The year is ending not with a successful US withdrawal from Iraq — as President
Barack Obama claims — but with what amounts to a coup d’etat by the country’s Shiite prime minister (and former ally of the US) Nouri al-Maliki. Less than 24 hours after the last US soldier
left Iraq, the country’s Sunni vice-president Tareq al-Hashemi was wanted on charges that he led death squads, in a case most
observers think could reignite the sectarian slaughter of 2006-07.
Violence in Iraq has subsided since 2006-07, when Sunni insurgents and Shiite militiamen killed thousands of civilians each month — but, without U.S. troops to act as a buffer, many Iraqis
now fear a return to those days. Al-Iraqiya, the mostly Sunni-backed political bloc, has boycotted parliament and the cabinet in protest at Maliki’s power grab. And Hashemi himself has blamed
Maliki for triggering a ‘national crisis’, and likened the premier’s behaviour to that of Saddam Hussein.
Unfortunately, the US is in a state of instrumental denial — unwilling to see Iraq’s reality for what it is, and all because President Obama has to justify his decision to withdraw US troops.
They need to wake-up quickly; teaming up with Turkey, and possibly even Iran, to exert as much pressure as possible on Maliki and his cohorts, lest the country plunge into another civil war.
In 1958 a coup in Iraq overthrew the Hashemite monarchy established, in 1932, by King Faisal I under the auspices of the British. In a few years, all the institutions that were built up with
British help had been destroyed. Sadly, it looks as though history may be about to repeat itself.