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Friday, July 25, 2008

MotherJones Blog: Former Iraqi P.M. Says Surge Not So Great

When it comes to Iraq, the surge is a great success, right? Well, according to Ayad Allawi, Iraq's former prime minister, that depends on what you mean by "success".

In a briefing before members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday, Allawi answered questions from members of he subcommittee on international organizations, human rights, and oversight. When asked by Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), the subcommittee's ranking member, for Allawi's "assessment of of what's come of the surge," Allawi all but said, not much.

Reminding Rohrabacher that the original objective of the surge was to create a safe environment for a process of national reconciliation, Allawi said, "Now, militarily, the surge has achieved some of its goals. Politically, I don't think so."

Allawi rattled off a laundry list of perils that still confront the Iraqi people: internal displacement of large numbers of people, millions of refugees outside Iraq, security forces he described as sectarian militias dressed in national uniforms, no enforcement of the national constitution, which he described as a "divisive" document.

The former prime minister, who is now a member of the Iraqi parliament, also alleged that the process known as "deBaathification" is "being used to punish people." Originally designed to purge Saddam Hussein's loyalists from the military and security forces, Allawi said the process has become politicized and can be used against virtually anybody, since Saddam Hussein's "Baath party ruled for 35 years, and every individual had to join..."

"So, if you measure the surge from a military point of view, it has succeeded," Allawi said. "But I don't think this was the [prime] objective, because soon you will have reversals. Security has not prevailed, and the key element in security is reconciliation, and building national institutions for the country. If this does not happen, then the surge will go in vain."...

...Nonetheless, leaders of Allawi's political party, the Iraqi National List, were among the 31 leaders in the Iraq parliament who signed a letter (PDF) presented to Congress on May 29 requesting that a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq to be part of any future agreement between the two countries. The 31 signatories signed as representatives of their political parties, collectively speaking for a majority of Iraq's 275 members of parliament.

MotherJones Blog: Former Iraqi P.M. Says Surge Not So Great

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