 and are under-represented. A new election is not due until 2009. President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have been trying to put together a “moderate” alliance of Kurdish, Sunni and Shia parties. Such an administration would exclude followers of the nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who have distanced themselves from Mr Maliki, but would also be weak.

PATRICK COCKBURN is the author of ‘The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq‘, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for best non-fiction book of 2006.

 

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail