A drive to oust al-Maliki?

He's the "right guy for Iraq," after all.

By Tim Grieve
Published December 11, 2006 1:54PM (EST)

When George W. Bush declared Nouri al-Maliki "the right guy for Iraq," the Iraqi prime minister probably should have seen this coming: As the Associated Press reports, "major partners" in Iraq's governing coalition are angling to oust al-Maliki as prime minister.

The AP doesn't come right out and say that the Bush administration is pushing for al-Maliki's ouster, but it does take note of the fingerprints that seem to be there. The administration has criticized al-Maliki for not doing enough to stop sectarian violence in his country. The leader of the new alliance -- but probably not the next prime minister -- is likely to be Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who met with Bush last week in Washington. And, as the AP says, another "key figure" in the alliance, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, will meet with Bush Tuesday -- three weeks before he was originally scheduled to do so.

An aide to al-Maliki tells the AP: "We know what's going on, and we will sabotage it." Maybe that's right -- it wouldn't take much to "sabotage" much of what the Bush administration has done in Iraq -- but is anyone else seeing the inevitable White House logic on this? Blame al-Maliki for all of Iraq's woes, prop up someone else in his place, then declare that the new government is going to need more time to stand up. Remember: The only way to lose is to quit before the job is done.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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