Saturday, May 20, 2006

Iraqi government named

Today, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government was confirmed by the national assembly, except for the crucial interior and defense appointees. As a temporary measure, the Iraqis finessed this by having al-Maliki will hold the interior while his two deputy prime ministers, one a Sunni, the other a Kurd, will be acting defense minister and minister of state for national security.

Most of the stories today focused on the continuing violence rather than the great acheivement of al-Maliki and his partners, but this is a giant step in the right direction. For a far more realistic view of Iraq's progress, read this excellent article by Amir Taheri, "The Real Iraq". His take on things correspond with what I've heard from my sources on the ground there. I remain cautiously optomistic...but wonder whether all the money and lives the US has expended in Iraq will get us an ally of merely a polite `thank you very much and go away so we can merge with our Muslim brothers now.'

Time will tell.

Al Maliki and his cabinet will serve for four years under Iraq's current constitution.

Maliki pledged to bring "a solid determination and invincible iron will" to unify Iraqis against the perpetrators of violence and said he would set a timetable under which Iraqi forces would take over from U.S. troops and their allies.

"What happened in the assembly represents the end of Iraq's political transition that began in April 2003 from the American administration under occupation, to a democratically elected Iraqi government," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said. "We have a lot at stake in terms of Iraq's success. That's no secret."

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