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Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

the nyt ... behind LI by merely a year

The NYT reluctantly recognizes reality.

Since the pre-election reporting from Iraq was almost wholly misleading, telling its readers that basically Allawi, Chalabi and Mahdi were the three big contenders for the prime ministerial post, the paper has slowly assumed a more realistic position. In fact, today it is catching up with LI – from January of last year. Before the election in January, 2005, this is what we said:

“The post election situation is going to show how good a games player Muqtada al- Sadr is. Sadr has staked out a position that is both anti-exile (meaning Iranian exiles, as well as American ones) and anti-occupation. If, as seems likely, the crew that comes into power after the election is distinguished by the amount of real estate they own in Southern France or the United States, and if those politicians continue to follow a compliant line with the Americans, we expect that Sadr will have a great window of opportunity. What he does with it is the question. The appeal to poor Shi’ites would seem to be the right appeal in a country with a forty to sixty percent unemployment rate.”

Interestingly, a month after the election in 2005, the NYT published perhaps its most sci fi like article about Iraq ever, even throwing in Judy Miller’s classroom lovenotes to Ahmad, with a piece by James Glanz in which, after talking to numerous upper class Iraqis, he worked himself into a lather about Basra becoming a Singapore like city state, all business and free enterprise and working with American oil companies the way Mickey Mouse worked with Walt Disney. At that time we said:

“What isn’t mentioned in Glanz’s article? Hmm, let’s start with the fact that the South is the stronghold not of a Singapore-ist faction, but of a theocratic faction. There were local elections in the South which somehow didn’t get into Glanz’s article. Pity, that. He has a nice dreamy sentence about an American friendly, free enterprising Southern Iraqi state: “Several different versions of a southern Iraqi republic have been proposed. One would include only the three or four southernmost provinces - Basra, Muthanna, Dhi Gar and Maysan” Funny, not mentioning that Sadr’s political party won the local election in Maysan, and came in second in Muthanna. Well, Sadr of course is one of those problematic characters outside the Narrative, and it is best to ignore him. Especially as he seems to have the weird idea that Americans have come to exploit Iraq instead of liberate it. How much nicer to find people who understand our way of life – so civilized! such dealmakers! Surely these are the kind of people an empire that runs on oil can rely on.

There’s a kind of rule of thumb, here. When the NYT announces something definite about Iraq – say, for instance, the announcements last year that the army had completely destroyed the insurgents in Samarra – one should expect a completely contradictory next announcement - as in, Battles in Samarra, ten dead in Samarra, etc., etc. Glanz’s article is an ill omen for poor Basra.””

Wow. I’m impressed with myself in that last line. A little intuitive leap there.
So, in a way, the NYT seeing that Sadr has played his part so that he has become, in their words, a “kingmaker” does, at least, get the NYT to the point LI was a year ago. Nice work, boys!


“Even on the issue of Iranian influence, Mr. Sadr's position is no worse from an American point of view — and may even be better — than that of his Shiite rivals who have been running the government for the last year. Although Mr. Sadr recently traveled to Tehran and cast himself as a defender of Iran, part of his popular appeal comes from his stance as a homegrown nationalist.
"Sadrists often define themselves as anti-Iranian and accuse Sciri of being Iranian stooges," said Rory Stewart, a former Coalition Provisional Authority official in Amara, a poor southern city where the Mahdi Army holds immense sway. "It's the main reason why people like them."”
Bingo! Something that could have been discovered, oh, two years ago, when the U.S. was chasing the Mahdi army around and its stooges in the U.S. were saying, bizarrely, that Sadr was an Iranian ally.
“Mr. Sadr had decided to back Mr. Jaafari after his followers met with the prime minister and presented him with a 14-point political program, said Bahaa al-Aaraji, a member of Parliament and spokesman for Mr. Sadr's movement.
"We saw that Jaafari was closer to implementing this program," Mr. Aaraji said, than Mr. Mahdi was.

The 14 demands, he said, include a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq; a postponement of any decision about creating autonomous federal regions; more action on releasing innocent detainees from Iraqi and American prisons; and a tough stand against Kurdish demands to repatriate Kurds to Kirkuk, an oil-producing city in the north.”

The question in the Iraqi war really is this: when will the Americans realize just how irrelevant they have become in Iraq, and what will they do about it?

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