January 26, 2007


Angry Dispute Erupts Among Iraqi Lawmakers (MARC SANTORA, 1/26/07, NY Times)

Mr. Maliki made his threat to arrest the Sunni lawmaker shortly after promising once again that a crackdown on illegal activity and would be carried out with equal vigor in Shiite as well as Sunni communities.

The prime minister's claim was challenged by Abdul Nasir al-Janabi, who represents a powerful Sunni Arab bloc. "We can not trust the office of the prime minister," he said over jeers from the Shiite politicians before his microphone was cut off.

Mr. Maliki could barely contain his rage, waving his finger in the air and essentially accusing Mr. Nasir of being a criminal.

"I will show you," Mr. Maliki said. "I will turn over the documents on you" showing all your crimes, "then you can talk about trust," Mr. Maliki said.

Shiite politicians in the room erupted in applause.

But Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, the speaker of Parliament and a Sunni Arab, slammed his gavel down and condemned the prime minister and those who applauded.

"That is unacceptable, Mr. Prime Minister," Mr. Mashhadani said over the tumult. "It is unacceptable, Mr. Prime Minister, to make such accusations against a lawmaker under the dome of Parliament."

But Mr. Maliki pressed on. "What about the 150 people kidnapped near al-Bairaat," he said, referring to an area by a lake south of the Baghdad where Mr. Nasir has his base of support.

In an interview after the session, an Iraqi lawmaker asserted that Mr. Nasir's brother had been implicated in the deaths of more than a dozen Shiites who were killed recently as they returned to Iraq from the annual hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, and that this might have been the incident Mr. Maliki was referring to.

As the prime minister continued, Shiites encouraged him on and Sunni Arabs tried to shout him down.

It's haunting how much the demands from the West that Maliki accommodate such Sunni gangs parallel the insistence that Diem play patty-cake with Tri Quang and his "Buddhist" movement.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 26, 2007 8:22 AM

Well, those demanding Westerners want a political solution, which is good. But they only want concessions from one side, so don't seem to know how to negotiate, which is bad.

Posted by: Brandon at January 26, 2007 10:42 AM

Oj: Great idea, connecting the Iraq matter with the lesser Dolchstoss--the sell-out of the praying Vietnamese over the barbecued bonzes.

I wish I'd come up with that.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 26, 2007 12:54 PM