Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi voiced his approval for the diplomatic efforts of Colin Powell to bring together a coalition of Muslim nations to provide security for Iraq, especially for a UN delegation to oversee elections in the winter:
Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi called on Arab and Muslim nations on Thursday to join a proposed force of Islamic troops in Iraq that the United States said could provide protection to the United Nations.
Allawi and Secretary of State Colin Powell met in Saudi Arabia and embraced a Saudi proposal for Muslim nations other than Iraq’s immediate neighbors to contribute troops to help secure Iraq in the face of a fierce insurgency.
No one doubts the brief analysis at the end by Reuters that such a coalition could boost the Bush administration’s standing in global diplomacy, which is one of the reasons I think that the Islamic nations will give this a pass. However, I wonder why Allawi is so sanguine about letting other Arab mullhacracies and kleptocracies into Iraq. It seems like an inordinate risk, which is why Powell and Allawi propose limiting their scope to UN security, at least at first.
Why would the other Islamic nations agree to the task? None of them, with the exception of Turkey, promote democracy at home and probably fear that a successful transition to democracy in Iraq could destabilize their own regimes. Turkey can’t participate anyway due to tensions with the Kurds; it would spark riots and worse in western Iraq. The only motivations would be that ignoring Iraq and allowing it to dissolve into chaos would be even more destabilizing, and that Allawi’s invitation gives them an opening to plant boots on the ground to increase their intelligence assets and connections to groups that want to kill democracy in its tracks. Since the former doesn’t appear to be happening — the violence is sporadic and no longer strategic in nature — I assume the latter would provide the only incentive.
Allawi needs to reach out to Islamic nations in order to maintain his position in Iraq, where I would presume any politician that excludes contacts with Muslims in preference to those outside the Ummah would not have a long career. He has been rather successful in establishing diplomatic relations with most of them within a short period of time, and Jordan had even offered to send troops, if invited (but they are not part of this effort, which specifically excludes bordering states). However, Allawi should tread very carefully; having armed men from countries like Saudi Arabia patrolling the streets sounds an awful lot like what he has now in Fallujah. The question would be whether they would fight the foreigners in Fallujah or join with them.