17 June 2014
|Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki (left) and US president Barack Obama in more congenial times in 2009.|
Before all the self-righteous leftists out there go on and on about how Maliki is bad and brought this upon himself and his country, just hold on one second...
Yes, Maliki is not a great guy, and his policies and corruption have alienated many Sunnis and Kurds. But the notion being presented by some analysts, especially on the left, that Maliki is some kind of US puppet and that US military intervention is merely an attempt to prop up a client regime, is simply not in keeping with the facts. You know, those stubborn little things that get in the way of warmongering demagogy...
Allow me to present a few points about Maliki and the US that might add a little wrinkle to the pre-packaged narrative that many seem to be running with...
1. The US never wanted Maliki in power in the first place. For those of us who paid attention beyond just the "US war" part of the Iraq tragedy, we remember that Maliki was absolutely not the US choice. Initially they wanted Chalabi, the neocon darling who was supposed to rule Iraq as a viceroy or US satrap. When that failed, they tried to shoehorn the utterly corrupt moderate Sunni, and occupation collaborator, Ayad Allawi. Allawi was made the first puppet PM. He was pushed to the side by the more popular Shia Maliki who still retained Allawi's Iraqiya Bloc as an important ally.
2. Maliki moved Iraq much closer to Iran. After the decade of war and the Saddam and post-Saddam period, Maliki was finally moving the country closer to its natural ally in Iran. When I say natural, I mean in the sense that they are neighbors, both with energy reserves, deep animosity toward the US, ethnic/religious ties (Iraq is majority Shia), etc. Maliki was a vocal advocate of the proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline which would have made both Iran and Iraq major players in the European market directly, rather than through the Western oil majors as intermediaries.
3. Maliki kicked out Exxon-Mobil and threatened other oil majors who were trying to cut Baghdad out of the profits of its own resources. BP and Exxon each made deals illegally with the Kurdish Authorities in Arbil. Now, I'm not suggesting that Maliki wasn't also interested in lining his pockets and those of his friends, but it's also true that he wanted that revenue to pay for much needed infrastructure, education, and other budgetary expenses. With tax revenue being what it is in Iraq, oil revenue is essential...to lose billions to the Kurds in the North was unthinkable.
4. Maliki chose to purchase large scale advanced military equipment from Russia. The US certainly does not allow true client states the freedom to make such deals, cutting out Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Northrop-Grumman, etc.
5. Maliki was the primary reason that US troops left Iraq. Liberals will credit Obama, conveniently leaving out the fact that Obama and the Pentagon asked Maliki to let them keep forces there indefinitely, which Maliki refused.
6. Maliki was the target of numerous assassination attempts in the lead up to US withdrawal. I've always contended that these were made with the tacit (or overt) approval of the US, whether to send a message to Maliki not to get too comfortable and independent, or as genuine attempts to create chaos and justify the maintenance of US troops in the country. The attempts failed and the US pulled out. I have no hard evidence to back up this claim of US involvement, just a suspicion I have...naturally, there would be no evidence of that sort of thing.
7. Maliki was also the victim of numerous international propaganda campaigns. Remember that Hashemi, formerly the Iraqi Vice President, was allegedly running an assassination-for-hire ring using his bodyguards as assassins. Now, whether this was true or was simply fabricated by Maliki and Hashemi's political opponents, is still not 100% clear. What is clear however is the fact that, once charged, Hashemi fled the country and into the arms first of Turkey, then Qatar. What does this tell you about the alignment of Hashemi and, conversely, Maliki.
There are many more points I could make, but I'll leave it there for now. The funny thing is, I wrote about a lot of this stuff in my very first article back in 2012. I guess I was a little early...
Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City and the founder of StopImperialism.com. He is a regular contributor to Russia Today, Counterpunch, the Center for Research on Globalization, Press TV, and many other news outlets. Draitser also produces the 'Stop Imperialism' podcast available on iTunes and StopImperialism.com, as well as 'The Reality Principle,' available exclusively at BoilingFrogsPost.com. Visit StopImperialism.com for all his work.