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
5 thoughts on “Brief update about events in Iraq”
Violence between Sunni and Shia should have been anticipated by the current administration, and proper steps taken to head it off. Too many US resources have been depleted in the attempt to pacify Iraq for the new administration to adopt this stance of passive neglect.
As the situation in Iraq continues to unravel under Obama’s leadership, the public will increasingly associate the growing violence and discord with Obama. It is becoming Obama’s war now, as things descend into sectarian anarchy. Every day that passes puts Obama’s brand on the bloodletting.
Well now we know — in some quarters it takes 90 days to get blamed for six years of other people’s idiocy.
The real point here is that the ‘surge’ and the recent elections were all managed to make things look good and tamp down attention here in the US. The four provinces in which elections were NOT held were where the rubber meets the road in terms of Sunni, Shia, and Kurd getting along. None of the political stuff that was supposed to happen due to the ‘surge’ did, as Ricks has been the first and clearest to point out, but which for some odd reason McCain as one example simply did not ever see fit to mention. The ‘surge’ got spun, as has most of the war been for some of the people some of the time, a ‘support our troops’ issue; such that if you thought it was not a success, you were putting down our soldiers. That scam works just about every time, it seems. The fact that the troops generally trust their commanders and try to nail every mission doesn’t mean they never get sent on fools’ errands, though. The reception for Obama recently indicates that they, too, have a taste for candor rather than mere bluster, and agree that it is time for the Iraqis to run their country, or not. If some sort of AQI sets up, we can always bomb them or send in special forces. The Occupation needs to end, period, and it’s on its way out.
Fabius Maximus replies: Perhaps it is on its way out, moving to Afghanistan. Perhaps we will continue to support the Iraq “government” so long as it allows us to retain full use of the massive bases we built — which were IMO one of the major reasons for the invasion and occupation. Mission accomplished.
” in some quarters it takes 90 days to get blamed for six years of other people’s idiocy.”
What is your basis for saying that? Neither of these articles blame Obama. The first does not even mention him. The second says only “As they point out to their superiors in the Obama Administration…”
Yes, I agree that Mr. Obama inherited a relatively stable situation and has allowed it to degenerate terribly. Shame on the new president for allowing other less important matters to occupy his mind. Some persons simply take longer to get up to speed than others. Perhaps we should allow for this in Mr. Obama?
Fabius Maximus: To what are you agreeing? Neither of these articles say anyting remotely like “Obama inherited a relatively stable situation and has allowed it to degenerate terribly.” I recommend using quotations to avoid responding to things you imagine the authors said.
Iraq needs a strong man like Saddam to do it justice. The puppet government that Obama has in place can’t run the country. Nothing but gray skies from now on, until another dictator comes along who can fit in with the coming axis of autocracies. This new breed of country won’t hesitate to shed blood if it must.
Why were these men paid to be militamen ? Could they not have been paid to do something useful – such as work on roads , water supplies , public health , buildings , archeology , agriculture , etc etc ?
Or were they offered such employment and refused to take it ?
Fabius Maximus replies: A great question! A partial answer is that we supported the Iraq Sunni Arab’s when they decided to chase out Al Qaeda (whom they no longer needed as shock troops). But, as you ask, could we have done so while providing a transition plan for them to civilian employment?