A Shuffle in Iraq?
While on the surface this seems encouraging in that, if true, the concession might move the process of selecting a new prime minister forward – along with choosing or confirming the permanent speaker of parliament and the president and two vice-presidents.
However, there are a number of ifs, mights, and mays in all this.
-Has al-Jaafari actually agreed to step aside?
-What is the quid pro quo and is it within the Dawa party or in the larger Iraqi body politic?
-Will Moqtada al-Sadr, al-Jaafari’s chief backer, accept the reported change or will he demand a concession for his party?
-Given the wave of sectarian-based violence, neither the Sunnis nor al-Sadr are unlikely to accept anyone from SCIRI (Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq) as prime minister because of SCIRI’s control of the Badr Brigades. The same objection would apply to al-Sadr with his “control” of the Madhi army.
This would seem to open the way for selection of a “secularist” as prime minister, but the Shi’ite clerics could oppose this option and close it down quickly.
Should the Iraqi’s actually get a functioning government, they have two immediate tasks. The first is to fulfill the pre-constitutional referendum pledge to consider amending the constitution. The second is to publicly ask the U.S. and coalition countries to withdraw all troops and bases.
If the currently improbable becomes the possible, all sides should be ready to move rapidly to anchor the possible in the new reality – before that reality flows away.