'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Baghdad Coup Rumor Round-Up 

Recently there has been a lot of a talk of a coup d'├ętat unseating Maliki in Iraq. The discourse is confused. Contradictory rumors are being parroted around by lots of blogs; some commentators are naming Allawi as Iraq's post-coup PM, others are not. Sorting things out, as I see it, the rumor stems from three sources:

  • (1) Nibras Kazimi, fellow of the rightwing Hudson Institute, reported two weeks ago that Baghdad envoy Meghan O'Sullivan "has lined up the necessary support to unseat current Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, who would ostensibly be replaced by the former PM Ayad Allawi."
  • Kazimi cites "the DC rumor mill."

  • (2) Juan Cole posted on Thursday that there is chatter among high-level Iraqi bureaucrats in exile that the US is preparing a military coup.

  • (3) On Thursday IraqSlogger's Christina Davidson broke the story that Ayad Allawi is paying a DC lobbying firm, Barbour, Griffith, and Rogers, LLC, $300,000 for "strategic counsel before the US Government, Congress, media and others."

These three items have been swirling together in the blogosphere for the past couple of days in a manner that suggests they are telling the same story, but they aren't. (1) and (2) are contradictory: Juan Cole's bureaucrats are talking about a military coup orchestrated internally by or on behalf of former military personnel who are not part of the current Iraqi military or government. Cole's sources specifically name Ayad Allawi as someone they are not talking about. Kazimi's DC cocktail party chatter suggests the US is attempting to arrange a vote of no confidence against Maliki, which Kazimi judges to be an "amateurish stunt" meant to scare Maliki into playing ball with the Sunnis. Kazimi, however, confuses matters by stating that "[n]o one can pull-off a military coup in Iraq", a nonseqitor given that no one mentioned in his post had been talking about trying.

(1) and (3), however, go together rather nicely. The official version of what Meghan O'Sullivan is currently doing in Iraq, according a five day old Boston Globe article, is arranging "a series of intense, behind-the-scenes meetings with Iraqi politicians" in order to "build enough support for Maliki to maintain control of a majority of seats in parliament", so it's not hard to believe that the exact opposite is the case. However, even if the Globe has it correct, clearly Meghan O'Sullivan is actively dealing with the possibility of Maliki's position becoming untenable -- whether lobbying for or against such a turn of events -- therefore, it makes sense for someone like Allawi to start getting a PR department together if he wants to become Prime Minister. One wonders if Allawi is really paying BGR out of his own pocket as it appears.

That said, Kazimi's statement about the impossibility of a military coup in Iraq is naive and false. Anything is possible when one has billions of dollars to throw around. But such a turn of events doesn't seem very likely in the near future. If the US staged a military coup in Iraq it wouldn't take long for it to come out that the US was behind it. Look at the recent coup attempt in Venezuela: if one cared to, one could read various informed commentators speculating about the extent of US involvement while the attempt to overthrow Chavez was still going on. But this doesn't really matter as long as US propagandists have sufficiently prepared the American people, and to some extent our allies, for the coup before it happens. In this case, such preparation hasn't occurred; at least, not to the degree necessary. There hasn't been enough newspaper stories comparing Maliki to Hitler or about Maliki vacationing with Ahamdinejad to believe a US-backed coup is forthcoming. As Juan Cole states

There is no certitude that this plan can or will be implemented. That it is being discussed at high levels seems highly likely.

The rumors that Cole reported are undoubtedly actual rumors and are undoubtedly accurate to the extent that there are people within the Bush administration talking about a military coup but I don't think that this has much to do with Meghan O'Sullivan playing Lawrence of Arabia. Now Allawi's lobbyists setting up the website www.allawi-for-iraq.com on the other hand: that, I think, has something to do with Meghan O'Sullivan playing Lawrence of Arabia.

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