Iraq's main political players are running out of time since there is little to show to the U.S. administration in the way of progress - apart from changes of address and titles and the proclamation of a "new coalition," all of which resemble a game of musical chairs. It's clear that the Maliki Government is near the end of the grace period granted by the U.S. Congress.
[Editor's Note: On August 16, confronted by a mass of Sunni and Shiite defections from the governing coalition, the Maliki government announced a "new alliance" between moderate Shiite Muslims and Kurds [no Sunnis] after intensive negotiations in Baghdad. The tenuous coalition does command a majority of Iraq's 275-seat legislature].
The new coalition is anything but new. In fact for the most part, it's just a rearrangement of factions that have already reduced Iraq to ruin. Indeed, the members of this new coalition are at the root of Iraq's dilapidated political process. If they really wanted to resuscitate the process, they would have to bring in new elements rather than moving the same old chairs around the same old rooms inside the U.S. Green Zone, quite apart from the 27 million Iraqis who suffer the fallout from the sectarian policies adopted by these very same parties.
Unwittingly, perhaps the signers of this proclamation have dealt the first real blow to the political process they themselves have ruined. They gathered together, enfeebled and with limited options, to denounce in a roundabout way their self-created political fiasco and failure to achieve results. And they have revealed themselves to Iraqis as a tiny group of people without allies, forced to acknowledge that their former political partners will no longer associate with them.
The political confusion of this old-new political coalition may be all the confirmation the Americans need to bring about a withdrawal of U.S. forces over the next two years. It has become apparent that there's no point in maintaining an international combat coalition in Iraq, since it's now clear that Iraqi resistance to the occupation is nearly unanimous and the flawed policies pursued for the past five years have damaged U.S. influence throughout the Arab world - thereby exacerbating an already complex situation.
This new coalition, which has coalesced for the purpose of providing support to a political process that the Americans more than anyone else know to be paralyzed and a failure - is really a formal endorsement for the conflict to continue until a non-sectarian, non-ethnic bloc can finally emerge.
Vigorous planning for an American withdrawal can be read between the lines of the new coalition's declaration, which is comprised of contradictory policies and schemes that are destined to do serious damage to those proposing them and those who will follow.