Sunday, December 24, 2006

Why presume to know Iraqi politics?

Clearly the US leadership has no idea what is going on politically in Iraq. Heck, the leading senator on the intelligence committee didn't even know that Hezbollah was Shiite and Iranian-backed, while Al Qaeda is a fundamentalist Sunni Muslim group. That would be like someone having tried to broker a ceasefire in Ireland without knowing the difference between Catholic and Protestant.

The question I have, given the obvious ignorance of our leadership, is why do they continue to try to formulate their own solutions for the problems of Iraqis? The latest bad idea involved a really strange mix of secular Sunni Iraqis, fundamentalist Iranian-backed Shia, and Kurds. Basically, the three groups in Iraq most at odds with each other. The whole idea was to isolate Muqtada al Sadr, a nationalist local Shiite leader, who is a "cause" of some of the problems in Iraq. The plan was submitted to the leading Shiite leader, the Ayatollah Sistani, and Sistani rejected it flat out; not so surprising: Link.

There was an opportunity after the invasion to get things rolling in the right direction. That opportunity has long since been missed by our leadership (including "the greatest secretary of defense in American history", according to Dick Cheney). I said it recently, and I'll say it again. There is no putting a lid on this violence. Bush can send all the troops he wants; every faction in Iraq now knows that America's days in Iraq our numbered - till 2008 at most; I can pretty much guarentee nobody is going to fold to our bluff.

America cannot stabilize Iraq - only Iraqis can do that. At this point, we better start deciding who our real enemies are, and pick our allies accordingly. Our two main enemies are Al Qaeda, first and foremost, and Iranian-backed Shia fundamentalists (SCIRI/Badr), to a slightly lesser extent. We should be backing the secular Sunnis, as they oppose both of these. And we should be backing Al Sadr. He isn't our enemy, he is a nationalist. He opposes America because we occupy his country, not because of who we are. He would fight Iran just as quickly, had they occupied his country.

I am many things; a pessimist is not one of them. But the new path that we have chosen in Iraq, is not going to work.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oops, did I say cold war?

Juan Cole seems to think it will be a hot one. Hes probably right. The proxy will start in Iraq, but might take a more destructive turn soon after. Heres hoping neither nation is nuclear armed when that happens.

Look for an Israel/Arab peace in the near future. The Sunni Arabs seem to think their real enemies are Iranians and Shiites; Israel is a powerful ally to gain in that battle.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Betrayal is hard to forget.

Iraqi President Jalal Talabani condemned the report by the Iraq Study Group released by the US government:

"We can smell the attitude of James Baker in 1991 when he liberated Kuwait but left Saddam in power."

Then, Bush Senior had encouraged Iraqis to rise up against Saddam, which they did. The rebelling Shias and Kurds took over 14 or so of 17 provinces. And then the good Saudi King called up Bush and expressed 'concerns' with having a Shia-Muslim dominated neighbor. So instead of supporting Shia and Kurdish rebels against Saddam's tanks and helicopters, Bush did nothing. And the rebels were massacred, hundreds of thousands of them. It would have been like stopping at the borders of Germany in 1945 instead of finishing the job.

Who knows; maybe Bush was right not to get involved. Maybe there was no exit strategy. Regardless, if nothing else we should at least guarentee the Kurds that we will see them through to the end; that they will either have a stable Iraq or an independent Kurdistan. And as I've said before, we haven't won but neither has anyone else. We need a change of strategy, as the mass occupation isn't working, but that doesn't mean we should leave the country altogether or give up on the whole thing.

Link to all of Talabani's statements.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A New Cold War

A Saudi advisor writes:

"because King Abdullah...gave President Bush his word that he wouldn't meddle in Iraq, these requests (to intervene against Iranian influence) have all been refused. They will, however, be heeded if American troops begin a phased withdrawal from Iraq. As the economic powerhouse of the Middle East, the birthplace of Islam and the de facto leader of the world's Sunni community (which comprises 85 percent of all Muslims), Saudi Arabia has both the means and the religious responsibility to intervene."

I'd write more but my life is absolutely god aweful right now.