The green zone of Baghdad, a highly fortified slice of American suburbia on the banks of the Tigris river, may soon be handed over to Iraqi control if the increasingly assertive government of Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, gets its way.Memo to Bush/McCain: whichever compliant stooge is negotiating with al-Maliki these days, he is NOT doing a very good job (for you).
A senior Iraqi government official said this weekend the enclave should revert to Iraqi control by the end of the year. “We think that by the end of 2008 all the zones in Baghdad should be integrated into the city,” said Ali Dabbagh, the government’s spokesman.
“The American soldiers should be based in agreed camps outside the cities and population areas.
“By the end of the year, there will be no green zone,” he added. “The separation by huge walls makes people feel angry.” Dabbagh acknowledged that getting rid of the green zone would be a huge undertaking, given the thousands of American soldiers, private contractors and foreign workers who live inside. He said the concrete walls that divide it from the rest of the city would be taken down slowly, “depending on the threat and circumstances”.
Under the Baghdad government’s plan the embassy will remain but the Iraqis will take back the five-square-mile secure “bubble” surrounding it.I think the traditional word for that is "seige". I wonder how much the Iraqis will charge for deliveries of food? BWAAAHHAHAHA!
And get this: if you want access to Bush these days, you gotta donate to his library:
"The exact budget I will come up with. But it will be somewhere between $600,000 and $750,000, with about a third of it going directly to the Bush library."Where does the rest go, hmmn?
It looks like the exiled leader of Krygystan smuggled a video camera into the meeting with Bush's former private travel aide. And hey - that's Rupert's newspaper dumping on Dubya! The progressive blogs are not impressed!
UPDATE: Talks on a Status Of Forces agreement have now collapsed and will be replaced with a short-term "bridge" deal until US and Iraqi elections are completed later this year:
The failure of months of negotiations over the more detailed accord -- blamed on both the Iraqi refusal to accept U.S. terms and the complexity of the task -- deals a blow to the Bush administration's plans to leave in place a formal military architecture in Iraq that could last for years.I'll just quote Atrios's response:
And what where those "U.S. terms"? Oh, right, it's the Bush Rule Of Law... No accountability, no responsibility, no rules, no laws.And speaking of those looming Iraqi elections, I sure hope this campaign style catches on in my part of Australia soon:
It is a politician's dream: Handing out cold, hard cash to people on the street as they plead for help. Iraq's prime minister has been doing just that in recent weeks, doling out Iraqi dinars as an aide trails behind, keeping a tally.And it's not just the Iraqis:
Top U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus has repeatedly called money a crucial weapon to lure neighborhoods from extremists and stabilize Iraq. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, urged the government to pass out money even faster this week on a trip to devastated Mosul in the north.And the corruption. Don't forget the corruption.
The United States has been doling out cash itself, most effectively to former Sunni militants who switched sides to fight al-Qaida. The military has also provided money and assistance to projects like fixing damaged roads in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City after battles there.
Yet most recent big spending announcements have been Iraqi: $100 million to rebuild Sadr City; another $100 million to the Shiite city of Basra after fighting there; $100 million for another southern Shiite town, Amarah; and $83 million to help internal refugees return home.
It's unclear how fast the project money will actually get out. Past U.S. surveys have found Iraqi officials actually spent only tiny portions of the money they had allocated, often because of disorganization in government offices or a lack of technical know-how.
Now get some popcorn, sit back and watch how the US media spin this latest setback for the Bush Oil Grab. Here's one nice example:
The flip side is that the Americans feel their control slipping away. This feeds a worry that Iraqi security forces either will set themselves up for a catastrophic failure or might even decide — at some point when the Americans largely have departed — that the country would be better off under military rule.I note that same article is still pretending that the Iraqi forces had a major victory in Sadr City, and another one in Basra. In fact, both battles were victories for Al-Sadr and only ended when he negotiated a ceasefire. This is really they key to the latest downturn in violence, and the Iraqis all know it. But US leaders are still totally pissed about it:
When will the Americans know that the Iraqis are ready to handle security entirely on their own?And again, a hint of spin to come:
"The Iraqis are going to have to decide. When do they believe they are where they need to be, on their terms?" Hammond said. He said one test of their readiness will be when Shiite militias, whose leaders he says largely fled to Iran and other countries after being pushed out of Sadr City, return to fight again.
He predicts that fight is coming.
"I wouldn't give up Sadr City like that, and I don't think they will. I'm sure they won't," he said. "They'll come back."
Hammond did not address the possibility of the Iraqi army breaking out of the control of its civilian overseers, but some private U.S. military analysts have said in recent weeks that they see a risk of a coup.So we cannot leave until the Iraqi security forces are ready to take over, but when they are ready to take over we cannot leave because they will be too powerful and dangerous. Obviously, there's only one solution: USA in Iraq 4 Evuh! At least until the oil's all gone...
"It's something that's being talked about" among some U.S. government officials, said Stephen Biddle, an Iraq watcher at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.
"If we were to leave you could easily imagine a situation in which the military as the most effective institution in society decides to take over," Biddle said. "The parliament is the least respected institution in the society."Look at that, George! US-style Democracy (TM)! Who said it couldn't be done, eh???!