Michael Ware


TSR: "There is no...single political figure who has even the vaguest prospect of unifying this country."

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WOLF BLITZER: The report, by the way, puts even more pressure on Iraq's prime minister. He's already embattled for failing to unify Iraq's deeply fractured sectarian and ethnic communities. And that's caused some to call for his ouster.

And joining us now, our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware -- Michael, who takes over in Iraq if Nouri al-Maliki should go?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's truly a plaguing question, Wolf, because to be honest, there's no immediate candidates. I mean, to use an example from Afghanistan, there is no Hamid Karzai waiting in the wings, as a single political figure who has even the vaguest prospect of unifying this country.

Indeed, let's bear in mind, Wolf, Nouri al-Maliki was not the answer either. He was the compromise candidate of all compromise candidates, with very little support from anyone and absolutely no power. So even he wasn't a solution.

Now, there are a number of people who are out there on the fringes trying to jockey and maneuver. And, of course, Iraq's neighbors -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan -- they're also providing support to some of these potential candidates.

So, really, the question is after Maliki, what happens?

If he goes, will he go constitutionally by, say, a no confidence vote in the parliament? Or is it going to be a non-constitutional upheaval, like a coup d'etat? Or, as former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi calls for, an emergency government?

That will be one of the things that determines who might lead next. But, honestly, America has to pick one of the horses in the race and back it, because Iran certainly will be doing the same.

BLITZER: I don't know about you, but I keep hearing suggestions from some influential elements out there that what Iraq really needs is a strongman, someone not necessarily like Saddam Hussein who was a thug and a killer, but someone, let's say, like a Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan or a Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Forget about democracy for the time being, but get someone who is pro-American, pro-West, but at the same time can get tough and crack down on what's going on there.

What's your sense of that?

WARE: Well, look, Wolf, you know, what we're talking about here is essentially what's dubbed '"the Musharraf option," precisely what you're talking about, putting a strongman in place.

Now, this is something that has been talked about and mooted since even before the invasion. It's now known that that was the CIA's preferred option for regime change. They said "coup d'etat. Cut off the head, put in our own guy and then cut out the cancer of the Iraqi Baathist apparatus as we go."

I certainly know very influential special forces commanders and other leading generals here in the country who have been pushing for solutions just like that since way back in 2004.

Now, coupled with that, coupled with that -- a period of, say, an emergency government with a quasi-democracy or a constitution not abandoned, but merely suspended until this place can hold itself together and blunt the Iranian interference -- to go with that must be an empowerment of the tribes. Now, it's a very famous line, but back in 2003, the U.S. administration here blithely, glibly said that the tribes have no future in the new Iraq.

Well, how wrong they have been. The tribes are vitally needed to rebuild this country and support whoever can really control this place and keep it an ally of America, as opposed to the mess and the almost anti-American shemozzle* that it currently is.

*(shemozzle is used in Australian sports to describe a confused mess on the field)

BLITZER: Michael Ware reporting for us from Baghdad.

Michael, thanks.

WARE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York.

You know, you've got a book coming out. He should write a book, too, don't you think?

JACK CAFFERTY, THE CAFFERTY FILE: I don't even want to follow him. I mean he's so good, I feel like just going in my office now and closing the door. I'll wait until 7:00.

He's magnificent. I love listening to his stuff.