Wishful thinking perhaps, but any progress is welcome.
Captain Ed had a very interesting post that indicates that maybe, just maybe, Iraqis are beginning to realize the opportunity that has been laid before them:
It appears that events have begun to pick up pace in Iraq. First a broad agreement seems to have coalesced around revenue sharing for Iraq's oil production, and now it looks like Nouri al-Maliki might be getting the heave as Prime Minister:
Major partners in Iraq's governing coalition are in behind-the-scenes talks to oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki amid discontent over his failure to quell raging violence, according to lawmakers involved. The talks are aimed at forming a new parliamentary bloc that would seek to replace the current government and that would likely exclude supporters of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is a vehement opponent of the U.S. military presence.
The new alliance would be led by senior Shiite politician Abdul-Aziz
al-Hakim, who met withPresident Bush last week. Al-Hakim, however, was not expected to be the next prime minister because he prefers the role of powerbroker, staying above the grinding day-to-day running of the country.
Back in March, the thinking was that by allowing a Sadr ally to form the government, it might encourage Sadr to end his efforts to gain power through violence. That has obviously failed, and failed badly. As I wrote earlier today, it torpedoed the efforts to get the Sunni and Ba'athist insurgents to end their campaigns, and Sadr has only gotten worse ever since.
Maliki needs to go, and go soon. Engaging Sadr doesn't work, and the US should return to our previous policy of targeting him and his Mahdi army lieutenants if they refuse to disarm. Thanks to Maliki, he has infiltrated the Interior ministry, so he will present a difficult opponent if he chooses to fight it out. However, Sadr makes a better power broker than a general, as he has proven several times now. Without Maliki running interference, he will be more exposed than ever.
And guess who has apparently given his blessing to the change? Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. We have not heard much from the widely respected Shi'ite cleric since Sadr's star rose, but it looks like he's coming out of his de facto retirement from national politics.
The Iraqis have tired of the lack of progress even more than we have. It looks like they have formed a coalition of groups large enough to shut down Maliki and Sadr in the National Assembly, which means that even the Shi'ites have had enough. Keep an eye on this over the next few days.
Maybe all of this "pull out of Iraq" prattle that has been going on may well be incentivizing the Iraqis to get their act together and recognize those who stand in the way of progress. A lot of people have a lot to lose if we pull out of Iraq and the Iraqis are at the top of that list.
It is said that "The gallows doth wonderfully concentrate the mind" and perhaps the Iraqis have seen the shadow of their gallows.