Monday, March 5, 2007

Maliki Stumbles As The Washington Post Charts the Path to Retreat

Two items of note in this morning's news. The first involves Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki who, along with his government, has been working magic the past three weeks -- including a draft of an oil law, full political support for the aggressive pursuit of shia insurents and militias, and the announcement that he will dismiss all cabinet ministers from Sadr's party. Maliki has worked a three week sea change in the direction of Iraqi politics. Today, however, is a first real misstep. It comes in response to a raid in Basra conducted by British soldiers and Iraqi special forces on the headquarters of an Iraqi intelligence unit.

"Major Gell said the intelligence agency office was raided after an investigation earlier Sunday led to the capture of five suspected bomb makers and evidence that pointed to possible violations at the agency’s offices. In those offices, he said, “Evidence of significant criminal activity such as torture was found.”
Maliki was apparently "caught by surprise" when told of the raid. Instead of supporting the raid or waiting for a full report as to what was found, he immediately "condemned" the raid while ignoring the evidence of misdeeds.

“The prime minister has ordered an immediate investigation into the incident of breaking into the security compound in Basra and stressed the need to punish those who have carried out this illegal and irresponsible act,” said the full text of a statement issued late Sunday by his office.
Read the whole story here. I hope this was a simple stumble that is quickly corrected by Maliki. I sincerely hope this does not signal in any way a return to business as usual with Maliki caving to pressure to protect Shia government members at the expense of fairness and the rule of law. We will see as this plays out in the coming days.

The second item of note today comes from the Washington Post, who, following on the heels of yesterday's horrid anti-American hit piece, continue their drumbeat of defeatism. Today's piece is an article by Karen DeYoung and Thomas E. Ricks, "Bush Iraq Strategy Has No Option For Failure." Implicit in the article is a criticism of Bush for being unrealistic about the prospects for success in Iraq, and the article examines what seem to me to be wholly unrealistic "Murtha" options of redeployment to safe areas in Iraq, leaving the remainder of the country to flow into anarchy. Though ridiculous, it receives, of course, top billing in the WP today.

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