Sept. 30 saw a rare display of Iraqi-American unity in Baghdad: The U.S. embassy as well as scores of Iraqi politicians joined forces in condemning a U.S. Senate resolution to impose a federal state structure on all parts of Iraq.
In general, there was agreement that the proposal which had been introduced by Sen. Joseph Biden constituted gross interference in Iraqi internal affairs. Iraq already has a specific and very elaborate procedure for deciding the federalism issue, but both the timeline (nothing will start until April 1, 2008) as well as the size and number of the future federal entities (to be decided by popular referendums on the basis of grass-roots initiatives) are clearly at variance with the Senate’s proposal of an “international conference” intended to accelerate and simplify matters.
For once, it seemed as if the Bush administration and the Iraqis were united in stressing the virtues of a unified Iraq capable of recovering from sectarian distrust.
There was one anomaly in this picture of Iraqi-American unity of purpose: The main forces that pulled together to condemn the Senate’s decision were mostly from parties that are being largely ignored by the Bush administration. They included Sadrists, the Fadila party, independents and Daawa members of the United Iraqi Alliance, the Tawafuq bloc, and secular groups like Iraqiyya and National Dialogue Front. All in all, they made up a strong Shiite-Sunni alliance accounting for more than a simple majority in Iraq’s parliament.
By way of contrast, all of Washington’s principal allies in Iraq were absent. The Kurds enthusiastically welcomed the Senate decision, and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq wavered in its response, probably understanding some obvious parallels between the Senate proposal and their own scheme for a Shiite region, but also sensing a public opinion blowing in a different direction. [complete article]