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03 December 2006


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John in LA

When the sects in Iraq complete their physical disengagement, per Yugoslavia, the real war will start.

Difficult to understand how badly the Bush admin, and Israel (stunning lack of comprehension for a local power) misunderstood.

It could be as bad as this:

The Turks will invade Kurdistan and obliterate the place. That war will be waged on the streets of Berlin, where thousands of Kurds and Turks live and hate each other.

Iran will manipulate the mintority Shite Alawi- and its weak, Kim-Il Jong style son-dictator into creating a Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut power axis.

There will be a revolution in Bahrain that brings the Shia to power and sees the local Sunni Sheikh/thieves that run the place flee to Saudi Arabia.

The Palestinians will behead the "King" of "Jordan" and forge an alliance with the Shia axis to create a fundamentalist Palestinian State extending from Amman to Gaza.

The Sunni Jihadis will overthrow the weak, old, toothless sheikhs and declare an Al Qaeda government in Saudi Arabia.

Someone puts a bullet in Musharraf and a) declares a Sunni fundamentalist nuclear power in a new Pakistan-Afghanistan Federation b)triggers an Indian-Iran nuclear alliance and c) (who knows? regional nuclear war)?

Net-net...go long Hydrogen!

4 billion

"The peace of Westphalia" thats old Europe!

Although, as a victim of Calvanism, I can see some merit in questioning some of its tenets.


The US supports the Sunnis in Lebanon against the Shia and the Shia in Iraq against the Sunnis. Has anyone explained to Bush that Sunni and Shia in the Arab world don't see national boundaries in secterian alliegance?

I agree with Babak. Obviously the Saudis claiming that such a policy "might" force them to give all possible assistance to the the insurgents is a bluff. The insurgency ran out of cash long ago and has become an off-shoot of the far more criminal Al-Qaida lot. The Saudis are probably more worried about them then they are Iran, simply because so many of them are Saudi and no one really knows how high up the Saudi royal family Al-Qaida support really goes.

But the Col. is absolutely right. Iraq, and in fact all the Arab countries not in Africa are the creation of messers Sykes and Picot and are therefore an attempt to meld disparate groups into a nation. Iraqs sheer size and the size of its population make the problems magnified but one only needs to look at Lebanon to see that size doesnt matter when it comes to secterian violence. In fact, Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq, the 3 nations with sizeable Shia populations have all seen violence.

I think Walrus is right in that the chaos in Iraq was planned as an ongoing excuse for the US to keep its troops in Iraq. I just don't think they thought it would ever get this messy.


I thought this might be of interest. From Haaretz...

Six comments on the situation

By Yoel Marcus

1. When the first Gulf War ended in 1991, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, then chief of military intelligence, was asked why the Americans didn't finish off Saddam Hussein. His answer was prophetic: Better a live Saddam, slightly battered, than a dead one. Only he can prevent a battle of Gog and Magog between the Sunnis and the Shi'ites. Too bad Bush junior didn't consult Lipkin-Shahak before invading Iraq.

We are living in a region where outside military intervention triggers earthquakes. Operation Peace for Galilee roused the Shi'ites from their slumber and gave rise to the establishment of Hezbollah. Lebanon War II led Lebanon to the brink of civil war.

And yet the predictions of war this summer are stirring up needless panic around here. If anyone should be worried about Iran it should be Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and, of course, the United States. How many times do we have to get our teeth knocked in before we understand there are some things we need to keep our noses out of?



I think the counterpoint to John in LA's rather brilliant commentary is the article by Robert "The Undead" Novak in the Post:


Guys like Novak want to be on the political winning team. They are whores without honor. And Novak, much as he may share Karl Rove's homoerotic fantasies about George Bush, can see which way the wind is blowing.

It is wonderful to see the rats coming down the mooring lines toward the dock. It is not so wonderful to think about how many more people will die unnecessarily because of the fantasies of a single individual who made it into the White House through influence.

Abu Sinan

Talk to almost any Arwab and they'll tell you that the Iraqis are a tough lot and the only person who could keep a country of such different peoples together is a Saddam Hussein or someone like him. Without it the Iraqi concept of a nation is over.


"Our response to that failure seems to be that we will now drop any real effort to mediate among the peoples of Iraq and will back the Shia Arabs "to the knife." What will that mean exactly?"

