Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wars Within Wars in Iraq

In today's L.A. Times, Richard Engel says to forget Bush's simplistic dogma of a struggle for democracy against terrorism.
The perception portrayed by the White House and the Iraqi government in Baghdad -- and all too often reflected, I'm sorry to say, in the news media -- is that the violence in Iraq is the result of a straightforward struggle between two opposing teams: the Freedom Lovers and the Freedom Haters.
What the President wants us to believe is that conflict in Iraq is a Manichean struggle between two sides:
  1. The Freedom Lovers: The 12 million Iraqis who plunged their fingers into purple ink on election day in December 2005, choosing freedom, moderation and democracy. Their team captains are the Iraqi government, the White House, the U.S.-trained Iraq security services and the roughly 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

  2. The Freedom Haters: Iraqi radicals, foreign jihadists, former Baath Party members and criminals supported by Al Qaeda, Syria and Iran who have formed an alliance of convenience to reject the democratization of Iraq. This team's captains are Al Qaeda in Iraq, Iranian and Syrian agents and, sometimes, radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr's Al Mahdi militia.
In fact, there are many groups in Iraq fighting for many different reasons and hoping to achieve many different goals. The vast majority of them don't believe that they are fighting for or against democracy. Engle provides his readers with "program notes" delineating the teams in this mosaic of civil wars:
  • Many Sunni groups in Iraq are also fighting a war that seems to have little in common with the official U.S. and Iraqi characterizations. Al Qaeda in Iraq and its allies now fight under an umbrella group they call the Islamic State of Iraq. In April, the group issued an Internet statement saying it is fighting a "Zionist-Persian" conspiracy to rule Iraq. From what they wrote, they seem to believe that they are fighting an attempt to take over their country by Israel and Iran -- not against a U.S. mission to bring democracy to Iraq.

  • Muqtada Sadr: The radical Shiite leader and commander of the Al Mahdi militia wants to surpass the influence of his father, one of Iraq's most revered Shiite leaders. Sadr has tapped into the frustrations of Iraq's poor, uneducated and unemployed Shiite community, which is increasingly fed up with the continued presence of U.S. troops. He wants to turn his army of bandits into Iraq's version of Lebanon's Hezbollah.

  • The Kurds: Iraqi Kurds want independence in northern Iraq and control of the oil rich city of Kirkuk. They want to capitalize on their new freedom by establishing what they have been denied for centuries, an autonomous, prosperous oil-rich state.

  • Abdelaziz Hakim: The infirm leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (now known as the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council) wants to control southern Iraq and carve out a ministate allied with Iran. His party would rule this emirate, containing both the rich oil fields in Basra and access to the Persian Gulf.

  • Iyad Allawi: The former prime minister, ex-Baath Party member and Western intelligence asset wants to return to power, overthrow Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and unite Sunnis and Shiites under his secular rule. He wants to be Iraq's pro-American strongman.

  • Nouri Maliki: His goals are unclear. At times he sounds as though he is reading talking points from the White House, but he also is beholden to Sadr. Maliki recently told me that he and Sadr are "from the same school" and that he does not see Sadr as a threat to Iraq. The U.S. military, which is keeping Maliki in power, does not see Sadr the same way.
When Americans eventually escape the boxed-in thinking of the Administration, they will see that however-so-long we are fighting in Iraq, we are not fighting until Iraqi forces 'can stand up'.
The problem is Iraqis are already fighting for their country, and fighting savagely. They are just not fighting the war of the Freedom Haters versus the Freedom Lovers that many in the U.S. administration would apparently like them to be fighting.

11 comments:

  1. A big thanks for posting this, Emily. It couldn't be more timely.

    All American media is focused on what this or that candidate is saying, or what this or that General may report in a few weeks. But at this time the real-deal stuff is not how many Iraqi MP's are on vacation, but what the real Iraqi power-brokers are doing. They have names we can't recognize, spell or pronounce, and they don't have uniforms with numbers on their backs. But their politics are why Bush's pretenses of progress are fraudulent. His occupation of Iraq is masquerading as a war; it has to because it is as ignoble as his invasion that spawned it.

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  2. What a great post. Thanks for getting it out there, Emily.

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  3. What focusing your attention on the real-deal politics does is to allow one to recognize how much the Pentagon is seamlessly planting it's anti-Iranian spin on everything coming out of Iraq.

    For example, the LA Times reports 5 of our troops were killed on Sunday by "al-Qaeda-allied guerrillas" who planted the IEP or explosively formed projectiles. Other Pentagon lexicon accuses Iran of importing EFP which are killing our guys. The EFP's are all over Iraq. Iran could hardly be supplying them to the Sunni forces. It's just not credible.

    Having hijacked the GWOT to invade Iraq, Bush is now ABusing the occupation to channel some kind (Cheney-only-knows) of attack on Iran.

    It never stops.

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  4. There is some evidence to support the allegation that Iran is supplying arms/assistance to the Sunnis. It is not anywhere near the amount claimed by our corrupt administration. This was a great read Emily. Thanks.

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  5. Mike, I would like to see any references pertaining to Iranian supplying arms to Sunnis.

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  6. One thing is certain - the citizens of Iraq are not in favor of giving the West control of Iraq's oil wealth.

    Bush's Freedom "Love" is freedom to exploit the resources of countries in crisis.

    I look forward to reading Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine (coming in September), which addresses this subject.

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  7. Ditto, M.D., Ditto on all points.

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  8. Mad Mike and Messenger: WHAT'S THE DIFF?

    In the aftermath of Bush's shock and awe, Iraq has imploded into three occupied parts: Kurdistan, Shiistan and Sunnistan. Only in Kurdistan is the occupation at all welcomed. Is it not a natural right for those we call "insurgents", who want to wrest their community free of the "occupiers" to get their arms from any where they can? I agree that it's illogical for the Iranians to supply Sunnis with anything. But is it illogical for the Sunnis to grab whatever they can get from whomever they can find?

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  9. The State Department is going to list the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), A.K.A., Pasdaran as terrorists? If they are in Iraq, which is debatable, they're dabbling in a civil war. Which is what our 'advisors' did in Vietnam from 1954-1963.

    Terrorists? Who calls them terrorists? The illegitimate occupiers of Iraq? WTF!

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  10. Well done, Emily. Shia and Sunni are fighting among themselves, against each other, against the US, and against the Kurds. It's patchwork chaos.

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