Ayad Allawi: Renaissance Man
Pool/Getty Images News Time‘s Bobby Ghosh reported Thursday that former Iraqi prime minister and CIA favorite Ayad Allawi has earned the coveted endorsement of the Iraq’s Baath Party, which you might remember as the fascistic power base of Saddam Hussein. (The word “baath” means “revival” or “rebirth” in Arabic.) Many analysts are blaming PM Nuri ...
Pool/Getty Images News
Time‘s Bobby Ghosh reported Thursday that former Iraqi prime minister and CIA favorite Ayad Allawi has earned the coveted endorsement of the Iraq’s Baath Party, which you might remember as the fascistic power base of Saddam Hussein. (The word “baath” means “revival” or “rebirth” in Arabic.)
Many analysts are blaming PM Nuri al-Maliki for Iraq’s political stagnation, and some even see Allawi as a better option. David Ignatius, for one, lamented the fact that the CIA wasn’t allowed to do more to boost the fortunes of Allawi’s slate of parliamentary candidates during the January 2005 elections. Iran cheated, so why didn’t we? Ayad Allawi, for his part, is selling himself as the man with the plan for Iraq; the one who can pull off the ever-elusive national reconciliation.
Let’s pretend for a second that Maliki is really the root of the problem, that the Baath Party is still the major Sunni power broker in Iraq, and that Ayad Allawi has a real constituency. To pull off real national reconciliation, Allawi will still have to grapple with the actual demands of the Sunni insurgency:
[Sunni insurgent leaders] begin from a deep belief that they are the ones who defeated the United States (and they do believe that they are winning), and that they are a majority in Iraq (a few weeks ago I think I wrote about a statement by the head of the Islamic Army of Iraq which claimed that Sunnis made up 60% of Iraq’s population). They also believe that the current Iraqi state and government are thoroughly controlled by Iran, and that the Shia are determined to ethnically cleanse them from (at least) Baghdad.
Through a strange set of circumstances, I happened to convey a faxed list of Sunni insurgent demands to the White House last year. Overall, they were utterly wacky—irredentist claims that no U.S. or Iraqi Shiite government would possibly meet. And the Sunni position hasn’t gotten much more realistic since then. I don’t believe anyone, be it Ayad Allawi or whomever, has the power to change this.
Blake Hounshell is a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.
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