Sunday, June 25, 2006
What about the war debate here in the U.S., I ask him. Are Iraqis worried that U.S. troops will leave too soon? Does the Iraqi press pay attention when people like Congressman Jack Murtha call for troop withdrawal?
"It does. Yes, it does. This is one of things actually. The freest media in the world I think is in Iraq. Honestly. There is no censorship or restrictions or restraint whatsoever. Now you have about 15 or 16 satellite channels run by Iraqis and I don't know how many hundreds of newspapers." So "people have become more politically conscious and aware. . . . Nobody is for a withdrawal, even a timetable, for the troops."
But aren't US troops, as Jack Murtha daily reminds us, feeding the insurgency?
Mr. Zebari's primary mission in New York, in fact, was to review the U.N. mandate of coalition forces. He tells me about a fascinating discussion among Iraqi political leaders shortly before he left for New York. He told them, he says, that the new government was perfectly within its rights to ask for the departure of foreign troops. But he says he found no takers. In fact, the loudest objection to the idea came from Adnan al-Dulaimi, who represents a Sunni community generally thought to be most hostile to the "occupiers." They know only too well that coalition troops are their best protection against shadowy Baathist thugs who would like to lay claim to the Sunni leadership mantle. "Before the Sunnis were raising the flag for a withdrawal of all occupying forces immediately, that they are the sources of all the ills. Now they are the ones asking that they should stay," Mr. Zebari says.
Intimidation "is a problem," he continues. "That is, an intimidation campaign carried out primarily by the Baathists." He also says he believes the Baathists are behind the majority of terrorist attacks: "Identifying the enemy is very important. I personally believe the incubator of this so-called 'insurgency' is the Baath Party, is the remnant of Saddam's regime. Even with Zarqawi and al Qaeda, who are very lethal. But without them [the Baathists] providing the infrastructure, the support, the intelligence, the hideouts--then the attacks would not happen."
As we part ways, he offers a message for those in the international community and in the U.S. who would give up on the mission while there's still everything to play for: "There is too much at stake. Failure in Iraq means reversal of all democratic reforms throughout the region. Failure in Iraq means the power of the United States and the coalition cannot be used elsewhere in the same manner. Failure for democracy here would suggest that really these people are not used to this so its better to have one-man, one-party rule, a strong man to control this bunch of Kurds and Shia and militias and so on. Failure is a reversal of everything we've built."
I've been very pleased with the Iraqi government so far. It (the executive, anyway) seems to be made up of reasonable, intelligent people who have only their nation's best interests at heart.
Too bad it can't stay that way... *sigh*
Any word on whether THIS is true?
If so, then the Iraqi government is now for "retreat and defeat", asking the United States to "cut and run", and aligning themselves with the Democratic Party on how the U.S. ought to conduct troop withdrawals.
That's the big rumor making the rounds of the liberal blogs Screwy.
But not one news story that I found today (and I read 7 or 8 of them) mentioned anything about a withdrawal timetable in Maliki's plan.
Kind of like when Karl Rove was going to be indicted. At any rate, we'll have to wait and see. I was going to write about that very topic, but decided it would like like liberal bashing, which I like to reserve for the press.