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Allawi's View.

In an article published on Aug. 19 by The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, Allawi - four of his five ministers on Aug. 24 quit from Maliki's cabinet - said responsibility for the current mess in Iraq rested primarily with Maliki, not with the US, adding: "Maliki has failed to take advantage of the Iraqi people's desire for peaceful and productive lives and of the enormous commitment and sacrifices made by the United States and other nations. The expected 'crisis summit' in Baghdad is further evidence of the near-complete collapse of the Iraqi government. The best outcome of the summit is perhaps a renewed effort or commitment for the participants to work together, which may buy a few more weeks or months of cosmetic political activity. But there will be no lasting political reconciliation under...Maliki's sectarian regime".

Allawi wrote: "I am working with my colleagues in parliament to build a nonsectarian majority coalition that will support the following six-point plan for a 'new era' in Iraq and replace through democratic means the current Iraqi government:

- "Iraq must be a full partner with the United States in the development of a security plan that leads to the withdrawal of the majority of US forces over the next two years, and that, before then, gradually and substantially reduces the US combat role. The United States is indispensable to peace and security in Iraq and the greater Middle East. But we owe it to America - and, more important, to ourselves - to start solving our own problems. This will not happen as long as the present government is in power.

- "I propose declaring a state of emergency for Baghdad and all conflict areas. Iraq's security forces need to be reconstituted. Whenever possible, these reconstituted forces should absorb members of the sectarian and ethnic militias into a nonsectarian security command structure. Empowering militias is not a sustainable solution, because it perpetuates the tensions between communities and undermines the power and authority of the state. A state has no legitimacy if it cannot provide security.

- "We need a regional diplomatic strategy that increasingly invests the United Nations and the Arab world in Iraqi security and reconstruction. Washington should not shoulder this diplomatic burden alone, as it largely has until now. ...Maliki has squandered Iraq's credibility in Arab politics, and he cannot restore it. In addition, Iraq needs to be more assertive in telling Iran to end its interference in Iraqi affairs and in persuading Syria to play a more constructive role in Iraq.

- "Iraq must be a single, independent federal state. We should empower local and provincial institutions at the expense of sectarian politics and an all-powerful and overbearing Baghdad. Religion should be a unifying - not divisive - force in my country. Iraqis, both Sunni and Shi'ite, should take pride in their Islamic identity. But when religious sectarianism dominates politics, terrorists and extremists emerge as the sole winners.

- "National reconciliation requires an urgent commitment to moderation and ending sectarian violence by integrating all Iraqis into the political process. We should recognise the contribution of the Kurds and the Kurdistan Regional Government to Iraq's democratic future. Reconciliation requires the active engagement of prominent Iraqi Shi'ite and Sunni political and religious leaders. ...Maliki has stalled the passage of legislation, proposed in March, to reverse de-Baathification. That proposal should be passed immediately.

- "The Iraqi economy has been handicapped by corruption and inadequate security. We must emphasise restoration of the most basic infrastructure. There can be no sustainable economic development and growth without reliable electricity, running and potable water, and basic health care. Over time, Iraq needs to build a free-market economy with a prominent role for the private sector.

"It is past time for change at the top of the Iraqi government. Without that, no American military strategy or orderly withdrawal will succeed, and Iraq and the region will be left in chaos". (Allawi was interim PM from June 2004 to April 2005).

Ambassador Crocker on Aug 16 warned that pulling US troops out of Iraq could open the door to an Iranian takeover that would threaten US interests in the region. He accused Iran of seeking to weaken the Iraqi government so that it could "by one means or another control it". Tehran has denied US charges that it is arming and training Shi'ite militias in Iraq. He said: "Based on what I see on the ground, I think they are seeking a state that they can, by one means or another, control, weakened to the point that Tehran can set its agenda".

Maj-Gen Rick Lynch, commander of US forces south of Baghdad, on Aug. 19 told reporters about 50 members of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were training Shi'ite militias in the use of mortars and rockets in his area. He said there had been an increase in "indirect fire attacks" on US forces in his area and that rocket attacks were becoming "more accurate and more effective". The US military also accuses Iran of supplying deadly roadside bombs, the biggest killers of US troops in Iraq. He conceded that no IRGC member had been captured in his region, but said 217 weapons with Iranian markings had been seized since April. On Aug. 16, US officials said the White House might list the IRGC as a terrorist organisation (see rim2-Iraq-IranAgainAug20-07).

US To Press Hard On Iran's Nuke Plan: The US and Iran on Aug. 22 geared up for the next stage in the dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, as Washington criticised a deal under which the Shi'ite theocracy offered to reveal more information about its activities. According to the deal, reached on Aug. 21 with the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran will provide more information in coming months about a series of issues the West believes cast doubt on the nature of what Tehran insists is a peaceful nuclear programme.

These issues, detailed in reports stretching back to 2003, include unaccounted-for nuclear contamination, Iran's possession of a design which could be of use in making a nuclear warhead, and unexplained links between the IRGC and the nuclear programme. Details of the deal, which came ahead of a September UNSC debate over possible new sanctions on Tehran, have not yet been made public. But on Aug. 22 the US, UK and France all indicated that Iran's step was inadequate. US Ambassador to the IAEA Greg Schulte said: "Co-operation that is partial, conditional and only promised in the future is not enough".

The EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana has got a promise from Iran's top security official Ali Larijani that Tehran would seek to address unresolved issues regarding its programme. The FT on Aug. 23 quoted a Western diplomat as saying: "There had not been any movement for over a year and now that Iran has decided to increase its co- operation with the IAEA this should be seen as an encouraging step. Any immediate dismissal of this progress appears to be an attempt to derail the process". But despite several meetings with Larijani, Solana has failed to get Tehran to halt uranium enrichment, which can produce nuclear fuel or weapons grade material - or even to stop installing new centrifuges.

Alireza Jafarzadeh, an exiled opponent of the theocracy who accurately disclosed important details about Iran's nuclear programme in 2002, on Aug. 22 said the IRGC had been, "consistently over the past few months, violating...[UNSC] Resolutions 1737 and 1747, using different ways to evade the sanctions and import goods and material [for its nuclear plan]". Those two sets of sanctions were slapped on Iran for continuing uranium enrichment.

Jafarzadeh, who provided names and details of 15 firms he said were operating as fronts for the IRGC and its affiliates, told a news conference in Washington his information came from Iran-based members of the Mujahideen e-Khalq (MeK) organisation of Iran The MeK seeks to topple the theocracy but is on the US list of extremist organisations. He said the UN sanctions did not cover all of the firms which were abetting Iran's nuclear drive. The list identified Tose'eh Silo Co. and Sazeh Pardaz Co. of Iran as primary builders of Iran's Natanz nuclear site.

US-based Iranian expert Kaveh Afrasiabi, in an article published on Aug. 18 by Asia Times Online, said by blacklisting the IRGC the Bush administration was leaping towards war with Iran. He said this may begin in Iraq, where the IRGC is said to be active. A New York Times editorial has dismissed such a move as "amateurish". But Afrasiabi wrote:

"It is a giant step toward war with Iran, irrespective of how well, or poorly, it is thought of, particularly in terms of its immediate and long-term implications, let alone the timing of it. Coinciding with President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's highly publicized trip to Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, the news received front-page coverage in the New York Times, next to a photograph of Ahmadinejad and his Afghan host, President Hamid Karzai, as if intended to spoil Ahmadinejad's moment by denigrating the Iranian regime.

"Just two weeks ago, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice implicitly put Iran on a par with the Soviet Union by invoking comparisons to the Cold War, and in essence compared it to al-Qaeda. Thus if an unintended side-effect of the Cold War terminology was to enhance Iran's global image, the 'terrorist' label for the IRGC aims to deliver a psychological blow to Iran by de-legitimizing the country. Also, it serves the United States' purpose at the...[UNSC], where a British-prepared draft of a new round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program has been floating around for a while and will likely be acted on this autumn.

"The draft calls for tightening the screws on Iran by broadening the list of blacklisted Iranian companies and even may lead to the interdiction of Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf. This is indeed a dangerous move that could easily trigger open confrontation. With the window of opportunity for Bush to use the 'military option' closing because of the US presidential elections next year, the administration's hawks - 'it is now or never' - have received a huge boost by the move to label the IRGC as terrorists. It paves the way for potential US strikes at the IRGC's installations inside Iran, perhaps as a prelude to broader attacks on the country's nuclear facilities. At least that is how it is being interpreted in Iran, whose national-security concerns have skyrocketed as a result of the labelling".

Afrasiabi quoted "a prominent Tehran University political scientist" as saying; "The US double-speak with Iran, talking security cooperation on the one hand and on the other ratcheting up the war rhetoric, does not make sense and gives the impression that the supporters of dialogue have lost in Washington... The United States never branded the KGB [Russian secret service] or the Soviet army as terrorist, and that shows the limits of the Cold War comparison".

Afrasiabi then wrote: "Particularly concerned are many top [Iranian] government officials, lawmakers and present or former civil and military functionaries who are or were at some point affiliated with the IRGC. ...Should the terror label on the IRGC be in place soon, US customs and homeland-security officials could, theoretically, arrest members of Ahmadinejad's delegation due to travel to the UN headquarters in New York next month because of suspected ties to the IRGC. Even Ahmadinejad, with his past as a commander of the Basij Corps, a paramilitary arm of the IRGC, risks arrest.

"The US has opened a Pandora's box with a hasty decision that may have unintended consequences far beyond its planned coercive diplomacy toward Iran. The first casualty could be the US-Iran dialogue on Iraq's security, although this would simultaneously appease Israeli hawks who dread dialogue and any hints of Cold War-style detente between Tehran and Washington. It would also become more difficult for Syria to collaborate with Iran with respect to Lebanon's Hezbollah, who owe much to the IRGC since their inception in the early 1980s. The consensus in Iran is that chaos in Iraq is in Israel's interests, but not that of the US, and that the United States' Middle East policy is being held hostage by pro-Israel lobbyists who have painted an enemy image..."
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Title Annotation:Iyad Allawi on the Iraq War
Publication:APS Diplomat News Service
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Aug 27, 2007
Previous Article:Maliki's Chances.
Next Article:Tehran Rebuffs Banks' Boycott.

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