Whooooo - look at this - Maybe tHIS is why Maliki is still in power !!!!
From BL's site.
PV Vivekanand: The cat is out of the bag. July 09, 2011
The confirmation by US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen that Washington is already in talks with Iraq’s government on the continuation of the American military presence in Iraq beyond Dec.31, 2011 comes after months of “uncertainty” whether Baghdad would make a formal “request” for a new status of forces agreement.
It is a safe bet that there was an understanding between Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki and the US government that such a request would be made and there was an agreement that Maliki would publicly maintain a different posture until he felt it politically safe to do so, given the opposition to continued US military presence within his coalition government.
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Mullen’s disclosure could even have caught Maliki by surprise; or it might have agreed between Baghdad and Washington that it would come from the US side.
Now that Mullen has confirmed that the two sides are negotiating a new accord that would allow US forces to stay in Iraq beyond the Dec.31 deadline as set in the existing status of forces agreement, it seems certain that the US will continue its military presence in Iraq for another year.
On the other side, Iran does not want the US military across its border, whether in Iraq or in Afghanistan. In both cases, it is accused of funding, training and arming insurgents for attacks against the US forces.
In reality, it is difficult to see the US military leaving Iraq for the foreseeable future since it has become vital for Washington in view of the growing Iranian clout in Iraqi affairs and the certainty that the US would not be able to counter it, since such is the shape of the regional geopolitics.
This was made clear by Mullen, whose comments to reporters on Thursday pointedly focused on Iran. He accused Tehran of sending more sophisticated and lethal weapons to its allies across the border in Iraq for attacks against US soldiers there.
US officials have been making that charge for weeks now, drawing Iranian denials.
We do not know how Maliki could help the US scale down Iranian influence in Iraq. The Tehran regime has close relations with the Baghdad government through Iraqi Shiite groups and Maliki depends on them for his survival as prime minister.
Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr has made it clear that he would fight tooth and nail against a continued US presence in Iraq beyond the Dec.31 deadline and even threatened to mobilise his Mahdi Army militia to fight the US forces after that date.
Sadr does have the option of pulling his political movement out of the Maliki coalition and bring down the government, but it is unlikely that he would do so unless that alternative is seen certain to serve Iranian interests.
The Maliki coalition, which includes the Sunni-supported Al Iraqiya bloc led by Iyad Allawi, is already shaking, with the Sunnis growing increasingly upset that they are being marginalised in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. They accuse the Maliki regime of following a policy of “exclusion.”
The Sunnis, who dominated Iraqi power politics during the Saddam era, now find themselves deprived of their power. And there is significant mistrust between them and the Shiites.
The Sunni frustration worsened when, despite having won the biggest number of seats in parliament, they were deprived of premiership for Allawi, who reluctantly agreed to join the Maliki coalition after coming under American pressure. For Washington, the Sunni-led bloc joining the coalition was a better proposition than the group staying out.
Today, there are even suggestions that the Sunnis, who, according to updated figures, represent 22 per cent of Iraq’s 32 million people, could consider a secessionist movement in the country’s west. The Sunnis live mostly in four provinces, composing nearly half of Iraq’s 43,4920 square kilometres of land.
Maliki has warned that any effort to form an autonomous region or to secede outright would lead to bloodshed.
“If it happens, people will fight each other and blood will reach to the knee,” he has declared.
Osama Al Nujaifi, the Sunni speaker of the Iraqi parliament, said secession was an option if the Sunni minority did not receive more equitable treatment.
“As a matter of fact they [the Sunnis] have strong feelings of frustration,” Nujaifi, a key leader of Al Iraqiya bloc, told the US government-owned Al Hurra television channel during a visit to Washington last month. “They feel they are second-rate citizens and are not partners in the government. If this is not solved quickly and in a prudent way before things get worse, they might think about separation or taking measures to ensure their rights,” he said.
His comment also drew a demand from some 70 Shiite members of parliament that he apologise for “fuelling sectarianism and separatism.”
But Nujaifi continues to insist that “the formation of such regions is a constitutional right.” The post-Saddam Iraqi constitution made Iraq to a federal country and gave its different groups the right to form autonomous regions.
The dispute will not have a happy ending and tensions will remain high among Iraqi MPs, threatening to bring down the Maliki government anytime.
Many speculate that the Sunnis are increasing leaning towards secession and the only reason preventing them from carrying out the plan is the US military presence.
As such, the US, which is opposed to any division of Iraq, has yet another angle other than Iran to consider while making its moves.
Whatever the considerations of, the disclosure that Washington and Baghdad are involved in negotiating a continued US military presence in Iraq threatens to force the hands of Iranian-backed groups with uncertain consequences. Certainly predictable is a noted increase in attacks against US soldiers and interests in Iraq.