Thursday, November 16, 2006

"Let there be a strongman," say some Iraqis

"It is something ordinary Iraqis say with growing intensity, even as they agree on little else. Let there be a strongman, they say, not a relentless killer like Saddam Hussein but somebody who will take the hammer to the insurgents and the death squads and the kidnappers and the criminal gangs who have banished all pretense of civility from their lives.
. . . The leading candidate for strongman, among secular Iraqis, at least, would be Ayad Allawi, whom the Americans named prime minister in the first post-Hussein government, in 2004. Mr. Allawi, though Shiite, has strong ties with Sunnis, and a reputation as a hard man that goes back to his time as a young Baathist enforcer.
. . . But even if President Bush were convinced that [current Iraqi prime minister] Mr. [Nuri Kamal al-] Maliki should go, it is far from clear that the Americans would have the means to get rid of him." [1]

"While Americans in a faraway land debate their fate, Iraqis have already decided on the cure. The only problem is that there is more than one set of Iraqis. Shiites want their country back. Sunni Arabs want a strongman. They cannot agree." [2]

"Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, is now saying that he wants the United States to stand back and let him use Iraqi forces to restore order. Within six months, he asserts, the bloodletting will cease." [3]

[1] The New York Times. Could a New Strongman Help? November 12, 2006.
[2] The New York Times. The ‘Stay or Leave’ Debate in the U.S. Finds a Mirror in Baghdad. November 16, 2006.
[3] The New York Times. An Iraqi Solution, Vietnam Style. November 21, 2006.

posted: thursday, november 16, 2006, 1:44 PM ET
update: thursday, november 23, 2006, 3:58 PM ET

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