Iraqi politicians plotting against al-Maliki regime
In the lobbies of luxury hotels and the apartments of exiles, an assortment of Iraqi politicians has been spending the summer vacation plotting...
Iraq developmentsPlane attacked: The U.S. military Friday confirmed an apparent attack on an Air Force cargo plane leaving Baghdad with four members of Congress on board. U.S. Central Command said the C-130 aircraft "observed surface-to-air fire upon departure from Baghdad International Airport on Thursday. The aircrew dispensed flares as a defensive countermeasure and conducted standard evasive maneuvers. The aircraft, crew and passengers safely completed their flight." On board were Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; Mel Martinez, R-Fla.; and James Inhofe, R-Okla.; and Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala.
In Anbar province: U.S. and Iraqi forces raided houses Friday in the Euphrates River town of Haqlaniyah, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad, and closed bridges linking the town with Haditha, according to residents reached by telephone.
Seattle Times news services
AMMAN, Jordan — In the lobbies of luxury hotels and the apartments of exiles, an assortment of Iraqi politicians has been spending the summer vacation plotting a nonviolent, parliamentary coup that would oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, declare a state of emergency and install a new government.
At the forefront of these efforts is former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite who was Washington's first choice to lead Iraq after the U.S. occupation authority ended. He now is being presented by his followers as the best hope of saving Iraq from what they say is certain catastrophe.
But Allawi's is by no means the only name in circulation. Another former prime minister, two current vice presidents, an ex-planning minister, an Iraqi general from the old regime and an independent Sunni parliamentarian are among those being tipped as potential alternatives.
"Everyone is desperate to be prime minister," said Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni politician who has thrown his support behind Allawi but who also has been mentioned as a potential candidate. "Iraq is producing prime ministers."
The dream of dislodging the Shiite-led government by forming a coalition from a disparate assortment of disgruntled Sunnis, Shiites and secularists dates to the beginning of the year, when the plotting to replace al-Maliki began in earnest in the relative safety of Amman. But the effort was given new momentum by a statement from President Bush last week, in which he hinted for the first time that U.S. support for al-Maliki was waning.
Al-Maliki's opponents now are making their way back to Baghdad in time for Monday's reopening of parliament determined to do just that, by forming a parliamentary majority that could outvote the Shiite-Kurdish coalition on which al-Maliki depends.
In a bid to muster Kurdish support, aides said Allawi plans to meet this weekend in Kurdistan with the president of the region, Massoud Barzani, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
"There's been a definite change in tone from Washington, and the momentum ... to support Allawi will increase," said Jaafar al-Taie, a political analyst involved in the coalition campaign. "It's not only that Maliki must go, but that the whole system must go."
According to Allawi's published program, the parliamentarians would not only appoint a new government but also suspend the new constitution, declare a state of emergency and make the restoration of security its priority.
Allawi has pledged to end the politics of sectarianism that have plagued Iraq.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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