Thursday, November 30, 2006

Iraqi Exiles

A great piece on OpenSourceRadio on a very little covered story in Iraq--the massive refugee crisis and exodus to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran.

The piece interviews an Iraqi refugee who blogs here. It is truly heartbreaking to hear her story of fleeing to Jordan.

Nir Rosen, author of the best book on Iraq (in English) on the situation on the ground in Iraq is interviewed. His analysis is quite bleak and has been since the beginning.

Something like 8-10% of Iraq has left since the war (that would be in American terms 25-30 million fleeing the US in 3/4 years).

The richest have left long ago and the exodus now is more middle class. The US it seems has been putting influence to not call these groups refugees. Therefore they have no refugee camps, rights, or international advocacy in their new countries.

These groups may become radicalized due to lack of food, water, education, and job opportunities. Rosen calls them a new nation of Palestinians who won't really ever be able to return to Iraq. He sees these groups as people who "won't forget." Don't know what I think about this assertion but extremely dark if true. What I do think likely is they could form a fedayeen fighters based out of Jordan, if not Syria, who will continue to attack the Iraqi (soon to be Shia) government.

And that exodus is only perhaps half of the displacement. The other half is internal displacement. Neighborhoods are being cleansed and have been since the fall of Saddam. Shias fleeing to the Eastern Baghdad neighborhoods and the South; the Sunnis to W. Baghdad and Anbar. Christians are targeted, Turkomens, Iraqi Shia who supported the Baath party, secular types, anyway with money, Shia, Sunni, whatever.

Criminality, sectarian death squads, insurgency, occupation army. As one American soldier in Basra said, This is a war between gangs and we (the American army) are just the biggest gang. The US Army estimates something like 40-50 people are kidnapped daily, the ransom money helping to fund the insurgency and militias.

The key is none of these groups can win and can not topple the central government as long as the American stays. But their existence stops the US and the cetnral government from ever gaining control either.

As Newsweek has said Moqtada al-Sadr is perhaps the single most powerful man in the country. But even he can not control even his own militia, which nevertheless has exploded recentliy. Sadr's Mahdi Army now comprises 40-60,000 people. The Iraqi Army (battle ready to fight without the US battalions) is 10,000.

It is not a civil war in the traditional sense between two armies. The key issue is the devolution of power to the local (Global Guerillas), their ability to self-finance through global black market. There are wars within wars within wars within conflicts within Iraq.


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