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21 July 2009

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Jose

"The Iraqi Shia are not grateful for our having transfered power to them from the Sunni Arabs" - pl

Col., only the Iranians are grateful...

Duncan Kinder

Meghan O'Sullivan, now ensconced at Harvard and awaiting a return to the West Wing.

This gives rise to the tricky question of whether Harvard or the Federal Government provides better heath insurance.

Optimists would argue that an effective health policy would render that question moot, but I for one would proceed carefully until matters are settled.

Until then, Mideast policy would just have to wait...

Babak Makkinejad

It is a faith-based initiative.

JohnH

"It was always hokum. It remains hokum." And I have long argued that the neo-conmen KNEW that it was hokum. What remains obscure is what they were really trying to accomplish with their delusional rhetoric. And it will remain obscure until top Bush administration officials are put on the stand and INTERROGATED about this war of choice.

Greenspan and Chomsky both agree--it was about oil. But not about the oil that you can freely buy on the open market today, but about the oil of tomorrow, that dwindling, precious supply. The nation controlling the spigots will exercise enormous influence over the addicts.

Homer

Great post!

Al-Dawa, the religio-political party of Maliki, which was founded in Iran at the behest of Ayatollah Khomeini and has the support of Iraqis, has been lying in wait, causing trouble, and wanting to Islamicize Iraq for decades.

Consequently, I'd like to know from O'Sullivan the details of when, how, and where, al-Dawa set aside its pro-extremist-Iranian, Islamic fundamentalist views in favor of `American values'.

Long ago, due to a series of attacks against Americans, Al-Dawa was also designated to be an officially sponsored terrorist organization by the State Dept.

Consequently, I'd also like to know from O'Sullivan why exactly al-Dawa's status was changed recently.

And my god .. what about the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the party of al-Hakim??

Hmmmm ... a Neocon pals?

1) War Seems to Bolster Khomeini's Appeal to the People Across the Arab
World. By YOUSSEF M. IBRAHIM. NYT, Oct 26, 1980 [snip]

Baath Socialist Party officers in Iraq and Iraqi Embassies abroad have
been targets of bombings, all of them the work of the Daawa party, the religious-political organization of the Shiite opposition in Iraq. It is
financed and helped by the clerical ruling establishment of Iran.

The Daawa, which means The Call, is a bigger threat to Iraq's Baath party than the Kurds, the Communists or the Arab nationalists, all of
whom have been in the opposition for years. Its potent appeal, enhanced
by fiery broadcasts from Tehran, touched religious sentiments of Iraqi Shiites, particularly in the south, where they are concentrated.

2) Beirut Bombers Seen Front for Iranian-Supported Shiite Faction, The Washington Post, January 4, 1984

The terrorist group that claimed responsibility for the bombing of the U.S. Marine compound and the French military headquarters here may be a front for an exiled Iraqi Shiite opposition party based in Iran, in the view of a number of Arab and western diplomatic sources.

Authorities in Kuwait say their questioning of suspects in the recent bombing there of the U.S. and French embassies indicates a clear link between Islamic Jihad, a shadowy group that says it carried out the Beirut attacks, and Al Dawa Islamiyah, the main source of resistance to the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Al Dawa (The Call) has been outlawed in Iraq, where it wants to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state to replace the secular Baath Socialist government of Saddam Hussein, who is a Sunni Moslem.

It draws its strength from the large Shiite population in southern Iraq. Thousands of its most militant members were expelled to Iran in 1980 before the outbreak of the Iranian-Iraqi war and joined Al Dawa there. But it also has a large following in Lebanon among Iraqi exiles and sympathetic Lebanese Shiites.

While Al Dawa operates out of Tehran, it is not clear whether its activities abroad are under direct Iranian control or merely have Iran's tacit acceptance.

3) 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.

4) IRAN DENIES BLAME FOR JET DISASTER -- AT LEAST 62 DIE IN CRASH FOLLOWING 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.

5) '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.

harper

Look for a neocon twist from the Obama Administration soon after the Iraqi elections take place in January. From what I gather, we are hoping for a "stable" government that can credibly get away with renegotiating the SOFA, to extend the U.S. military presence for another two years, to 2013. That means U.S. troops, or at least a sizeable contingent, remain in Iraq through the next U.S. Presidential elections. A blowup of Iraq after a pullout of American forces, as could occur, as per Col. Lang's astute warning, would damage the Obama reelection effort, and that seems to be the driver behind this move to extend our stay. In the meantime, since the Saudis also want to see the U.S. military occupation of Iraq extended beyond the 2011 scheduled withdrawal date, there are undoubtedly some Saudi rich folks funding Sunni militants inside Iraq to attack Shia to heat things up. And the Sunni-Kurdish brawl over Kirkuk is also heating up, further making the case for American troops to stay longer.

