Checkmate Or Check-Out; Stalemate, Or Just A Stale Odor?

On a day when the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown insisted UK troops will remain in Iraq for the foreseeable future and there will be no exit strategy, President George W Bush of the United States decreed his “surge” of troops a success, stating that the violence in Baghdad was substantially decreased.

Both statements have a hollow ring to them, given the outburst of violence in Karbala today that has caused a major religious festival to be cut short after fifty or more people died and over two hundred were wounded. Rockets were fired at hotels, some of which were burned to the ground.

The British in the south of Iraq are, meanwhile, holed up in their barracks. Any sortie outside the perimeter is fraught with peril and rarely is a convoy not attacked.

According to the Independent newspaper of August 19th:

“….Commanders want to hand over Basra Palace – where 500 British troops are subjected to up to 60 rocket and mortar strikes a day, and resupply convoys have been described as “nightly suicide missions” – by the end of August…..”

It seems the US administration was none too keen on the plan, as the CIA were using Basra Palace as a base to spy on Iranian activity in the region and had no wish to be left with their asses bare if the British pulled out. Quite why British troops should be risking their necks to support the CIA is questionable, but it now seems the US Central Intelligence Agency has decided to pack up and leave, so any further debate is pointless.

It was noted that Bush’s speech today, like all his other appearances, restricted to ticket holders – this time, members of the US Legion – once again sniped and snarled at Iranian interference in Iraq. It was loaded with veiled threats of repercussions. Considering Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri el-Maliki has been recently courting both the Iranians and the Syrians, the US president had better decide fast where his loyalties lie. Only a few days ago he was staunchly supporting the Iraqi government leader, which in itself is perhaps a pointer to Maliki’s demise. After all, George Bush’s support for his own people in Washington has proved the kiss of death for most of them, ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales being just the latest in a long line.

Of course, there is an understudy waiting in the wings, should Maliki suffer a similar fate to Iyad Allawi who held the premier Iraqi position from May 2004 to April 2005, or Ibrahim al-Jafaari who took over from April 2005 to May 2006 before being ousted.

The name of this understudy? The very same Iyad Allawi.

Can anyone detect a nasty smell?

For those with short memories, Iyad Allawi founded the Iraqi National Accord, a political party that tried desperately to cling to power during the 2005 elections, but only managed a dismal 14% of the vote, mainly due to its leader’s utter unpopularity with the electorate. Allawi is also the guy who allegedly summarily executed six captive insurgents at a Baghdad police station, by shooting each in the head, to “….send a clear message to the police on how to deal with insurgents”.

It seems highly unlikely Allawi could butt his way back into power in Iraq, though he obviously believes it can be done. He’s hired the services of one of Washington’s most powerful Republican lobby firms, Barbour, Griffith, & Rogers (BGR), for a mere $300,000, to assist him in the venture. Unsurprisingly, the head of BGR’s international unit is Robert Blackwell who “happened” to be a member of the Vulcans, George W Bush’s foreign policy advisory team, and served as a presidential adviser on Iraq policy until his ‘retirement’ in late 2004, when he became president of BGR.

The nasty smell grows stronger.

George W Bush, and those who pull his strings, have a problem. Despite the rhetoric, the ‘surge’ is not working sufficiently to dampen the Iraqi insurgency. Maliki is running to his Shia friends in Iran and Syria for backing, so if the US is not careful they could find themselves sidelined in Iraq by al-Assad and Ahmadinejad, the huge Iraqi Shia majority backing Maliki, and nowhere for the Americans to go but home, empty-handed.

Allawi is generally seen as an American puppet, but in fact, Allawi is a pastmaster at using the US government for his own ends. More than anything else he wants power, and he will use the Republican party and the government to get it. Allawi will do his best to convince the Administration he has the power to control Iraqi factions if he can be installed as prime minister. A desperate administration may just believe him. Arranging his ascent into office would be tricky, the electorate are unlikely to vote for him, but a reversion to interim prime minister following a suspension of the present parliament, might be arranged.

Of course, it’s all speculation. But speculation Allawi, or someone, is willing to gamble $300,000 in the hopes it may pay off. It’s a dirty game. It leaves a lingering, nasty smell.

It’s certainly not a game the British troops would wish to be part of. Despite Gordon Brown’s assurances today, all the signs indicate a withdrawal is imminent.

The sooner they’re out of Iraq completely, the better.

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4 Replies to “Checkmate Or Check-Out; Stalemate, Or Just A Stale Odor?”

  1. well, thank goodness the Brits are standing proud with us! We can continue eating the nasty stuff we call “fish and chips” and not have to go over to “Freedom Fish and Fries” with “sour wine” from a packet!!

  2. Jerry – ah, if only you knew the truly succulent taste of REAL fish and chips straight from the deep fryer, with lashings of coarse sea salt and genuine malt vinegar. Luvelly! It’s the real reason I head across the Atlantic at least once a year.

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