America’s new risk in Iraq: entrenched ungrateful allies

The legacy of George W Bush’s policies in Iraq continue to cast its shadow on Iraqi politics, the Iraqi allies he chose to work with are still in strong positions but now they are increasingly critical of the U.S. Nouri Almaliki, the prime minister, is in a balancing act since he is resisting calls to reactivate the sectarian United Iraqi Alliance on one hand and refusing to integrate or even to pay the salaries of the 100,000 strong Al Sahwa forces, read almost that many families left without income, who were responsible for curbing the activities of Al Qaeda in Iraq on the other hand. Al Sahwa is now in a state of flux and some of its members are turning back to supporting Al Qaeda with all the implications of more terror attacks and higher sectarianism. Al Maliki’s government blames the increase in violence on the release of Iraqi prisoners by the U.S. authorities, but their number is miniscule compared to Al Sahwa and their release is so recent that it needs a strech of the imagination to associate any planned action with their release.

On the other hand, another staunch American ally, Barzani, now blames the U.S. for not letting him annex the oil rich Kirkuk region instead of thanking them for stopping him from making a strategic error.

The position of Al Maliki and Barzani are at least under threat in the forthcoming elections, the risk is when either one could succomb to temptation and decide to interfere in the census and elections processes; a failed process then is the responsibility of the U.S. and will be more difficult to fix after the fact than if assured by a U.N. supervision.

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