In case you haven't heard, democracy is in full swing in Iraq, complete with all the stop and go lurches irritatingly reminiscent of LA traffic.
A new government is due to set up its new shiny democracy on December 11th, and it's not the tourist attractions that have us see-sawing with our departure dates.
No, it's more the fact that Iraq is a fucking quagmire, always has been. Say what you will about Hussein but that fucker kept the country in check, a tall order for anyone, particularly a forced democratic leader.
As of now, Nouri Maliki is that leader and it falls on his shoulders to grab enough seats and scratch enough backs to make that happen. As with any functional democracy (not that we would know anything about that), there must be a certain give and take, a certain power sharing, if you will. Last Thursday when Iyad Allawi stormed out of the parliamentary meeting, US officials' palms started sweating. Allawi is our guy, and quite interestingly, the Saudis as well. Hmmmm...meanwhile, Maliki has just received some intense backing from Moqtada Sadr, the militant Shia cleric in Iran. Sounds like a really sick Mid-Eastern version of choosing sides for a kickball tournament. Only two months ago, Sadr was vehemently against Maliki, who gained support from two other parties in the coming weeks, including a hint of support from the powerful Kurds. Also interesting. So, from gridlock to a political tornado in the same time it takes to don a burqa...tricky.
When the winds first started picking up, we were more worried about leaving our fine work to the discombobulated people of Iraq than giving two shits how their government was shaping up. However, the sudden influx of support for Maliki, with Sadr as the catalyst, made us very uneasy in our Green Zone. Sadr has been a thorn in our side for quite some time but we know better than to just openly oppose a candidate's growing popularity. No, we're much more sneaky. Instead, we continued to support our man Allawi, calling for "power sharing" as a truly democratic form of government. He won't win prime minister, that's in the hands of Maliki and the Kurds have a shoe-in for the presidential post. That leaves Allawi with the title of helping hand, if he can swing it. The Saudis involvement may look good from our city on a hill, but on the ground in the Middle East, anything US backed isn't bringing the street cred or popular support one would expect from a colonized country, living in new-found squalor, getting bombed every night. Ungrateful pricks.
With Allawi's power seeping through his fingers like the desert sand, so goes the US influence he stood for...or hung on puppet strings for. However, some believe (and not just us in this case) that Sadr's support for Maliki will put him in a position of repayment to Iran, making an alliance or worse a dictatorial relationship from Iran to Iraq. While most feel that's a bit of a stretch, it warrants mentioning since we suggested it - your classic case of projecting.
Regardless of Sadr's motives, ours are pretty clear: our troops may be leaving but our ideologies and big brother stranglehold wanna stay put, and will spend billions of dollars, break many laws, and kill, buy or strong arm whoever necessary to do so.
The only way Iraq will flourish is if Iraqis run it. Our involvement is not just detrimental to them, it is incredible hurtful to our agenda, our soldiers and our standings in the world, particularly in the Middle East.
But that's how we roll, we don't know how else to do it. With the ashes of countries and their democratic ideals in our past, I wouldn't be surprised to see a staying of US soldiers and an increased interest in their political doings.
We'll keep up the front that we've had this whole time, but as usual, the workings behind the facade will have no parallel to the facade itself.
Sing along with me now: if I go there will be trouble, if I stay there will be double...