Apparently it’s “all Iraq, all the time” day here at Mother Jones. Nevertheless, I stumbled on a few backgrounders from the Council on Foreign Relations that provide as good a look as any on the new government and what we can expect in the coming months in Iraq:
Backgrounder on new Shiite prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaaferi. Interestingly, Shiite scholar Faleh Jabar claims that Jaaferi tried to keep his political organization, al-Daawa, independent from the Iranian government during the group’s exile there in the 1980s and 90s. This despite “tremendous Iranian pressure.” But links between Daawa and Iran are still “murky.” Also, experts disagree on whether Jaaferi will be able to forge compromises between Iraq’s different ethnic/sectarian groups, or whether his government will be too weak to form a consensus.
Backgrounder on the transitional government. Note that the National Assembly is supposed to draft Iraq’s new constitution by August 15th. The new president, Jalal Talabani, claims that they’ll get it done by then, but given how long it took just to form a new government, odds are they’ll have to ask for an extension.
Backgrounder on de-Baathification. Interestingly, most Western scholars quoted are against a widespread purge of Baathists, most of whom are Sunnis, from the government. But the Shiites and Kurds now in charge are hinting at taking strong anti-Baath measures, not only to remove the thousands of ex-Baathists currently in government, but banning any former Baath Party member from ever taking high-ranking political or military jobs again. The problem here is that a lot of those disgruntled former military officers and ministry employees could end up taking their knowledge and going to play with the Sunni insurgency. That’s what happened after the original Baath purges, under Paul Bremer in 2003.