Fred

So the the 'problem' is that those who disagree with Meghan are 'simplistic' and the matter of government in Iraq is just a philisophical dispute between federalism and states rights? Having been born in Gettysburg, PA, I remember how the US solved this dispute; too bad Harvard University professors don't.

Some very telling quotes from Meghan L. O'Sullivan :
"During the first months of the Obama administration. Iraqis… would call me and ask, "who will be Iraq's special envoy?" Were the Iraqis' that ignorant of how the US Government works?

"The failure in security from 2004 well into 2007…." This just coincides with the entire period when MOS "was special assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meghan had 3 years and failed; obviously the thing to do is for President Obama to abandon his integrity and his stated policy goals - given over a multi-year campaign for office and then…… follow Meghan O'Sullivan's advice? Perhaps Meghan should take time out of her busy schedule and head over to Arlington National Cemetary where she can appologize to the thousands who died due to her bad advice. (A visit to Iraq to appologize would be in order also - don't hold your breath.) Afterwards she can make herself feel better by heading over to a neocon fund raiser to remind the donors of that great victory over John Kerry in 2004.

cb

"Certainly, cultural factors do matter, and Iraq's long history -- including, of course, Saddam Hussein's brutal efforts to eradicate the Kurds -- shapes the nature of the problems and the lens through which they are viewed."

Is it possible that she intended to make readers laugh out loud, and that this was some kind of a Sokal hoax-type game on the WP opinion editors?

Green Zone Cafe

Colonel, Meghan is almost spot on from my perspective. I'm in Iraq right now. Whether you or others would want to say that I'm a "neocon" for this is up to you.

I've spoken to enough Iraqi elected officials, in the Council of Representatives and in the Provincial Councils to know that they are sincerely struggling with the questions Meghan describes - federalist questions regarding the power to extract and distribute resources, while still eschewing the word "federalism" to some degree. These are important questions, and it's fascinating watching the debates.

This article from the Daily Star describes how political arguments between groups are held more and more within the playing field described by the Constitution:

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=30&article_id=104254

There is some hope that Iraqi politics could move from sectarianism to "issues based" campaigns. Al Maliki's own victories in the January provincial elections show this. Sunnis have grudgingly conceded to me they voted for his "Rule of Law" list, because of the gains in security and government functioning over the last two years, and Maliki's move away from sectarianism.

I would be the first to agree that much of the US effort has been a "fiasco," but don't let the past, or essentialist theories about Iraqis, blind you to the possibility of real compromise and mutual accomodation reached by the Iraqis themselves.

Brett

Cute, though! Heals most wounds but not em all.

N. M. Salamon

Colonel:

Why the USA [and NATO, as applicable] has to get out of Afganistan, Iraq, the 500+ Forward bases, and the undeclarted wars in Pakistan and Somalia [via proxy Ethiopia]; observe and contemplate:

http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Notwithstanding your and your friends' posting on Afganistan, Al Quada, etc.

This many dimensional display of finacial data, of course, does not cover the requisite investment in Alternative energy to balance the larger part of Peak Oil's adverse effect on the USA [and World's] economy - it is not possible to keep the present per capita energy use forward 10-20 years.
Regards

Patrick Lang

GZC

They may eventually work out some kind of accomodation but NO Iraqi government is going to re-negotiate the agreement that calls for our withdrawal as now scheduled. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Green Zone Cafe:

Are Iraqis discussing federalism or something else?

Having local councils does not mean there is federalism; France has them and she is not a federal state.

Also, what do the Iraqis think about the Shia-Sunni and Arab-Kurd divide in that country? What ideas are they discussing for reorganizing their polity?

And how do they suggest oil revenue to be disbursed? How do they propose to deal with oil-determinism that causes every single oiler state (excepting Norway & UK) to be autocratic and corrupt?

Homer

Green Zone Cafe: ... [D]on't let the past, or essentialist theories about Iraqis, blind you to the possibility of real compromise and mutual accomodation reached by the Iraqis themselves.

Don't let the past blind you?

Around 1980, the Ayatollah Baqir Al-Sadr was forced to watch as his daughter was gang raped by several Baathists.

Baathists then set his beard on fire and pounded nails into his skull.

Don't be blinded by that, right?

Events like that have no significance today?

Shiites are ready to forgive and forget decades of such treatment by their Baathist brethren?

I should forget also about how prior to the deposing of SH, Iraqis use to sit in tea shops and bitch about Genghis Khan who defiled sacred Babylon several hundred years ago.

Iraqis harbor minimal resentment?

A crime to them is like a drop of blood in the sand: It evaporates almost instantly.

Right?

Times are different, right?

Patrick Lang

Homer

So what are you? AEI? Heritage? Just another grad student recruited on a free trip overseas? You played your role well. Reasonable at first and then... What is it about this country that you can't accept? An excess of pluralism in the sense that Sid Smith talks about? You are no evangelical mountaineer. You are also my brother however much that may offend you.

