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The Developing Situation in Iraq

by paul spencer Tue Aug 28th, 2007 at 01:23:33 AM EST

I wrote a diary last week - Oil and the new Sunni alliance with the U.S. - and there are some interesting developments to this story for your consideration.

David Ignatius (WaPo) published an article today in which one Ayad Allawi figures prominently.  Ignatius, in true Beltway-insider form, quotes a "high official" as stating that frustration with Iranian meddling has caused the U.S. occupation establishment to decide that al-Maliki is too much of an Iranian ally (whether consciously or objectively is not germane), and that new leadership is needed.  If you read my previous, related diary, then you know that I think that this is window-dressing for a decision to separate Iraq into two or three "states".

Almost as an aside, Ignatius makes two pertinent comments concerning Allawi.  He says: 1) that the Sunni (in Iraq, presumably) support Allawi, and 2) that the Saudis are bank-rolling his push for an appointment as essentially a martial-law Prime Minister.  Now Allawi is nominally a Shi'a, but his real religion is money and power.  Of course, this is the true nature of the regime in Saudi Arabia, however much the House of Saud may tolerate the fundamentalist Wahhabists, so they understand one another quite well.  Some western and Baghdadi Sunni do have a modicum of fondness for Allawi, because he is a sometime Ba'athist, which represents to them the period of their ascendancy.  And being on Saddam Hussein's bad side is not necessarily a demerit in this region, either.  Saddam seems little mourned, other than in Tikrit.

The CW on Allawi has been that either he and his buddies stole a lot of the money when they were heading up the pre-election show in Iraq, or that some of his bandit buddies are fronting his "reappointment" campaign - or that our administration is still supporting him via the CIA.  If the Saudis turn out to be the Sugardaddies, we can guess that they have a dog in this fight.

Beyond the Allawi campaign, there are significant realignments happening here in the second half of August.  Besides the ever-connected Clinton and Levin pronouncements (plus those of their new connectivity-wannabe, Representative Brian Baird), we have the NIE, the "ambassador" Ryan Crocker, the "liberal media", and "administration officials" - all swelling the al-Maliki-must-go chorus to a mightly crescendo.  Why?

First and foremost, the U.S. military must pacify Baghdad, as a key component of the row of permanent bases (read "forts") from the western Kurdish region to the soon-to-be-former British base in Basrah province.  The Shi'a in Baghdad must either accept subservience there, or - at  the least - move across the river to the eastern suburbs where their brethren are already concentrated. Under the rubric of neutralizing the militias, our forces in Baghdad are primarily targetting the Shi'a districts.  Until lately, al-Maliki has resisted the focus on his fellow Shi'a.  

All other reasons for his downfall are secondary, but follow from the same relationship.  Abandonment of the national project is the ulterior motive.

Another indicator of the new strategy is the $20 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia and the related Persian Gulf regimes.  Basically, they will be responsible for their northern border (plus Kuwait) where it faces the soon-to-become Shi'a region.  In my opinion this deal will also support additional internal security forces, because al-Qaeda is becoming persona non grata in the new arrangement. Knowing al-Qaeda, they will try to wreak a little havoc in the old hometown.

The U.S. military itself will be reorganized on one side of a distinguishable line with a simple mission: Protect yourself and the people behind this line.  This defensive alignment will enhance security and will mean that troop levels can be reduced.  This will improve morale immediately, will make their mission acceptable to them again, will make rhetoric about eventual withdrawal more credible, and will allow a return to an R&R schedule that meets the nominal program of the U.S. armed services.

Such a situation also changes the debate with respect to attacks on Iran in that, once in defensive mode, any attacks are seen as Shi'a (read Iranian) provocation.  The normal - and I use the term advisedly - military reaction will be to throw missiles and bombs in the general direction from which the attack originated.  (Forget invasion - that has been nothing but a bluff for some time now.)

That's how I see the latest developments.  What do you think?

The anti al-Maliki operation in Washington is being run out of the offices of Barbour, Griffiths and Rogers, hyper Republican lobbyists. Nobody is entirely sure who's the paymaster, some have suggested Chalabi but the Saudis are just as likely.

What's interesting is the extent to which the WH is trying to appear a disinterested party in all this, while having their grubby fingers all over it.

Nevertheless I think you're right in this suggesting that the Americans want to partition Iraq. That this is an isane idea that will lead to regional war within a couple of years is evidently neither here nor there. It is superficially attractive in a completely knuckle-headed way, if they really believe this will bring peace I fear they will be mighty disappointed. However, I wonder if, at the top, they do expect it to bring peace or just a change in situation to look like they're doing something whilst keeping the situation tense.

Saudi are in favour cos they will get control of the Western Iraqi desert, a geolocially unexplored region that may contain fresh northern extentions to their own failing fields. However, the kurds will immediately get into trouble with Turkey and Iran and that will create "interesting" times in that region.

All in all I doubt there will be peace anytime soon. I just wonder how they expect this to improve the oil situation.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Aug 28th, 2007 at 09:38:38 AM EST
Last November, Joe Biden who is one of the Presidential candidates offered a new plan for stabilizing Iraq which did call for divided regional authority, but still with a central government:

Iraq: A Way Forward

He recommended federalizing the government and allowing the three religious sects to control their own territories. They would have common interests like border security and the distribution of oil. In Biden's proposal he said: "The plan would bind the Sunnis - who have no oil -- by guaranteeing them a proportionate share of oil revenues." Would the Shia ever agree to such a plan?

by BJ Lange (langebj@gmail.com) on Tue Aug 28th, 2007 at 10:46:19 AM EST
Thanks again, Paul.
This relates powerfully to the question of how the attack on Iran will be played.

Such a situation also changes the debate with respect to attacks on Iran in that, once in defensive mode, any attacks are seen as Shi'a (read Iranian) provocation.  The normal - and I use the term advisedly - military reaction will be to throw missiles and bombs in the general direction from which the attack originated.  (Forget invasion - that has been nothing but a bluff for some time now.)

Yes, the idea of an invasion of foot-sloggers has always seemed a real stretch, given the current situation and the forces that might need to be neutralized--a pretty experienced and pretty numerous opponent.
However, I suspect the Iran chronology will be well advanced before the partitioning of Iraq could become a factor. The house around the Neocons has been crumbling for a long time, and is pretty well advanced. I think what the Asia Times may have meant was that if Bush does not move soon, --- a lot of his buddies may be breaking Rocks, and he and Dickie may be too busy with lawyers themselves to do it right.
Odd that the courts seem to have emerged as the real defender of the constitution.
 Damn! Aint that the way it was supposed to go?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 09:17:58 AM EST

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