Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Today in Iraq

Juan Cole:

The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq won the provincial elections in Baghdad on Jan. 30, a fact that has been little noted in the Western press. They have now moved to depose the mayor of Baghdad and install their own man. Alaa al-Tamimi left quietly. That SCIRI and the Badr Organization (this militia ran as a political party) won the election in Baghdad province gives them the right to name the mayor. Some US reports are portraying this as a coup by a "Shiite militia", but the "coup" happened on Jan. 30 at the ballot box.

Tamimi's account of the incident is here. He was earlier charged with corruption but the charges appear to have been dropped.

Al-Tamimi was recently the subject of a glowing write up at Slate by Christopher Hitchens, who wondered why US cities were not sending aid and help to such municipal politicians in Iraq. The answer is that a) there is virtually no infrastructure for aid delivery, and any American who showed up from Cincinnati to help Tamimi would just be killed; and b) political instability is so great in Iraq that you never know from day to day whether your aid will go to Tamimi or to the Iran-trained Badr Corps paramilitary of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (from which the new mayor comes). Hitchens raised the suggestion in the context of whether the American left wants the US effort to succeed in Iraq. But the effort that Hitchens has in mind, of a secular democracy, probably failed on January 30 when SCIRI, Dawa, and a bloc of Sadrists (Shiite fundamentalist parties) jointly won the parliamentary elections. As for the security situation, I'm not sure what we mere mortals can do about it if the whole US army and marine corps are helpless before it.

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