Nice Going, Condi

From Holden:

A little grandstanding by the stupidest fucking woman on the planet ignites a civil war within the civil war in Iraq.

Iraq’s dominant Shiite political bloc fractured Sunday when its most powerful faction publicly demanded that the incumbent Shiite prime minister resign over his inability to form a unified government. The split came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Jack Straw, the British foreign minister, paid an urgent visit to Iraqi leaders here to convey in the most forceful terms yet that their patience for the country’s political paralysis was wearing thin.

It was not clear whether the joint visit by Ms. Rice and Mr. Straw, the top emissaries of the two countries that led the invasion of Iraq three years ago, played a direct role in the splintering of the Shiite bloc, and whether that schism would lead to forward movement on forming a new government, which has been stalled for months.

The developments suggested that a new phase in Iraq’s convulsions might have started by opening a possibly violent battle for the country’s top job between rival Shiite factions, which both have militias backing them.


Ms. Rice and Mr. Straw, who came here unannounced in a driving rainstorm from a meeting in England punctuated by antiwar protests, told reporters they did not want to intervene in the dispute over the prime minister. But at the same time they pointed out that Mr. Jaafari had been unable to win enough political support to form a government since his nomination on Feb. 12.

“They’ve got to get a prime minister who can actually form the government,” Ms. Rice said after a meetings with Iraqi leaders — which included a visibly uncomfortable photo session with Mr. Jaafari — inside the Green Zone, the fortified part of Baghdad that houses the Iraqi government and American Embassy. She added, “I told them that a lot of treasure, a lot of human treasure, has been put on the line to give Iraq the chance to have a democratic future.”


Any dispute between the Shiite bloc’s two biggest factions — Mr. Hakim’s party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and the party led by Mr. Sadr — carries with it the possibility of armed violence. The factions are longtime rivals, have backing from Iran and operate militias with members in the Iraqi security forces. Their militias fought street battles last August throughout Baghdad and the south, even hijacking double-decker buses to storm office buildings.