A summer of change in Iraq

Scott Sadler Contributor
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It appears that the certification of election results in Iraq is looming. Barring any additional roadblocks, the vote will be qualified in the coming days. Nearly three months after the Iraqi people went to the polls, is there light at the end of the tunnel? To hear Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, you’d think that everything is fine and dandy. Mr. Maliki acknowledged to the Washington Post that “violence exists, but not because the government has not been formed.” Oh really? How much longer do the people of Iraq have to wait?

While Mr. Maliki pushes to keep his power, the insurgency is growing bolder. Earlier this week, a Sunni lawmaker was murdered at his home in the northern city of Mosul. He was a member of Iraqiyoon, a Sunni party within the Iraqiya coalition of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. A spokesman for Iraqiyoon blamed the government “because it is slack in doing its duty to protect the lawmakers of Iraqiya.” Mr. Allawi was equally shaken at the shooting. He is also irritated with the slow process of forming a government and warned the current government that it would be “a very dangerous scenario if there is a government without” his party. The United States concurs. “The Sunnis need to be an organic part of this government. They need to be able to play a substantial role befitting the results of the election,” Ambassador Christopher Hill said.

All of this as the U.S. continues preparations to substantially decrease their footprint by the end of the summer. “It’s going to be painful; there’s going to be ups and downs. But I do think the end result is going to be that we’re going to be able to keep our commitment,” Vice President Biden told the Post on Wednesday. According to the Post, “White House officials say Iraqis are increasingly relying on politics, rather than violence, to deal with disputes, diminishing the need for U.S. forces.”

Mr. Biden also made it clear that “this is not draw down and draw out; this is draw down the military, ramp up the civilian intercourse with the Iraqis.” If the United States are “partners in this new reality”, as Mr. Maliki recently stated, than it’s time to stop with the delays and get on with the business of forming a government. “They gave more than 4,000 of their soldiers and spent huge amounts of funds in Iraq,” the Prime Minister said. With Memorial Day on Monday, Mr. Maliki would do well to remember that line when he’s playing politics on the backs of not only U.S. Soldiers but the men and women of Iraq who have fought, and are still fighting, for a taste of democracy and freedom.

Scott Sadler is an experienced communicator with an in-depth expertise with crisis communications who has served in senior level positions in the federal government, Capitol Hill, and in a military theater of operation.