The Maliki government as well as other factions in Iraqi politics lost little time invoking their special kind of sovereignty just two days after President Obama declared the Iraqi War over for Americans. Well, at least formally. No troops doesn’t mean no Americans. The US Embassy will have 16,000 people attached to it, including military advisers and private contractors hired to replace American military trainers.
Yesterday the aftershocks of American military intervention began. One third of elected Iraqi parliamentarians, those affiliated with the Sunni-Secular Iraqiya Party, walked out as PM Maliki moved to arrest the Sunni Vice-President. No on has the pulse of the Middle East better than Juan Cole:
Only a couple days after US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta declared the Iraq War over and turned the last US base in Iraq over to the Iraqi military, Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has struck against a Sunni Arab vice President, Tariq al-Hashimi. Iraqi police have issued an arrest warrant for Hashimi, a member of the now Sunni-dominated Iraqiya Party. The Ministry of the Interior, which al-Maliki controls, confirmed the warrant.
Three members of the VP’s security detail had been under investigation in recent days, charged with engineering a car bombing inside Iraq’s Green Zone on November 28, allegedly in hopes of assassinating al-Maliki. The car bomb had been constructed inside the Green Zone (a protected area in downtown Baghdad encircling government offices and embassies) which admittedly does point to a member of the political elite. It is alleged to have gone off prematurely. Apparently Hashimi is now being fingered as the mastermind of the car bombing.
So much for leaving Iraq a stable, democratic model.
The back-story is that Sunnis have been denied autonomy and representation at the hands of a Shia-led government. Sectarian violence since 2003 has cut both ways, Sunni and Shia. The US responded with alarm:
The American ambassador, James F. Jeffrey, has raced to ease the political crisis. On Thursday and Friday, American officials contacted senior Iraqi political figures to try to establish the facts concerning the detentions, urge restraint and exhort the parties to support the vision of a pluralistic and democratic Iraq.
Republicans love the theory of the ‘slippery slope’ and have used against Obama policy proposals. For example, Obamacare builds a ‘slippery slope’ bound to result in ‘death panels’ and rationed health care.
Actually, the metaphor is most applicable to Iraq. Bush war planners were warned by many Iraqis and Iraq experts in the West that a US invasion of Iraq could lead to violent sectarian fighting, the complete rupture in civil society and chaos. And that’s what’s happened.
Colin Powell infamously said, ‘If we break it, we own it’. We don’t own it anymore. The Iraqis are left to clean up the mess themselves.