Maliki: I’ve Done Enough

MALIKI: I’VE DONE ENOUGH….Marc Lynch listened to a speech an interview on al-Arabiya with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Friday and came away discouraged. Apparently Maliki announced that there was no civil war in Iraq — or even any real sectarian conflict — and therefore no need for the Shiite majority to waste time making any further concessions to the Sunni minority. The process of political reconciliation is dead because, as far as Maliki is concerned, it’s already happened:

Leave aside the various dubious claims which he makes….Focus intead on the political implications of what he’s saying: this amounts to a public declaration by Maliki that there will be no further efforts to achieve political reconciliation. Don’t expect any more national reconciliation in the form of “legislation” or “benchmarks”, Maliki is signaling. The “achievements” of the various tribal awakenings absolve the national government of any further responsibility — and, pace the Weekly Standard — are more important than mere legislative agreements anyway.

In other words, Maliki is gleefully hoisting the United States on its own bottom-up reconciliation petard. In order to sell the surge to Congress, the Bush team decided to focus on positive developments at the local level and downgrade the significance of the deadlocked national political process. Evidently, Maliki took notes.

So what happens now? It’s becoming plainer and plainer over time that Maliki and the major Shiite parties aren’t going to allow Sunnis any real political power. Even Ryan Crocker seems to admit as much. But the Sunnis are gaining military and police power, and it’s inevitable that at some point either Maliki is going to stop cooperating with the various “awakenings” that are empowering the Sunni tribes or else that the awakened Sunnis are going to get tired of being marginalized and go after Maliki. Either option leads in the same direction: a reignited civil war.

There is very little the United States can do about this. Right now we’re effectively arming both sides in a civil war, which is most likely buying us temporary peace in return for a bigger, more deadly civil war sometime down the road. That’s what our next president has to look forward to.