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Iraq and it's future!

Interesting Article: "Iraq PM: Green Zone bomb was assassination attempt" By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA / Baghdad published Saturday, December 3, 2011
An interesting article by the associated press mentioned that a bombing took place inside Baghdad's green zone and that it was an assassination attempt against Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Monday's blast inside the central Baghdad zone, which is supposed to be one of Iraq's most secure areas, has raised new concerns about whether Iraqi forces are able to protect the country when the U.S. military leaves by the end of the year. Al-Maliki played down any suggestion that the attack, in an area that is also home to the U.S. Embassy as well as many Iraqi government institutions, demonstrated any weakness in security ahead of the U.S. military withdrawal. All American forces are to be out of the country by the end of this month. Al-Maliki said the bomb had likely been assembled inside the Green Zone and was not very powerful. Al-Maliki said Iraqi security forces were still looking for at least four people believed to have played a role in the plot. Was this the beginning of more attacks inside supposedly secured areas in Baghdad?


There are definitely sectarian tensions in Iraq, and rather than decreasing sectarian tensions, Iraqi leaders appear to be pouring fuel on the fire. In recent weeks the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has arrested more than 600 alleged former Baathists who are suspected of plotting against the central government. The reigniting of sectarian tensions could easily draw in regional heavyweights like Iran and Saudi Arabia, which are locked in a heated battle for power and influence across the Middle East. In fact, there are already disturbing signs that the two countries are preparing for a showdown inside Iraq once the American military pulls out. Neither the U.S. government nor its Iraqi counterparts anticipated a complete military withdrawal. But as the weeks passed, American officials were unable to get the Iraqis to agree to legal immunity for troops who remained—a necessary condition, according to the White House. To be legally binding, the Status of Forces agreement had to be approved by the Iraqi Parliament, according to American legal experts. And no Iraqi politician, certainly not Maliki, seemed willing to stake his political future on supporting legal immunity for American soldiers. Of course, even after a full withdrawal, the United States will still have a sizable diplomatic presence in the country. A whopping 16,000 American personnel will work at the embassy in Baghdad, the vast majority of whom will be security contractors. There will also be some 200 American military personnel who will help train the Iraqi military to use the tanks, F-16s, and other equipment it has purchased from the United States. All these Americans will be in the line of fire once the troops withdraw. Last month the fiery cleric Muqtada al-Sadr issued a blunt statement about American staff working at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad after the Dec. 31 deadline. “All of them are occupiers, and it is a must to fight them after the deadline,” Sadr wrote. That is no idle threat, given the Mahdi Army’s bloody history of attacks against the U.S. military. Iraq could face a de facto split along sectarian lines. And that might tempt Shiite Iranian leaders and the Sunni rulers of Saudi Arabia to ramp up their support for their respective communities in Iraq. Any attempt by the Saudis to increase their influence will not sit well with Iran, which has deep ties with the Iraqi government as well as militant leaders like Sadr. The depth of their influence was on display three weeks ago: the same day that U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta addressed the Senate Armed Services Committee about the readiness of Iraqi troops, the head of the Iraqi Army, Babakir Zebari, was being feted like a royal in Tehran. Zebari, who has made headlines in the past by announcing that American troops should stay in Iraq until 2020, seemed to be hedging his bets. He met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the trip, as well as with top commanders of the Revolutionary Guards. The increasingly close ties between Baghdad and Tehran have left some Iraqis wondering whether the end of one occupation will signal the beginning of another. Anti-American Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr has 40 parliamentary seats that are key to ensuring the parliamentary majority of the Maliki-led coalition. Sadr, who is closely aligned with Iran, had made it clear that he and his Mahdi Army would take up arms against continued US military presence in Iraq beyond the end-of-2011 deadline. If he decides to quit the coalition, the Maliki government will fall. Maliki’s own Dawa party, a Shiite fundamentalist group, has 89 seats, and many of its members have close relations with Iran; they opposed the US effort to negotiate a new status of forces agreement. If Maliki is on his last legs, we can see Muqtada al-Sadr coming in to fill the role. Within him he brings Iran, and with the head of the Army, Babakir Zebari's visit to Iran, Maliki seems on his way out after all the U.S troops leave then end of this month.

 
References:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/03/MNMF1M7V4F.DTL
http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2011/12/04/sunnis-and-shiites-head-toward-a-showdown-in-iraq.html


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