“W” offered congratulations, and Monday’s headlines spoke of a political deal.
Inspecting more carefully, however, the decision reached among Iraq’s factional leaders to restore military and civil service privileges to former Baath party members was far less than meets the eye. The agreement was not only the least significant issue dividing the warring factions, but even this understanding remains tentative, subject to formal ratification by the overall Parliament.
It was Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi (second from left) who announced the “breakthrough,” even though the decision by his Iraqi Islamic Party to abandon the government remains in effect.
But no matter that al-Hashemi called out these agreements as trivial (“a wedding without a bride” was his analogy), of larger significance– to our government by PR — was the picture. Besides hyping a claim the Iraqi government had crossed some benchmarks off its list, what it also evidenced documentation of was an otherwise unreconcilable lineup of Iraqi leaders announcing collective progress at the same table.
If Vice Presidents Adel Abdul-Mehdi and Tariq al-Hashemi, President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and the Kurd leader Massoud Barzani look mostly miserable, however, it was because American pressure forced their appearance, just as the pressure has ratcheted up for every other arbitrary American deadline and milestone. Along that lines, perhaps the equivalent metaphor for Mr. Hashemi’s “bride” expression, as well as the entire group photo, might be “shotgun wedding.”)
Being back in country, I’m enjoying the chance to look at daily news in hard copy once again, especially when print content diverges from what’s on-line. In this instance, for example, the on-line photo has been cropped at the table line.
On one hand, it’s doesn’t seem unusual that Talabani, as President, would hold down the center and even preside over the presentation. At the same time, however, with the Administration looking to toss the Iraqi Prime Minister, doesn’t this read like Malaki (second from right), eyes downcast and legs pulled in, has actually already been deposed?
(image: Associated Press. August 26, 2007. Baghdad, Iraq. via nytimes.com)