Saturday, August 25, 2007

All Allawi, All the Time

Here's a some more assorted Allawi news for today:

Hands down the most interesting reads of the day goes to Harper's Scott Horton:

Then as time progressed, I grew less dismissive. I heard that the “town was flooded with Allawi money.” It was “being spread around everywhere and was drawing results.” How could that be? Where would Allawi get loads of money? And surely you don’t mean to tell me you can buy influence that crassly in Washington? (No strike that, I’m not that na├»ve.)

(emphasis mine)

Flooded with Allawi money? Sorry, I might not have $300,000 to take powerful people out to dinner with, but that's nothing in Washington.

I would presume that since Pennsylvania Ave. is currently awash in Allawi cash (at least according to the quote), that there are other recipients working for the same end as BGR. Horton points to a piece by ABC's Justin Rood which suggests that some of those funds are coming from the Arabian Peninsula:

It has been widely reported that Ayad Allawi and his political group, the Iraqi National Accord, received CIA funding from the early 1990s until as late as 2004 and consulted with CIA officials about setting up a domestic intelligence service for the Iraqi government. In 2004, Allawi was made the interim prime minister until elections could be held. Experts also believe he is supported by Gulf states wary of Iran’s influence in the Iraqi government.

The Washington Post's David Ignatius actually goes as far as to name those "Gulf states":

The Bush administration, beyond the daily temperature readings about the progress of the U.S. troop surge in Baghdad, is making a subtle but important shift in its strategy for the Middle East -- establishing containment of Iranian power in the region as a top American priority.

A simple shorthand for this approach might be "back to the future," for it is strikingly reminiscent of American strategy during the 1980s after the Iranian revolution. The cornerstone is a political-military alliance with the dominant Sunni Arab powers -- especially Saudi Arabia. The hardware will be new arms sales to Israel, Egypt and the Saudis. The software will be a refurbished Israeli-Palestinian peace process.


In "back to the future" mode, the name being mentioned these days is Ayad Allawi, a former Baathist who was interim prime minister and has strong support among Sunnis, even though he's a secular Shiite. Allawi has bundles of money to help buy political support, but it comes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, rather than the United States.

No seems terribly willing to explain the Gulf-Allawi connection. That claim seems to run counter to the possibility, brought up by Steve Benen, that Allawi's is being funded by a relative who pilloried Iraqi defense appropriations funds while briefly in office.

There is, of course, just like Rood's piece, the ever-present mention of Iran almost immediately following Allawi's name:

The administration will continue to "turn up the heat" on Iran, says the State Department official. The United States will press for a third U.N. resolution next month imposing sanctions on Iran's nuclear program. America is readying a new weapon in the impending designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. That would squeeze the guard and all of the businesses it owns -- banks, trading companies, tech companies that are part of the nuclear program -- and seek to divide President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, himself a product of the guard, from Iran's less fanatical majority.

So if you're going to be walking away from those two excerpts with two things on your mind, let them be "Iran" and "Money."

Moving on ...

If all this talk about "coup by lobbyist" is hard to swallow, Juan Cole brings news of concrete talk of an actual good old fashioned military coup:

A rumor is circulating among well-connected and formerly high-level Iraqi bureaucrats in exile in places like Damascus that a military coup is being prepared for Iraq. I received the following from a reliable, knowledgeable contact. There is no certitude that this plan can or will be implemented. That it is being discussed at high levels seems highly likely.

"There is serious talk of a military commission (majlis `askari) to take over the government. The parties would be banned from holding positions, and all the ministers would be technocrats, so to speak. . . [The writer indicates that attempts have been made to recruit cabinet members from the ranks of expatriate technocrats.]

The six-member board or commission would be composed on non-political former military personnel who are presently not part of the government OR the military establishment, such as it is in Iraq at the moment. It is said that the Americans are supporting this behind the scenes.

The plan includes a two-year period during which political parties would not be permitted to be part of the government, but instead would prepare and strengthen the parties for an election which would not have lists, but real people running for real seats. The two year period would be designed to take control of security and restore infrastructure.

. . .[I]t is another [desperate plan], but one which many many Iraqis will support, since they are sick of their country being pulled apart by the "imports" - Maliki, Allawi, Jaafari et al. The military group is composed of internals, people who have the goal of securing the country even at the risk of no democracy, so they say. "

Does anyone have a damn clue what the hell's going on in either Baghdad or Washington?

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