It means the U.S. Army is about to become a party to genocide. Col. Custer, no doubt, would approve.


So much pessimism about the current affairs in these comments! I hope that the (as yet) fairly free exchange of thoughts on internet may prevent the dire predictions from becoming reality. The ideas about attack against Iran were floated recently - and maybe because the common "internet-deliberative-body" has prevented it.

Babak Makkinejad

Abu Sinan:

The "Almost Any Arab" is wrong - as is usual. The game of strong man etc. in Iraq is over. We are back to 1920s minus the British Indian troops and the monarchy.


"Genocide" is too strong a word. The new Iraq will not be a Sunni-dominatd polity.



I think Peterp was asking whether there'd be any Sunni Arab left in Iraq when the dust clears...


I can tell you why the choppers went down. Every rotary wing in theatre needs a complete overhaul ASAP and is basically a flying death trap. The Sunni don't need to shoot them down with machine guns or SAM's, they're falling out of the sky because turbine engines were never intended to ingest so much sand for so many hours.

The fixed wing contingent is in a bit better shape, they're running reasonable sortie rates and unlike the Army do not have the majority of their operational assets committed to the theatre and their FBO's are not in combat zones and thus the contractors (who whom much of the military's maintenance has been outsourced) haven't all fled, and thus can do proper maintenance and unit rotation. That said, they are still flying an aweful lot of sorties, and when you fly that many sorties, sooner or later you're going to have someone fall out of the air whether because of an unlikely goonie bird strike or some unlikely mechanical problem.

Meanwhile, the various factions in Iraq have basically unlimited manpower, and unlimited time. Their logistical situation is one that can be sustained forever. Sooner or later, the U.S. will leave, but they'll still be there. They know this. Thus their lack of SAMs capable of shooting down U.S. aircraft is as irrelevant as Hisballah's lack of SAM's was during the Israeli incursion in Lebanon. All they have to do is keep bleeding, bleeding, bleeding the U.S. forces, and sooner or later, the U.S. has to leave because the logistical situation is simply untenable in the long term. It's going to cost half a trillion dollars to repair or replace the equipment destroyed by three years of combat in a god-forsaken sand pile, and there isn't enough equipment left for another three years of combat in that god-forsaken sand pile unless we spend that half a trillion bucks ASAP -- which doesn't appear to be happening. Every piece of operational equipment in the U.S. Army is currently in Iraq or Afghanistan. There is nothing else to send. We can't even pump up the number of soldiers we have in Iraq by the amounts that John McCain and others have been advocating, because there is no longer the equipment to equip them. Hell, we'd probably have to take back the AK-47's we bought for the Iraqi Army just to have enough rifles for them!

Tactics win battles. Logistics win wars. And in this war, the insurgency has all the logistical advantage.

4 billion

Bad Tux, there was evidence of high end quipment in the hands of the Hez, with that boat and a jet/heli being taken out by something that did not have feathers.

The jet/heli was definitely hushed up, I saw Robert Fisk being interviewed when it had just happened and he was holding a bit o' bird.


I hate to say this, but at this point in time, civil war is the best case scenario.

Without it there would be no impetus for change.


Marclord - I'm an American of Arab ancestry. I don't like to hear anybody pronouncing that a particular religion should prevent one's being asked to serve in an American government. It's un-American. I will criticize Israel and her supporters all day long, but to jump to: "no Jews allowed in policy decisions" is simply not the solution. Such a prohibition is not going to happen anyway - at least where Jews are concerned - but as an Arab-American I want to restate my objection.

This is a pluralist country and people are to be judged not by the religion of their ancestors (or that they practice themselves) but by their ideas, their behavior and their accomplishments. Full stop. Whatever the wrongs of Israeli society, and there are many, they will not be righted by Americans dropping our principles of pluralism and religious tolerance.

I don't want the sectarianism and prejudice that's destroying my father's country (Lebanon) to poison my own country (America).

THat's my point.


Sorry Liela, its already happened. Try raising venture capital if you are not a "friend of Israel". I speak from experience.

Having said that, I prefer dealing with the orthodox community because they may be tough, but they stick to the deal.

Goys lie and cheat, but that doesn't change the ultimate message - Israel cannot survive as a theocracy, anymore than muslim countries. In that repect, there is an unholy alliance between Tehran and Jerusalem.


