Thursday, March 15, 2007

Iraq's PM Maliki and religous cover

Joseph Loconte picks up on Maliki's speech from last week.
It was all but impossible to find more than a few lines from Maliki's speech quoted in the BBC's media expanse. It was relatively easy, however, to hear commentary about America's much-needed "reversal" in meeting with Iranian and Syrian officials, or the Bush administration's "missing link" of diplomacy in the Middle East, or this latest effort "to break the ice" between the United States, Iran, and Syria.

Maliki rejects the moral relativism that drives this kind of talk. "What has obstructed the economic and political building process in Iraq and has threatened civil peace is the terrorism," he insisted. It was time, he said, to stop giving "religious cover" to the terrorist atrocities that are tearing his society apart. That's a bold charge for a Muslim leader in a region drenched in pious rationalizations for terror. It's also a repudiation of the feckless impulse to blame the United States and/or Israel for all the region's woes (as Jordan's King Abdullah did last week).

The Iraqi prime minister can be faulted for his handling of security issues and failure to politically unite the country's religious factions. Yet he seems to understand the nature and difficulty of his task, a difficulty that is hard to overstate and greatly complicated by daily acts of barbarism. For a few moments last week--moments that surely offended the sensibilities of political and media sophisticates--Maliki reminded the world that America is not the problem in Iraq or in the Middle East. Terrorism is the problem. And it is the reason Iraq is fighting for its life.

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