I would like to see an Iraq in which ethnicity and sect identity mean nothing. I always wanted that. I am not someone who relishes the ethno-religious character of Middle Eastern politics, but it is what it is...

I have seen your response. In the best propagandist tradition, you attribute opinions to me that are not mine. I said that the the CPA made it impossible for anyone else to win. you ignore that and proceed to your desired point that we actively installed a Shia religious government. Saddam Hussein? I thought you knew that he was dead. pl

Green Zone Cafe

I do not know what the attitude of the Iraqis will be about US forces two years from now, in the middle of the "last year," 2011. I still expect at least a robust force remaining in Baghdad to protect the embassy. How many other "advisors" stay is hard to say right now.

On the form of the government, the Iraqi Constitution is still a work in progress, there are many gaps and ambiguities. This is what the debates are about, and pursued like political debates in other parts of the world, with good and bad faith arguments by factions. What is important is that factions feel it is worth debating.

Federalism is going to be in the Iraqi system, even if it is an "asymmetric" federalism like Spain or the UK, with a higher degree of autonomy for the KRG (like Catalonia or Scotland) rather than US's more symmetric federalism.

I would also note that many if not most senior officers in the Army and police (those with pre-2003 military experience as officers) were members of the Baath party. These officers are accomodating themselves to government control.

And the government parties are accomodating themselves to these officers.

Bart

Reading what Harper said above regarding Obama staying in Iraq with a view toward 2012: what a shame that Bush's horrible war will live on and kill so many long after he left office.

Alex_no

GZC: I'm in Iraq right now.

I think GZC's account is interesting, in that it shows that even Americans in Iraq really have no clue what is going on, even after all this time, even after meeting Iraqi officials, who were no doubt polite.

GZC's preconceived views have their origins in a narrative put out by the Baghdad embassy late last year, that the essential story in Iraqi politics is a simple contest for power among politicians. I heard it so many times from people like Marc Lynch, Peter Parker of USIP, and other 'experts'.

It was a story that was intended to demean Iraqi politicians. That it was not particularly true (all political scenes evidently are contests for power between individuals; it is a question of relative importance), has been amply proven by Maliki's recent successes.

More importantly, it is a narrative with a Kurdish origin. Pro-Kurdish discourse runs right through GZC's remarks, as those of O'Sullivan. The Daily Star article he cites is written by a Kurd and is a Kurdish version of the constitutional debate.

Outside of Kurdistan, federalism is now dead. Iraqis prefer Maliki's centralist nationalism.

However Kurds want to keep federalism alive, for the obvious reason that it buttresses their position. And to keep the idea of factional squabbling alive. GZC is repeating it again, at 11.49.

Actually conflict in Iraq is returning to a traditional contest between Baghdad and the Kurds. I don't suppose it will be a repeat of Saddam's war with the Kurds, but it will not be extremely different.

Maliki does not want the US involved, but the Kurds are doing their utmost to get the US to intervene in the negotiations over Kirkuk (and indeed not to withdraw from Iraq).

That is the context of O'Sullivan's article, and indeed GZC's comments. Both are representing the Kurdish cause (knowingly or not, I couldn't say).

And yes, I do have credentials for what I'm saying.

Green Zone Cafe

Somehow I missed that "narrative put out by the Baghdad embassy." Maybe there was one cable among many from the embassy which described a "contest for power among politicans," as in other places. Was the contest described as "simple?" I doubt it.

I am surprised that I am described as "pro-Kurdish." I am disparaging of extreme Kurdish claims and recognize that Kirkuk and other claims could represent the bloody ruin of Iraq.

On the other hand, Kurdish autonomy in Dahuk, Erbil and Sulymania is a fact. There is no going back from that; the Iraqi army is not going to mount Anfal II in the region.

The KRG has its own ministries, parliament, judiciary and Peshmerga militia. The Kurdish flag is everywhere within the suzerainty of the KRG, the Iraqi flag invisible. The KRG is booming with investment while the rest of Iraq is mired in their zero-sum attitudes, wherein (I win = you lose).

So Kurdish autonomy is a fact, not a "narrative," and if you ever went to Erbil or Sulymania you would know that. The flash point is how far that autonomy is going to extend into other provinces, and whether the Kurds are negotiating in good faith with the rest of Iraq, or waiting to grab Kirkuk and then split with all those marbles.

By the way, Mallat is a Lebanese Arab, not a Kurd, so I question your "credentials." Who has no clue?

J

Hillary and her latest diatribe about Iran getting nukes and now the defense umbrella for the Persian gulf is a bunch of empty headed stuff, literally.

Hillary appears to be spouting the Israeli lobby talking points about Iran developing nuclear weapons which there is no evidence to support such claims.. Even the IAEA has conceded that no evidence of such exists.

