Michael Ware


TSR: "There is no government here... There's nothing here for America to work with."

Length: 3:35

LARGE (42 MB) ----- SMALL (4.2 MB)

WOLF BLITZER: More bad news for the government of Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister in Iraq. More members of a major political bloc are simply pulling out of his cabinet. This bloc will keep its seats in parliament, but wants nothing, nothing to do with this cabinet of Nuri al-Maliki.

Joining us now from Baghdad, our correspondent, Michael Ware. Michael, at least from this vantage point, it looks like this Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki slowly but surely is falling apart. Some Shia coalition partners are leaving. Sunni partners are leaving.

Big picture -- what's going on?

WARE: Well, Wolf, I mean, really, there's never been an Iraqi government. I mean it's only ever been a so-called entity. It's been an apparition from the beginning, a loose coalition of militias -- most of them, according to Western intelligence, backed by Iran -- jammed together. So, really, there has never been a functioning government here.

It's certainly not delivering services to its people. I mean, it can't even guarantee running water in its capital. It can't provide electricity.

Of Maliki's 37 cabinet ministers, 17 just don't show up for cabinet meetings or are actually boycotting the government. And we now see yet another political bloc, that represented by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, today announcing it, too, has withdrawn.

So, effectively, there's four more ministers gone. Wolf, there is no government here and anyone who says there is either delusional or trying to spin a line. There's nothing here for America to work with.

BLITZER: Yesterday John Warner, the Republican Senator from Virginia, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. has to send a powerful signal to the Iraqi government and announce it's starting to withdraw troops, get some of them home by Christmas, maybe only 5,000.

But on a practical level -- and you've been there four years plus now, Michael -- what happens when U.S. forces move out of an area and say to the Iraqis, you guys take over, you're in charge now?

Practically speaking, what happens?

WARE: Well, that sends a strong signal to the militia factions who own this country in whichever region we're particularly talking about where U.S. forces withdraw that it's game on -- power is yours. I mean that's what's holding this country together are militias. I mean, comparisons to Lebanon in the '80s are not that far off base. So, I'm sorry, but with all respect to Senator Warner, he is absolutely kidding himself if, A, withdrawing 5,000 troops is going to send any kind of a message or, B, that America can withdraw without serious penalty. The strongest message withdrawal like that sends is American defeat. And if you want a clear-cut example of both the power of that message and what happens on the ground, just look at Basra in the South. The Brits have all but been forced to abandon Basra.

And what's happened?

Rival, sparring, brawling Iranian-backed militias have taken over and it's turning into an absolute disaster. That's a glimmer of Iraq's future without American forces.

BLITZER: Pretty depressing information.

Michael Ware, thanks very much for joining us.

WARE: Thanks, Wolf.