The Circle of Life

Determined to wade ever-further into the analytical fog, Bush is going to be meeting with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim to try and build ties with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. The idea here is to reduce the influence of Muqtada al-Sadr. Sadr is influential, in part, because Nouri al-Maliki of the Dawa party was dependent on Sadrist support to obtain the Prime Ministership. SCIRI and Dawa together would be able to govern -- in formal parliamentary terms -- without Sadrist support, so were SCIRI to be brought behind Maliki, or were Maliki to be replaced with some other figure who enjoyed SCIRI and Dawa support, then Sadr's power would be checked. Maybe.

It's worth recalling, however, how we got to this position in the first place. After all, under Ibrahim Jafari we already had a SCIRI/Dawa coalition in power that limited Sadrist influence over the government. The price Jafari had to pay for SCIRI support was SCIRI control of the interior ministry. In the wake of the election, Zalmay Khalilzad decided to work to get Jafari out of office and SCIRI out of control of the interior ministry. The solution was Maliki, and, at the time, David Ignatius channeling Khalilzad informed us that "The most important fact about Maliki's election is that it's a modest declaration of independence from Iran."

Now we're going back 'round the loop again. Bush keeps shuffling the deck, but the cards he's looking for don't exist.