Sunday, September 2, 2007

Clowns To The Left, Jokers To The Right

There has been a subtle change going on in Iraq for the last couple of months. The change has been so subtle you may have missed it. In an effort to position itself in the event of a withdrawal from Iraq, this administration has been arming the Sunnis as they are also arming the Shiite government. Why would we be arming the Sunnis you might ask, aren’t they suppose to be the insurgents and Baathists? Yes, they are, but in the event that our current policy fails, it seems like the answer will be to arm all parties and keep Iraq destabilized for any foreseeable future.

How could this strategy benefit the Neo-Cons? The administration is convinced and with good reason that Iran is positioning itself to be a major power broker in Iraq whenever we leave. The thought of having another Shia led country in the region under Iranian influence has the Sunni led countries many of whom are our allies (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan) a bit nervous.

The strategy appears to work like this; we arm the Saudis and Israel to the teeth and under the guise of arming the loyal tribesmen of Iraq we are arming the local Sunnis. Then of course there are all those missing weapons (190,000), just what a civil war needs is 190,000 unaccounted for weapons. My guess is that the plan is to ensure the Sunnis will be a thorn in the side of any central government until the Neo-Cons can come up with a new strategy or figure out a way to blame the failure on you peace-loving anti-war communists. This is part of the scorched earth fall-back plan, if you can’t win destabilize. Basically you’ll have the Saudis on one side and the Iranians on the other, fighting a proxy war for Iraq on our behalf and with our arms.

How awful it must be when your best strategy is to stoke the fires of sectarianism and arm both sides in a bloody civil war. This of course would prevent al Qaeda from setting up a base of operations and at the same time prevent the Iranians from setting up a client state. Throw into this mix the Kurdish rebels in the north attacking the Turks and you have the recipe for a successful conclusion to the invasion of Iraq. We are going to once again find ourselves in the middle of two warring factions playing both sides against the middle and pretending to be an objective arbitrator.

Now, there is even talk of bringing the ex-Prime Minister Allawi back for a second tour. Mr. Allawi an ex-Baathist and a secular Shia would play the role of strongman to offset the sectarian influence of the current government. The administration is becoming frustrated with the lack of progress of the current government, with many believing that PM al Maliki is too weak and too sectarian to resolve the current stalemate. With the surge in full effect the talk of political breathing room for this current Iraqi government is losing steam. PM al Maliki has made it clear recently in the press that he does not feel bound by any American benchmarks and is attempting to exert some independence from what is perceived as American pressure. Just how long the PM can holdout is up for debate, with defections from his coalition government occurring almost weekly he will be hard pressed to produce enough of a majority to appoint dog catchers in Baghdad let alone attack the issues that are currently dividing the country and fueling the insurgency.

There has been a lot of talk recently about the success or lack of success of the surge and what the ramifications will be in September. One’s position on the surge will of course depend on what that person’s goal happens to be. From a military standpoint the surge has managed to curb some of the violence in Baghdad, but this has only caused the violence to move. It should come as no surprise that increasing the troops would increase the security. I remember at the beginning of this fiasco a certain General Shinseki who stated the following:

Shinseki, who commanded the NATO peacekeeping force in Bosnia, testified in Congress in February 2003 that peacekeeping operations in Iraq could require several hundred thousand troops, in part because it was a country with "the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems."[1]

So, it was known from the beginning that an increase in troop presence would increase security, but what was the reason for the surge? A military victory was not and is not the purpose of the surge. The surge was to provide cover for the current Iraqi regime to unite behind reconciliation for the entire country. Well, this has been a disaster to all no matter what side of the issue they are on. So how anybody can come in September and claim success will be a mystery to me.

At the current time all we are is a buffer for all sides. We are giving all the players a chance to train and arm themselves for the upcoming battle for Iraq. We are the arms dealer and training facilitator for the Sunnis, Kurds, and the Shiites. Currently, we are showing loyalty to no one beyond our own failed policy. It is no longer about accomplishing the possible; it is about supporting the foolish. We have no one we can trust on any side and we are stuck in the middle of a further escalating crisis.


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