Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Things are in a real state of flux in Iraq right now. I want to let things shake out a bit before making any predictions. It could really go a lot of ways right now.

In the last week Bush has meet with Maliki (sort of?) and King Abdullah.

Yesterday with Abdul Aziz al-Hakin head of the United Iraqi Alliance (and pro-Iranian SCIRI).

Moqtada al-Sadr has left the Shia Alliance and joined with Sunnis in a pro-Iraqi coalition. Though Sadr is responsible for much of hte anti-Sunni violence and death squads. Sadr seems to be following the playbook of Hezbollah's Sheik Hasan Nasrallah. Sadr is trying to bing down the Iraqi government just as Hezbollah is doing in Lebanon.

Secretly in about 2003-2004 I was hoping Sadr would join more strongly with the Sunni insurgency, either kicking the Americans out or giving cover for the Americans to leave. I hoped that would have stopped the push towards the sectarian violence and killing and possible wider regional conflagration. Sadr is probably the most powerful man in Iraq, but I still think this won't work. Bush is so-so on Maliki (hence he meets with al-Hakim who wants his number 2 as PM...Maliki got in because of Sadr...without Sadr, Maliki may fall).

Hakim and Kurdish Prez Jalal Talabani do not want a UN Conference. Maliki today talked about meetings but in Iraq. The Baker-Hamilton Commission comes out tomorrow; Gates is being confirmed as SecDef as we speak. He answered Carl Levin that we are not winning in Iraq.

Joe Lieberman talks every day more and more like he wants to be McCain's VP in 2008. They are the only two calling for more troops (other than the WeeklyStandard and National Review I guess).

All of the questions of less/more, withdraw-redeploy, timelines or benchmarks, I'm not sure whether any of these now connect with the reality on the ground. First it was an insrugency, then sectarian conflict/civil war, it is already moving to stage 3: regional war. And we are providing answers for stage 2, which should have happened six months ago, hell a year ago. When Bush was still on Insurgency (#1).


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