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13 May 2006


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yeah, well, did you read the one about the fight that broke out over a shia ringtone -- and this was among PARLIAMENTARIANS:

Shia ringtone sparks scuffle in Iraqi parliament
By Sam Knight and agencies

The fragile state of the sectarian divide in Iraqi politics was exposed today when a fight broke out in parliament after a mobile phone ringtone played a Shia Muslim chant.

A procedural session of the Iraqi parliament was suspended as Shia and Sunni leaders stormed out to protest the ringtone and the subsequent scuffle, which erupted between the armed bodyguards of the Sunni speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani and the hardline Shia politician, Gufran al-Saidi.



Having Kurds stand up while US troops stand down in Balad was always likely to cause problems, they're even less welcome than US troops. They were sent there to support a local Shi'ite battalion and it seems now they are fighting with them as well as the local Sunnis.


Things are not good when formidable ex-Peshmerga fighters fear to leave their base.

The Kurds refuse to have non-Kurdish Iraqi Army troops on their territory. There have been reports of new Iraqi army units disbanding on hearing they'd be deployed in hostile territory rather than defending their own. I can't say I blame them; in a shattered country of clan loyalties a prudent man sticks to his own.

W. Patrick Lang


Couldn't agree more. pl


We saw what happened in the Balkans after Tito. As Bush Sr. wrote in his book the reasons why he did not overthrow Saddam have now all come to pass.

The Kurds are on the path to secession. Talabani and Barzani are putting their differences away and now have a unified government. They also have US and Israeli support (political and military). It will be interesting to see how they go about annexing Kirkuk and the surrounding oil resources. And the response of the Arab Iraqi's, Turkey and Iran.

Since ideas of Iraq's partition on ethnic lines are making the DC circuit it possibly could be the last act of the US as they consolidate in bases in Sunnistan and Kurdistan. While the Shiastan has an open border policy with Iran.

W. Patrick Lang


"the US as they consolidate in bases in Sunnistan and Kurdistan."

The Kurdistan thingy I can see as a possibility, but how do you think we would accomplish the Sunnistan part of your statement? such places would be permanently besieged. pl


PL, my speculation is that the Sunni's will hate the Shia more than us and egged on by the Saudi's will decide that it is in their interests to have a protective US military presence. Of course this is pure arm chair pontification with no basis in fact.

W. Patrick Lang


Interestng... and plausible. pl

Babak Makkinejad

We will not see a stable Iraq for 2 generations. But Iraq will never ever again be as strong a centralized state as it was under the Ba'ath; the ideology and the money is no longer there. The best thing that can be accomplished is a rickety state like Lebeanon.


American bases in an independant Kurdistan? Now that will have then jumping for joy in Ankara, won't it? I can see it now, the Turks doing nothing while the PPK separitists had a free reign to launch murder raids into the Turkish Republic. Nah, my imagination isn't good enough for that. How about a sealed border with a 250,000 Turkish troops ready to stomp on the Kurds at the first opportunity. No air links, no rail links, no oil pipline, no nothing. Of course the new Kurdish satraps could try and export/import through Syria except for the unfortunate fact that the Syrians consider the Kurds to be American puppets. Not very likely. This leaves the possibility of a running the lines of communication through the Arab Sunni fighters in the Anbar. Good luck with that. Last but not least, if the Kurds ask real nice, maybe the Iranians will let them supply themselves and the American occupation troops through Iranian territory. Sure.Bound to happen.
Any American bases in Kurdistan could all to easily be death traps for us.
As for the rest, the Shia have no reason to accept partition and neither do their Iranian backers.The want all of Iraq and they intend to get it. If we try and switch horses in mid Imperial adventure, the Shia will start shooting at us seriously and there are a lot more Shia than Sunni and they have Iranian money, men, and weapons to call upon.
We are beaten. The sooner we accept that the better for everyone, particularly ourselves.

Tom Griffin

It will be interesting to see how they go about annexing Kirkuk and the surrounding oil resources.

One thing that has worried me for some time, is that some of the businessmen who have received Kurdish oil concessions have a long track record in Africa, of hiring mercenaries out to weak regimes in order to win control of resource deposits which are then handed over to those same businessmen.
Some of the mercenaries they hired in the 90s are now running major PMCs in Iraq.
I'm not sure the African business model would work there, but I wouldn't put it past them to try.


I suspect the new 'Iraqi' army is a case of giving military training to participant in the future Iraqi civil war. And it's an army that is supposed to maintain Iraqi territorial integrity without heavy armour or an airforce.

It will be very interesting to see how far turkey are villing to go to stop a strong kurdish state emerging with it's cousins in turkey, syria and iran looking to it. In many ways turkey seems to heading for a position as the key state in the region.


The best thing that can be accomplished is a rickety state like Lebeanon

With Iran as the new Syria?


once we bail, the whole thing will collapse since we prop all of them. They are not institution/organisation that arise naturally from the Iraqi people.

we select, we train, we pay, and we protect them.

For all I know, they just in it for the wage.

Can't fake nationalism. At least things are calming down a little.

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