Sunday, November 18, 2007

Iraq Through the Looking Glass

My first post on this little blog will take a look at where we are in Iraq today. Like many of you, what exactly is happening in Iraq seems a mish -mash of lessoning violence and non-stop propaganda from the Neocons and the Bush Administration. Is the Surge working? Well there is a non-deniable reduction in daily violence in some key areas such as Baghdad. But how much and why?

I'm certainly no expert on insurgency wars but one thing I'm pretty confident about and that is they usually go through periods where lessoning violence gives way to hope for the end of hostilities. Another thing I feel fairly sure of is that unless there is a political reconciliation between the combatants they will surely start fighting again. They may change strategies or allegiances or both, but a continuation of fighting will almost certainly occur.

There is also the perennial question of who is our enemy in Iraq?
The following is an excellent article by Robert Dreyfuss that gives some illumination as to who we are fighting in Iraq.

"We aren't fighting the Shia. The Shia merchant class and elite, organized into the mostly pro-Iranian Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council and the Islamic Dawa party, are part of the Iraqi government that the United States created and supports -- and whose army and police are armed and trained by the United States"

Well, of course this is an obvious point even if not 100 percent true. The Shia from the beginning were smart enough to see the American intervention in Iraq could only benefit them in the long term. Play along with American neocon idealists for forced democratization and the Shia would wind up controlling all the levers of power in Iraq. Even Moqtada Al Sadr wised up and called off his Mehdi army to let this scenario play itself out. So here we are with an intransigent Shiite dominant Iraqi government absolutely unwilling to share resources and power with the Sunni's. No political reconciliation means no peace, even if we're having a current lull in the insurgent civil war.

"And we certainly aren't fighting the Kurds. For decades, the Kurds have been America's (and Israel's) closest allies in Iraq. Since 2003, the three Kurdish-dominated provinces have been relatively peaceful."

The Kurds are our best friends in the Middle East, certainly among Muslim nations, and even rivaling our historic ally Israel. This could change if we allow Turkey to continue threatening Kurdistan with Military incursions.

"We're not exactly fighting Al Qaeda any more either. Despite President Bush's near-frantic efforts to portray the war in Iraq as a last-ditch, Alamo-like stand against Osama bin Laden's army, U.S. commanders on the ground in Iraq are having a hard time finding pockets of Al Qaeda to attack these days, though the group still has the power to conduct deadly attacks now and then. In recent weeks, General David Petraeus, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and other authorities have pretty much declared Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) dead and buried."

Somehow , this has been the most baffling element of the Iraq insurgency and continues to be so. On the one hand, we have General Petraeus and the neocons raving how the surge has all but wiped Iraq clean of Al Quaida. On the other hand, it's obvious that many Sunni's who had welcomed AQ to help fight the American's are turning sour on AQ fanaticism and bloodthirsty ways and seem to be willing to purge them from their territory,

It begs the question is the surge responsible for lessoning attacks from AQ?, or is it the Sunni's who have quashed AQ in their ranks?, or is this a Sunni ruse and AQ in Iraq is just lying low or changing locations and tactics? It's hard to say because the dynamics of AQ in Iraq and the Sunni insurgency as a whole are largely unknown.

A recent AP article seems to indicate that maybe AQ has shifted it's operations to Northern Iraq. Time will tell if AQ in Iraq is really on the ropes, as wingnuts are shouting, or have just taken their bloody bandwagon on the road, like so many times before.

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