Sorry Liela, its already happened. Try raising venture capital if you are not a "friend of Israel". I speak from experience.

Having said that, I prefer dealing with the orthodox community because they may be tough, but they stick to the deal.

Goys lie and cheat, but that doesn't change the ultimate message - Israel cannot survive as a theocracy, anymore than muslim countries. In that repect, there is an unholy alliance between Tehran and Jerusalem.

Babak Makkinejad

Public confirmation of what has been going on for several years now:



Well, walrus, you couldn't raise venture capital because you werent' a friend of Israel - is that what you're saying?

How do you get from that narrative to the conclusion that Jews should not serve in foreign policy positions in the US government - the original idea to which I objected?

I don't know anything about the status of your private investment activity, but what bankers do is not germane to who gets to serve in the U.S. government. I still say that if we care about pluralism and tolerance in this country, we will continue to look beyond people's race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender preference and so forth, to their actual qualifications for office.

Whether or not Citibank will lend a peacenik some venture capital is not covered under the constitution. Of course I think it's dumb on Citibank's part to play like that, if that's what is really happening, but it's not unconstitutional. I invest in "socially responsible" capital funds that refuse to invest in socially irresponsible corporations or countries. (Remember divesting from South Africa?) Private or even publicly held capital is free to invest where it wishes. The civil service and workings of the state are another matter.

W. Patrick Lang


Thanks. I actually do not object to profanity if it is central to the narrative. pl

John Howley

The FT has an excellent overview of the petroleum situation in Iraq.

Oil groups dream of day they can enter Iraq

By Carola Hoyos and Roula Khalaf

Published: December 7 2006 19:07 | Last updated: December 7 2006 19:07

"As it strains to contain the sectarian bloodshed and ease the departure of its own troops from Iraq, the US has been exerting pressure on Iraqi leaders to pass a hydrocarbons law that would more fairly regulate the distribution of oil revenues and close some of the sectarian rifts. Political squabbles have overshadowed what could be the historic aspect of the legislation: although the previous regime had moved towards opening up the sector, in order to encourage oil companies to break United Nations sanctions, the law is expected finally to reverse the 1972 nationalisation of the industry."


different clue

John Howley referrences the Financial Times's article about the petroleum
situation in Iraq. Among that article's sentences I
note the partial sentence..
" in order to encourage the
oil companies to break the
United Nations sanctions, the law is expected to finally reverse the 1972
nationalization of the industry." The industry
being the oil industry, and
the law being the new hydrocarbons law being lauded in this article. And
there, in that quote, extracted from the "fairness
and goodness for Iraqis" spin, is the point. Reversing the nationalization of the Iraqi
oil industry. Privatising
it. And handing it over to
the Texas-based oil companies which James Baker
works with and works for.
That is the real reason for
invading Iraq. Privatising
the oil. And Texanising it.
That's all it ever was.

I haven't read the ISG plan. But I would almost
bet that one of its 79 points will contain some referrence to passing that
hydrocarbons law and de-nationalizing Iraq's oil industry and especially the
oil fields themselves. And
privatising them and encouraging foreign investment in them, and Production Sharing Agreements and all those good things.

If oil is nowhere mentioned among those 79 points and proposals, then
I will have to admit to being wrong in my theory and
suspicion as to what this
war was all about. I have
regarded the neocons as just
a bunch of tin cans tied to
the rear bumper of the car.
If privatizing Iraq's oil is
nowhere mentioned in the ISG
report, then I will have to
prepare myself to accept that the neocons really are
the man behind the wheel.

I really need to read that


different clue,

You may find your ISG oil questions answered here:

From the article:

'WHILE THE Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever-pragmatic members of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence.

Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq's importance to its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: "It has the world's second-largest known oil reserves." The group then proceeds to give very specific and radical recommendations as to what the United States should do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq's national oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.

The report makes visible to everyone the elephant in the room: that we are fighting, killing and dying in a war for oil. It states in plain language that the U.S. government should use every tool at its disposal to ensure that American oil interests and those of its corporations are met.

It's spelled out in Recommendation No. 63, which calls on the U.S. to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" and to "encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies." This recommendation would turn Iraq's nationalized oil industry into a commercial entity that could be partly or fully privatized by foreign firms.'

(plenty more at the link)


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