Saturday, March 10, 2007

Perspective: In Iraq, whispers of soft coup arise

Ayad Allai with bodyguards in Iraq.

BAGHDAD -- Secular former prime minister and U.S. favorite Ayad Allawi is leading a new push to replace the Shiite-led administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with a broad-based government that would focus on restoring order.

Amid deepening concerns among Sunnis and secularists about al-Maliki's performance, Allawi has emerged at the center of an initiative to create a "national salvation front," which his supporters say would be able to secure the backing of Iraqi insurgents, reunite the country and end the sectarian conflict that has prevailed for more than a year.

Though Allawi's aides deny that he wants to replace al-Maliki as prime minister, Allawi is preparing to embark on a tour of the region to win the support of Arab governments for his proposals, just as representatives of Iraq's neighbors are gathering with the U.S. in Baghdad for a regional conference intended to shore up support for the al-Maliki government.

Read the rest at the Chicago Tribune