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22 August 2008


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Sir. The big question is wether the US will hand over all the biometric data and other files it has on the SoI over to Iraq so as to make him capable of taking them out. I expect the Badr brigades will wish to pack out the drills again. It will be interesting to see if the US still has the pull to stop them.


Could it be that behind the scenes, Iran is in charge? Seriously.

Is it true that the Iranians want no part of the former Sunni elite?

So I guess I am asking whether, if Iran is basically in control in Iraq, whether the Iranians, in fact, don't need the Sunni's?


Handing over biometric data? We left the card files in Saigon didn't we?

Clifford Kiracofe


If the present Iranian government/establishment is taken to be, on balance, "pragmatic" then what degree of instability would (or could) it tolerate in Iraq?

Which is to say, for Tehran isn't some relative stability in Iraq preferable to chaos? And isn't some modus vivendi with the Sunni Arab world preferable and more conducive to regime survival in Iran?


Col. Lang:

“If (genocide) happens the Islamic World will rally behind the Sunni Arabs in support of an insurgent campaign that will last for a long, long time.” pl

What’s to prevent it? Given what’s happened so far, it doesn’t look so much like “if” as “when.”

As an additional example, Juan Cole reports via AFP that another son of the leader of the Iraqi Accord Front (Sunni) was arrested yesterday after being caught planting a bomb in a house belonging to a Shiite family.

Short of just getting the hell out of there, the US only has one option that I can see and the exercise of it would be as catastrophic and as impossible to pull off as the consequences will be if Jalaladeen’s – and al-Maliki’s - unwillingness to integrate the Sunnis into the Iraqi government is allowed to stand. We could declare the Iraqi election null and void, dissolve their government and pretend again that Iraq is really nothing more than a US colony that needs our protection.

I really don’t see that happening either. As the poet said, we have been hoist on our own petard.

Yet this is a war that McCain insists he knows how to win.


Today's WSJ headline "Iraqi Army's Rise Boosted Chances for U.S. Withdrawal".

So we are to believe the Sunnis had no involvement in this? The situation seems a bit reminiscent of the power struggles between Darlan and De Gaulle in North Africa in 1942.


What I'm seeing is consistent with a deal that might have been done a year ago. Sunnis and Moqtada would stand down in return for a US withdrawal.

It came just in time for Petraeus' meetings last 9-11, where he announced that things were getting better, rebuffed the Democrats' challenge, and turned them back into the bleaters they really are.

What I think is happening now is that the Iraqis are calling in the chips. They did their part of the deal, so they expect Bush to do his part, which is giving him enormous heartburn...


Col. Lang:

re Fred suggesting that the conflict in Iraq was reminiscent of the Darlan DeGaulle struggle in North Africa in 1942.

It also reminds me of when the French tried to convince the world that because they had designated Algeria as part of Metropolitan France that their efforts to crush Algeria's rebellion were justified.


Whatever new crisis emerges in Iraq, this neocon WH can undoubtedly make it worse.


I can understand this move after the US Army is out of Iraq.

But... why is Maliki acting now and why is the US military acquiescing to this instability causing tactic?

Patrick Lang


They want to get out of Iraq. pl


The Shiite Sunni battle for supremacy was always the end game once American troops left Iraq. Thousand years of enmity are not ended by a 5 year foreign occupation. As you have indicated, the problem is when there are too few American troops provide for their own security. It will take great leadership to get the remnants of the Army out alive.

Last night NewsHour had a very interesting report on a war I never heard of between Abkhazia and Georgia.

At the risk of a Nuclear Holocaust, the United States is jumping in on one side or the other of thousand year old tribal conflicts. All this is for oil fields and pipelines that the America will never conquer with the volunteer Army. There are way too few boots on the ground.

Stephen Calhoun

Let me get this straight, as we up arm the regular Iraqi military looking to the future stand down, they stand up dream fulfillment, the US at the same time is giving the Shi'a Iraqis the tools to finish the cleaning job.

Would anyone bet against an October surprise constituted by Mr. Bush declaring victory?

Dave of Maryland

What if Maliki's cornered? What if he suspects one or another Awakening group is planning to overthrow him? (Don't they see him as an Iranian stooge?) What if he's having a hard time controlling more radical parties in his own governing coalition?


I wonder how true the anti-Awakening moves said to be coming from Maliki are.

No doubt the Awakening people will be dumped, they will be got rid of, as they were a US idea, so the US can pay them, and deal with them. But why now in particular (as someone commented)? There's no reason. It would be a move that would tend to weaken Maliki's position.

On the other hand, there are very powerful motives right now for the US authorities in the Green Zone to want to suggest that an anti-Sahwa move is about to take place. That would split the opposition to the signing of the SOFA, by cutting out the Sunnis. Also suggest that the Iraqis are stupid and fractious as usual.

Nearly all this story has emanated from US analysts who've been in Baghdad recently, and were no doubt royally entertained and briefed in the seminar rooms of the US embassy.

So we should be careful in evaluating the stories on this, check out who is saying what.



Who wants "out of Iraq"? The US military? The present US govt? Or both?

Patrick Lang


The military. They need to get the ground forces out of Iraq to; reduce stress on personnel, do something serious about equipment shortages, have troops to deploy to Afghanistan and complete the organizational transformation process now underway in the Army. pl


Col Lang,

I can see why everyone would want to have fewer troops in Iraq, but do you believe Bush and Cheney have concluded that a long term base in Iraq is not possible or not worth the trouble?

