Brief update about events in Iraq
Here are two important articles about current events in Iraq. As US forces leave, esp combat units, the next phase of the war begins (as experts have forecast since early 2008). Excerpts appear below; I recommend reading both in full.
- “Iraq: the unraveling?“, Tom Ricks, blog of Foreign Policy, 30 March 2009
- “The World in Our Image“, an anonymous author, posted at Defense and the National Interest, 5 April 2009
(1) “Iraq: the unraveling?“, Tom Ricks, blog of Foreign Policy, 30 March 2009 — Excerpt:
I thought some of the surge-era deals in Iraq would unravel but I didn’t think that would begin happening this quickly. It’s only March 2009, and already Awakening fighters are fighting U.S. soldiers in the streets of Baghdad.
… Along with the bombings in west Baghdad lately, the street fighting over the weekend doesn’t quite form a trend. But it points toward one possible series of events. That is, the Maliki government is putting the screws to the Awakening movement (for those who just arrived, that’s a mainly Sunni group of about 100,000 people, many of them former insurgents, who in late 2006 and 2007 arrived at ceasefires with the U.S. military presence in Iraq). The American plan was to integrate about 20,000 members of Awakening groups into Iraqi security forces, and help the rest find other work. Meantime, the Baghdad government was supposed to take over the payments to the groups, which when I last checked totaled about $30 million a month.
But the Shiite-dominated Baghdad government never really liked the idea. Indeed, the first deals were cut by U.S. officials behind the back of the Iraqi government. So Maliki’s guys are:
- Arresting some leaders of the “Sons of Iraq” (the American term for Awakening forces)
- Attacking others
- Bringing only 5,000 of the ex-insurgents into the Iraqi security forces
- And stiffing others on pay, with some complaining they haven’t been paid in weeks or even months
I think Maliki’s gambit is to crack down on the Sunnis while American forces are still available in sufficient numbers to back him up. This is a turning into a test of strength, Sunni vs. Shiite.
.. Question of the day: What should I say the next time someone tells me the surge “worked”?
About the author, excerpt from his bio:
- Senior fellow, Center for a New American Security, a bipartisan think tank
- Contributing editor, Foreign Policy magazine
- Special military correspondent for the Washington Post
- Author of 2 books about Iraq: Fiasco and The Gamble
(2) “The World in Our Image“, an anonymous author, posted at Defense and the National Interest, 5 April 2009– Excerpt:
The following was contributed by one of the country’s top defense analysts (who requests to remain anonymous for reasons more of timing than politics). Although I discourage anonymous contributions, they do have the advantage of allowing you to judge ideas independent of the (in this case, formidable) reputation of their authors.
My intell friends have been watching this development in Iraq for the past several weeks. They insist everything is unraveling behind the scenes. They say it is not just a matter of money drying up — rather, the Shi’ites are soaking up all the money to keep their own militias and Shi’a-heavy “national” units loyal and willing to begin the unavoidable / inevitable Shi’a crackdown on the Kurds and Sunnis. …
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To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp interest these days:
- About Iraq & Sub-continent Wars – my articles
- About Iraq & Sub-continent Wars – studies & reports
- About the Iraq War – Goals and Benchmarks
Posts about the war in Iraq:
- The Iraq insurgency has ended, which opens a path to peace, 13 March 2007
- Beyond Insurgency: An End to Our War in Iraq, 27 September 2007
- Iraq, after the war, 20 May 2008
- Slowly the new Iraq becomes visible, 18 July 2008