Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations

Public Relations

Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations
Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations

Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations Benador Associates Public Relations

Benador Associates Public Relations

IRAQ PM'S 100-DAY PLAN
AL-MALIKI MUST GET MORE RADICAL YET
by Amir Taheri
New York Post
June 29, 2006

June 29, 2006 -- WITHOUT saying so in public, Iraq's new prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has given himself 100 days to achieve what his entourage describe as "the beginnings of a turnaround" in the newly liberated country. His success could determine the course of events in Iraq for months, if not years.

Presented under the slogan "Together, Forward," Maliki's plan has three key objectives.

1) Get the institutions of government, starting with the newly elected parliament and the Council of Ministers, working and seen to be working. This might seem odd to those who take a functioning government for granted. In post-liberation Iraq, however, everything must be built from scratch.

Maliki realizes a new army and police can't be built in isolation, and that a working bureaucracy provides the backbone of law and order in any society. This has been illustrated by episodes where newly trained army and police units didn't get paid on time because the civilian bureaucracy had ground to a halt.

2) Throw a cordon sanitaire around greater Baghdad, thus depriving the terrorists of the "oxygen of publicity" they draw from attacks in the capital. The plan is to treat Baghdad as a no-go area protected by systems used in major international airports.

In theory, this should not be difficult. More people visit London's Heathrow Airport each day than enter or leave Baghdad. In practice, however, cordoning off Baghdad might require greater resources; unlike Heathrow, the Iraqi capital is targeted by determined terrorist groups, often recruited from among the security services of the fallen regime, with intimate knowledge of the terrain.

3) Persuade as many insurgents as possible to abandon the armed struggle and join the political process.

Maliki has already had some success here - seven insurgent groups, all Arab Sunni-based, have declared that they are prepared to enter talks with the government. Two of these are among the largest insurgent forces in the Baghdad area. One, the Army of Muhammad, may be the deadliest.

The plan, however, faces a number of hurdles.

First, Maliki can't ask Arab Sunni insurgents to disarm while allowing Shiites and Kurds to keep their own heavily armed militias. Yet any attempt to disarm and disband those militias could lead to fighting within each community and between communities.

Some Kurdish and Shiite leaders don't trust the new police and army to protect them from terrorists. Instead, they rely on their own militias. And depriving some 150,000 Kurdish and Shiite professional fighters of their employment create as many enemies for the new regime.

One formula for dealing with the militias is to reorganize them into a national guard whose members could be called up by the government when and if needed. Members would stay on the government payroll until they find civilian jobs. (A similar formula succeeded in Kosovo; the United Nations, in effect, financed the reintegration of the Kosovo Liberation Army fighters into civilian life.)

Another hurdle facing Maliki is the refusal of powerful blocs within his coalition to endorse the kind of amnesty he has hinted at for insurgents.

Some insurgents are responsible for the deaths of large numbers of Shiites and Kurds, including prominent political and religious figures. It is hard to see a parliament in which Kurds and Shiites hold 70 percent of the seats endorsing a blanket amnesty. One way out may be the creation of a truth and reconciliation commission that, while establishing responsibility for what has happened, would try to break the cycle of violence and revenge.

To complicate matters further, the United States and its Coalition allies won't welcome any scheme that lets those responsible for the murder of their soldiers and civilians go unpunished. One solution here would be a commission to investigate cases presented by the allies, with a commitment to prosecute those charged under Iraqi law. This would also let the government isolate the terrorists, especially those who came to Iraq from other Arab countries, from those Iraqis who, misguided though they were, believed they were resisting foreign occupation.

To improve the prospects of his plan, Maliki needs to do more.

He should ignore voices within his coalition and allow hundreds of professional Arab Sunni army and police officers, tainted by their positions in the old regime, to return to service. These "purged" officers are in no position to undermine the new Iraq - and the fact that they have been deprived of their livelihood for no reason other than their obligatory membership of the Ba'ath Party under Saddam Hussein, is seen by many Arab Sunnis as a signal that they are regarded as pariahs.

As some of us pointed out before the war, banning the Ba'ath was a mistake. Yes, the Ba'ath was a fascist outfit with a deadly ideology and a murderous history. But the new democratic Iraq should and could defeat the Ba'ath, and other anti-democratic parties, in the political battlefield. There is no danger of large numbers of Iraqis rushing to join the revived Ba'ath. Lifting the ban will be seen as sign of new Iraq's self-confidence.

By all accounts, Maliki has made a good start.

Those who wish Iraq to fail - for reasons that have nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with their hatred of America and/or George W Bush - have already dismissed the Maliki plan as "too little, too late." The truth is that Iraq's new government has seized the initiative in a way that its predecessors since liberation were unable to do.

Nouri al-Maliki's performance should not be judged solely with reference to continued terrorism, although that remains a key factor. If the experience of other Arab countries is any guide, Iraq is likely to suffer from terrorism for years to come. The real measure of Maliki's success is whether he manages to retain the political initiative and use it to build democratic institutions in the context of a new policy of national reconciliation and revival.

The fight in Iraq is no longer a military contest: It is a political duel between the forces of progress and democracy on the one hand, and those of terror and reaction on the other.

Amir Taheri is a member of Benador Associates.

 

Email Benador Associates: eb@benadorassociates.com

Benador Associates Speakers Bureau
Benador Associates Speakers Bureau