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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Iraq I

When Operation Lightning was unveiled the official line was that it would be the coalition’s final major operation in Iraq. The Alchemist said that he would believe that when he saw it, and of course, he has not seen it yet. Nevertheless General George Casey (Alchemy ante-intermissio) has stated his belief that, should certain conditions be met, American troop numbers will start to fall in the early part of next year. (He means that the numbers will fall because they are coming home, rather than the more traditional method of reducing troop numbers, to whit, death).

His preconditions are that the Iraqi Government (the which I like to call ‘Denethor’) and security forces (‘Canute’) prove themselves to be competent. I’ll believe that when I etc…

Old hands will recall my having discussed the Iraqi Government on more than one occasion, beginning during their elections. I for one look forward to the next elections coming in five months time. These are intended to follow the delivery of a draft constitution next month, though the chances of this draft being on-time are somewhere between ‘slim’ and ‘comical’ at the moment.

Current Iraqi bossman Al-Jaafari has of course never made a secret of his desire to be rid of the foreign troops who installed him, though no two commentators will agree why – certainly his job will become significantly harder once he is on his own, fortunately that will not be within a decade though. Al-Jaafari has said he does not want to be surprised, and I think there is slim chance of that.

Once the Constitution is drafted, and has been comprehensively argued about by every man and woman who has seen it, it will be put to a plebiscite. This is slated for September, and I suppose it might actually occur then, but don’t bet the family silver.

You will recall that the Sunnis pulled out of the drafting process for a time, and even now their delegation is under strength. Because of this the document, when it is finally produced will be most contentious. The powerful Sunni community will claim it is unfair to them because the were not as well represented during the drafting as the other factions. The Kurds will oppose the Sunnis for the sheer devilment of it, and the Shi’ahs will oppose the Kurds because they are ideal positioned to stick the knife in the Kurd’s back, also there is that whole oil-ministry thing which never sat right between the Shi’ahs and the Kurds.

If you will forgive me for dragging your mind back so far, I once said that I found the idea of a group of Arabs sitting in a room arguing about how to run a country whilst foreign troops march the streets funny, and a while later I said that I no longer found it funny because the novelty had worn off. Today I cannot decide whether a group of Arabs trying to write a constitution whilst foreign troops march the streets is funny or not. On the face of it, it seems ridiculous enough, but when we bare in mind that each of the three main factions writing the document want nothing so much as to grind the others into dust, and that any place not marched by foreign troops suffers attacks on a scale not seen since the summer ’03 (during the actual war) I for one suddenly feel less inclined to humour.

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