Sunday, August 20, 2006

Iraqi Civil War

A disturbing (and informative) article from Kenneth Pollack and Daniel Byman on how to contain--if it is possible--the Iraqi Civil War.

Further proof of their assertion here: Shia continue to be attacked at religious sites, on pilgrimage.

Kenneth Pollack was an aggressive supporter of the claim that Saddam Hussein held the capacity (or would soon gain) to create and deploy WMD. He called for an invasion in 2002.

So one can take that piece of information when judging his op-ed and form his/her opinion. Either A)he's wrong again and there isn't a Civil War. Or B)If the people who were in favor of the war and believed Saddam had weapons are now saying yes there is a civil war and we need to think right now about how to contain it/stop a regional war from spreading, then it has become that horrific there, that truly disturbing.

I hold the latter view sadly. I believe that there was a Civil War, by whatever defintion, from the moment Saddam's regime collapsed. The US did not bring sufficient troop strength and power devoled to local levels, where it has resided ever since, and the creation of an Iraqi while beautiful in many ways, was doomed for the get-go bc it could never handle security, never had any real influence--except via the militias--on the local level.

And what's worse the US plan to create an Iraqi army/police became in the minds of the Sunnis--who didn't participate recall--a further wedge against them. The Iraqi regular units often beame nothing more than fronts for Shia militias. Joining those groups was the only opportunity afforded many poor Shia.

The creation of this force only further inflamed the ethnic hatreds. The US had been so focused on the insurgency against itself, it missed the split within the Iraqi ranks along sectarian lines. What used to be called the Sunni insurgency is essentially now the Sunni defense militia.

Our eye has been off events in Iraq due to the Lebanon/Israeli conflict. But as the authors note, more people died in the last month in Iraq then in all the fighting in Lebanon. Basically, though hard to get an exact figure, 100 people are dying a die in Iraq. That's 3,000 a month. Added curfews in Baghdad are not going to stop this.

Perhaps most worrisome immediately is the fact that Turkey continues to amass troops on its border with Kurdistan. As I said before, I think the only way to diffuse that growing situation is to get the EU/US to tell Turkey it's entrance to the EU is predicated on acceptance of the (soon to be) Kurdish state. Which of course would require much pressure put on the Europeans to let Turkey in.

Sunni tribesmen in the Western Iraqi provinces have strong ties with their relatives across the borders in Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. I'm very worried we will see a growing uptick of fighters coming across to aid their cousins.

And Iran's influence in S.Iraq grows stronger every day.

Frighteningly this administration shows no signs of realizing this serious threat of regional war. Of spillover from the Iraqi Civil into any number of places within the Middle East. And of further Shia/Sunni conflict spreading to other countries.


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