Hillary would be better served talking in a quieter tone until she has 'hard evidence' of an Iran nuke weapons program, which does not exist.

Hillary's 'umbrella proposal' for the Mideast mirrors a March WINEP report, and it was signed by Dennis Ross.

There is at issue how much Neocon influence is over the Obama administration. Hillary is spouting Neocon policy and trying to put happy faces on it.

Alex_no

On the other hand, Kurdish autonomy in Dahuk, Erbil and Sulymania is a fact. There is no going back from that; the Iraqi army is not going to mount Anfal II in the region.

The KRG has its own ministries, parliament, judiciary and Peshmerga militia. The Kurdish flag is everywhere within the suzerainty of the KRG, the Iraqi flag invisible. The KRG is booming with investment while the rest of Iraq is mired in their zero-sum attitudes, wherein (I win = you lose).

GZC, so you do work with the Kurds, as I thought. That's a very lyric elegy about the wonders of Kurdistan.

OK, I was wrong about the nationality of Mallat - one error, I am not a legal specialist - but you ignore the main point that he still presented the Kurdish vision of the constitutional question. I don't think you'll find that Maliki has much time for that these days.

J

The Persian Gulf is becoming a target rich environment, it appears 2 Israeli Dolphin Class subs carrying nukes are heading for their Iran AOR. Thing is that the Straits of Hormuz are 'private waterways' contrary to the belief of many. Iran legally owns 1/2 of the Straits and has the legal right to give or deny passage to any transiting vessel (both above and beneath). Subs are required by International Sea Laws to surface and fly their flag when transiting the Straits, but few below surface vessels ever do.

I could just see Israel's silent diesel Dolphin's having a melt down right in the middle of their straits transiting.

More headaches for our U.S. Navy assets in the Persian Gulf to contend with. Crazy, loony Israelis with Nuke missiles on board their Dolphin subs do not a good combination make.'

curious

Hillary's 'umbrella proposal' for the Mideast mirrors a March WINEP report, and it was signed by Dennis Ross.
Posted by: J | 23 July 2009 at 12:03 PM


I truly doesn't understand that part.

1. at practical level, she said it during asean meeting. (total wtf, moment.) It's like declaring Jesus will save everybody in the middle of buddhist theology convention. But then again, her asean crew is so out of it, she probably doesn't notice she is so out of it.

2. substantively. What exactly does it mean to have umbrella in asia? or the world? South korea? (that would be logical) For Japan? (You got to be kidding, might as well declare WWIII directly.) Any Asean country? (doesn't make sense to the highest degree) India/Pakistan are the only country left in asia after that. (again, doesn't make sense) EU/NATO? (already covered. Russia is pissed in eastern europe. And franckly I don't think we can protect eastern europe when the shitstorm happens.)

Next is middle east. Umbrella for Israel? (only the dumbest strategist will do that. It limits national interest choice by automatically chaining US military respond to Israel domestic politics. Practically suicidal. Somebody will make sure US go into a nuke war in the middle east.)

So that leave, the rest of middle east "allies" (Who are they then? Saudi? Kuwait?) ..?

So overall, I think Hillary hasn't thought out her theory completely. It makes a lousy foreign policy. Worst than NATO expansion.

If she keeps saying that, the nuclear race will accelerate at least 5 years. Everybody who is not inside the "umbrella" will all of a sudden need nuke.

btw. anybody watching Hillary's statement in asean meeting? (I really thought she doesn't understand the forum at all. She could have gotten a lot more mileage doing behind the door dealing. instead of rattling talking points that the people there doesn't care. )

J

Remember in the not too distant past how the Mideast was supposed to be declared a 'nuclear free zone'? Well Israel and their 400 plus nuke weapons inventory, plus the WINEP 'nuclear umbrella' nonsense that Hillary is spouting, nixes the Mideast being a nuclear weapons free zone any time soon. Sheez, and to think, many hoped that common sense would prevail -- NOT!

Green Zone Cafe

Alex, the fact that Mallat and I agree that some federal devolution might be the best way to preserve an "Iraq" does not mean we are working with the Kurds. It means we're working with reality. Maliki has accomodated himself to the present state of Kurdish autonomy, unlike you, but what could he do if he didn't? Invade the KRG with the Iraqi Army, already busy enough with establishing security in the rest of Iraq? Even ten years from now such a conflict would be unattractive.

And it is a fact that the KRG is developing at a much faster rate than the rest of Iraq, for several reasons related to their autonomy.

Finally, why shouldn't the Kurds in Iraq have autonomy? Like the Basques, Catalans, and Scottish, they are a distinct culture with a different language. After the death of Franco in 1975, devolution was the only way to preserve the Spanish State. Why would it be different in Iraq and why do the Kurds need to be ruled from a highly centralized state in Baghdad?

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