Nobody wants 150k troops in Iraq forever, but what about 15k?

João Carlos

PL wrote: "The military. They need to get the ground forces out of Iraq to; reduce stress on personnel, do something serious about equipment shortages, have troops to deploy to Afghanistan and complete the organizational transformation process now underway in the Army."

Ok, time for I quote Homer Simpson: "d'uh!"


I can be wrong, but I think that it is just what Obama proposed...

William R. Cumming

Long long term the decision has been made right or wrong by the US to side with the Sunnis in the world of Islam. My test-where do US arms and training support go (tracking both financing and equipment and logistics support) and what kind of formal and informal arrangements exist between US and Sunnis as opposed to the Shias. Looking back 10 years down the road the merits of the US choice will able to be fully weighed. Apparently, once SADDAM was out of the way the choice was almost foreordained. Smart Iraqis and Iranians will vote with their feet if possible before US evacuates its forces from Iraq. Lack of SOFA indicates Iraq does NOT want to be part of American Empire.


With the military wanting out of Iraq, it would not surprise me if the deal I described above was done between the military and the Iraqis. Bush got what he asked for--a reduction of violence in an election year. And he got a "successful surge," because the Sunnis and Al Sadr stood down. But maybe no one bothered to tell him the price: withdrawal, which both the US military and the Iraqis want. Now he's being told the price, and it's putting him and the entire neocon mafia--McCain included--into an enormously uncomfortable position.


What this country needs is a ruthless strongman willing to slaughter thousands for any threat to his power. Doh


The SOI will have to bring it to the brink while we're still in town to provide top cover. Once we go they are toast.

I look for a surge failure sometime in the next year. If the Iraqis manage to hold elections, the Sunnis will not get a piece of the pie, and that will be the signal.

Silly and pretentious to think we could mediate this in any significant way except to take sides and provide materiel and other sorts of support.

Green Zone Cafe

The Colonel speaks the truth.

Before the Awakening idea, US military commanders had struggled for months to get the Iraqi MOI to accept Sunni police recruits.

A local US brigade or battalion commander would get a "commitment" from the MOI to accept a number of new police recruits, and then would engage with local shaykhs and hold open recruiting events to bring Sunni men in.

After screening and assembling these potential recruits, the Iraqi MOI would often not follow through on its earlier commitment. The training class would be cancelled, or the buses would not show up, or some other bureaucratic obstacle would appear. The Sunnis would be left standing and the US commander would be embarrassed and angry.

The idea of the Awakening was in part born from these US frustrations with the Iraqi MOI. Why not directly contract with the Sunni shaykhs for security?

This has worked out pretty well in a lot of places in Iraq.

The problems come from a couple of sources. One is that the Awakening militias challenge the present Shia religious party rule of areas where there are Sunni majorities, like in parts of Diyala, Baghdad, and north Babel provinces. Another problem is that some of the Awakening leaders and members have blood on their hands as former AQI, Islamic Army, or old regime leaders and supporters. The Shia-led government, security forces and judiciary want "justice" for past wrongs by these "bad guys."

Another level is the role of the struggle between the US and Iran, the always-mysterious extent of Iranian influence on the Government of Iraq, including Maliki, our recruitment of the Sunnis as a possible counterforce to an Iranian-allied GOI.

The next few months will be interesting. If left on their own, the Iraqis could work it out. If forced into a US-Iranian direct or proxy conflict, things will go to hell.


arbogast: Could it be that behind the scenes, Iran is in charge? Seriously.

If you take the time and look at the (widely accessible but almost totally ignored) history of the two main Shiite religio-political groups now `running' Iraq (viz. Dawa and SCIRI) you will probably find it very easy to posit that is in deed and in creed wild and crazy to argue that Iran is not in charge.

These two groups were formed decades ago at the behest of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

They've never been pro-American.

They never will be.

Here's a few blasts from the past ... a few short ditties by the group called Dawa, Bush's favorite group whom he also looked into its eyes and saw a good friend to the US (sigh).


1) KUWAIT ROUNDS UP BOMBING SUSPECTS. Chicago Tribune. Jul 13, 1985.

The outlawed Iraqi Al-Daawa Party, which professes allegiance to Iranian
leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was blamed for bomb attacks on the U.S. and French Embassies and on four economic targets in Kuwait in December, 1983. Five people were killed and 86 injured.

HIJACK ATTEMPT. Seattle Times. Dec 26, 1986. [snip]

Another caller, saying he represented the Islamic Jihad terrorist group,
said his group worked with the pro-Iranian outlawed Iraqi Al Daawa Party
in staging the airplane hijacking.

The mysterious Islamic Jihad holds at least two French and two American hostages in Lebanon. Al Daawa seeks to overthrow the regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, which has been at war with Iran for six years.

3) 'Walk Free' Prediction Gets Puzzled Reaction. San Francisco Chronicle.
Jul 15, 1987.

State Department officials indicated yesterday they were perplexed by
Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North's assertion that 17 men convicted in Kuwait of bomb attacks on the U.S. and French embassies will eventually "walk free." .... The 17 are mainly Iraqi Shiites identified as members of the underground Al-Daawa Party, which is pro-Iranian.

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