The Al-Basaer newspaper of the Association of Muslim Scholars in its Thursday editorial said Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in one of the most troublesome tight spots he has been in since coming to power.
Titled "Al-Maliki's dilemma between Tehran and Washington," the newspaper said that Maliki is desperately trying to satisfy Iran without losing the support of the United States.
The editorial said that as pressure continues from Washington to sign onto the long-term security agreement set to replace the U.N. mandate governing military operations in Iraq, Maliki and his allies have few choices to consider.
It said that Iran and most of the prominent Shiite parties and movements in Iraq reject the status-of-forces agreement because it will enslave Iraq for decades, if not for centuries.
"It must be acknowledged that Maliki managed to gain time and maneuver his stance, proving he is capable of standing firm to his position in a country plagued with crisis," the opposition newspaper said.
It also said the Iraqi people, facing few alternatives, have turned Maliki's weaknesses into strengths without reaching the goals of national reconciliation, reconstruction or even, at the least, providing for basic local services and security.
The paper then claimed that the opportunity for Maliki to play his game over the interior political climate and regional contradictions is fading away.
Maliki, the paper said, is in a state where he must choose between his old ally and main support, Iran, or his new ally that placed him at the premiership, the United States.
The influential Sunni newspaper said that satisfying the United States means accepting the establishment of 50 permanent military bases, handing over Iraq's oil wealth to American companies, granting amnesty to thousands of U.S. troops and security contractors as well as granting the United States authority over Iraq's land and airspace.
The paper said that among the various Iraqi political blocs opposing the status-of-forces agreement, only the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front supports it because it would deter Iranian influence in Iraq.
The Shiite blocs, however, as well as major resistance groups and the Association of Muslim Scholars, reject the agreement because it violates Iraqi sovereignty.
"The only positive reality of the U.S.-Iraqi agreement is that it showed the true face of the parties involved in the political process, which is an outcome of the U.S. occupation," it said.
The paper called the agreement the "uncovering" tool used to show the hypocrisy of the Sunni Accordance Front and its component, the Islamic Party. The agreement revealed the true identity of the leaders of the Shiite parties who have forgotten they were the ones who existed at the right hand of the United States in the run-up to the invasion.
The U.S. administration did not send thousands of troops to Iraq to "distribute" democracy or "defend" human rights as the United States, throughout its history, has been a major power that does whatever it takes to protect its strategic and economic interests. Nothing else matters, the paper said.
"Former Treasury Secretary Alan Greenspan was close to the truth when he stated that Iraqi oil was one of the main reasons for the U.S. invasion and former White House spokesman Scott McClellan spoke the truth when he said in his latest book that the Bush administration used deceit and lies in order to cover their real objectives in invading and occupying Iraq," the paper said.
The weekly Al-Basaer said the U.S. administration has invested more than $600 billion in Iraq and sacrificed roughly 4,000 U.S. troops and 30,000 casualties.
It said considering that Iraq has more than 350 billion barrels worth of proven oil reserves, these U.S. losses are the price for dominating Iraq and its oil, not the price to defend the human rights of the Iraqis or distribute democracy.
The editorial described as illogical Maliki's attempt to support the Iranian stance against the United States and the U.S. stance against Iran as a means to stay in power.
"Maliki's attempt to compromise a relationship between Iran and the United States is similar to mixing water with oil, or rather, bringing together fuel and fire," the Saudi-based Al-Basaer newspaper concluded.