Maybe Israel and Iraq ain’t that different

Foreign Policy’s The Cable blog perhaps doesn’t realise that its reference to Israeli politics is very revealing. This isn’t just about a comparison to Israeli politics but a belief that somebody like Tzipi Livni is essentially sharing the same message as current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Different rhetoric, same belief in Zionist exceptionalism.

Maybe Iraq isn’t that different; another Middle East, American client state:

The U.S. government is coming around to the realization that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, or at least his political bloc, will come out on top and form the next Iraqi government.

It’s true that the more secular “Iraqi” alliance led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi won more seats in the parliamentary elections. But since Maliki’s State of Law coalition formally joined with the Iraqi National Alliance, which includes radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, administration and embassy officials are anticipating that Allawi will not be able to take a shot at forming a government, and the Maliki-Sadr alliance will come out on top.

“In Baghdad, they are calling Allawi the Iraqi Tzipi Livni,” said one official source, referring to the Israeli Kadima Party leader, whose party won the most seats in Israel’s 2009 elections but was then relegated to the opposition via a similar maneuver by right-wing parties.

Maliki might not ultimately stay on as prime minister because the Sadrists really dislike him, but he is the leading contender and has been at the center of the campaign to alter the outcome by mounting challenges to Allawi’s candidates and calling for massive recounts.

Embassy officials in Baghdad have been heavily engaged with all the political leaders since the election ended and the wrangling for power began. U.S. Ambassador Chris Hill and his team have been holding more than two dozen meetings per week with Iraqi leaders, pressing them to abide by agreed-upon political processes and move forward with the formation of the government before everyone gets too restless.

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