Friday, August 31, 2007
Rasheed, A. (2007). Iraq says Iran continues shelling despite protest. Reuters. August 30, 2007. Available online: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070830/wl_nm/iraq_iran_shelling_dc_1.
A few weeks ago, chatter from Washington hinted at airstrikes against the PKK, an anti-Turkish Kurdish group on the terror watch list, but with close ties to our friends in Iraqi Kurdistan. This tactic was designed to force our friends, the Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, into either abandoning the fight for Turkish Kurdistan or destruction.
Instead, the PKK goes through the horns of the dilemma: last weekend, they attacked and destroyed an Iranian helicopter. This week, Iran's been shelling Iraqi Kurdistan.
This is a smart move by the PKK, which positions itself as an anti-Iranian thug organization, and a bad move by Iran, which traditionally has good relations with its ethnic minorities (though this has frayed in recent years).
Lastly, this is also a sign of our missing diplomatic surge: Iran should be helping us battle al Qaeda and connect the Middle East. This proxy war between Washington and Tehran is unfortunate, to say the least.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Bush's incompetence would be hilarious if it wasn't so dangerous.
The latest terrible decision revolve around the Kurds, the "Other Iraq," the independence of which is one of the greatest successes of the Iraq War. President Bush and his dangerous, deluded advisors are doing their best to destroy that success too.
- US Secretary of State: Kurds have no authority over oil in their region (courtesy of Democratic Underground)
- Iraqi Kurds Criticize U.S. Detention of Iranian Diplomats
George Bush was the right man in the 2004 election because of his two picks for the Supreme Court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Foreign policy wise, it is now clear that John Kerry would have been a better pick. For that matter, nearly anyone would have been a better pick.
An immediate (by the end of February) withdrawal from Iraq would be better than the current policy. An immediate (by the end of February) attack on Iran would be better than the current policy. Bush's current policy of attacking our friends and appeasing our enemies is one of the the worst policies imaginable. Bush, after winning the Iraq War, is doing all he can to lose it.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
"Guerrillas Kill 29 Iraqis Tuesday, Wound over 100 in North; 3 US Servicemen Dead; Kurds Abducting Arabs, Turkmen in Kirkuk," by Juan Cole, Informed Comment, 15 June 2005, http://www.juancole.com/2005/06/guerrillas-kill-29-iraqis-tuesday.html.
Steve Fainaru and Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post report that the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan have used their police and security units in Kirkuk to kidnap hundreds of Arabs and Turkmen in the city. They have been held in prisons outside any legal framework, and some have been tortured. The two intrepid reporters have gotten hold of a US State Department memo on the issue:
'A confidential State Department cable, obtained by The Washington Post and addressed to the White House, Pentagon and U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said the "extra-judicial detentions" were part of a "concerted and widespread initiative" by Kurdish political parties "to exercise authority in Kirkuk in an increasingly provocative manner." '
Kirkuk is a powderkeg. After the fall of Saddam, the city of about 1 million was estimated to be about 1/3 each Turkmen, Arab and Kurdish. But many Arabs have been chased out, and many Kurds have come into the city (in many cases returning to a place from which Saddam had expelled them). Fainaru and Shadid now seem to suggest that the Kurds are about 48 percent of the population, with Turkmen and Arabs a quarter each.
The kidnapping tactics extend to Mosul and perhaps to Tel Afar.
Arab on Kurdish violence could provoke a civil war. Kurdish on Turkmen violence could bring Turkey into northern Iraq, since Ankara sees itself as a protector of Iraq's 750,000 Turkmen.
US military and Kurdish officials denied the abductions or said they had ended, but obviously the State Department does not agree, and Fainaru and Shadid find plenty of evidence that they are continuing.
Good. The 85% of Iraq has been terrorized by an ethnically-based civil war for years. A basic concern for the human rights of Iraqis demands that the 85% fight back.
Juan Cole's ability to delay relay the horror of Iraq, warning of a (future) civil war, is breathtaking.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
"Iraqis Eager to Vote," by "Hindorocket," Power Line, http://powerlineblog.com/archives/009318.php, 25 January 2005.
Power Line passes along results of a poll conducting by an Arabic newspapers on Iraqis' propensity to vote
72.4 % of all of those polled said they would participate in the elections. [Ed.: If so, Iraqi voting will vastly outstrip participation here in the U.S., where 56% of eligible voters contributed to a record turnout in 2004.]
97% of Iraqis in Kurdistan said they would participate in the elections.
96% of Iraqis in the southern provinces (mainly Shiite areas) said they would participate in the elections.
33% of Iraqis in the central provinces (Sunni Area) said they would participate in the elections.
Assuming a 20%/60%/20% Kurdish-Shia-Sunni split, the figures don't quite add up (if the poll was balanced, it should read that 83.6% of Iraqis will vote). But it still gives a good outline of the election results. Running these numbers through OpenOffice.org Calc, and assuming that the election breaks down on ethnic lines, the new body will be 68.9% Shia, 21.2% Kurdish, and 7.9% Sunni.
How will the Shia vote split, between the United Iraqi Alliance and other, more secular parties? Arbitrarily saying it goes 50-50, the new government will look something like
What's quickly obvious is that if the final results are anything like this, three factions will control Iraq: UIA Shia, secular Shia (backers of Allawi's slate?), and the Kurds. The Sunnis are marginalized -- the just result of boycotting the election.
The new Iraqi government will have legitimacy because it is democratically elected. It will have more legitimacy than the Basic Law itself. We have to realize this. If the new government decides to partition Iraq, we should allow it. If the new government decides to forbid terrorist-harboring provinces from vetoing the will of the people, we should allow it.
Nor should we strong-arm the new government to include Sunnis. The new government has to be able to stand-up, and the Shia and Kurdish people will be understandible skeptical of having representatives of a terrorist community in their government.
This is not capricious. Terrorists may swim like fish in a sea, but only because that sea is hospitable to them. Saddam left behind a tribal society, and most Sunni tribes are clearly against us and harbor those who are against the Iraqi people. It is right and just that his has consequences.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Allawi seems to have a fair amount of ruthlessness and smarts but without troops who will fight and die for him - something that springs only from true political legitimacy- it is a paper government. Even Ngo Dinh Diem had a greater core of popular support.
The key will be a true Shiite-Kurdish partnership, if they can get it together enough to move to non-zero sum oriented partnership, there's some real hope for Iraq.
I agree with his thoughts on Allawi. He is also right that a true Shia-Kurdish partnership will mean a very strong an dhappy Iraq. But I believe there are other likely options for Iraq.
I'm not sure that "true political legitimacy" is needed for a real security force, though some sort of organization is. Between the Kurdish peshmerga and the SCIRI Badr Brigade you have an armed and experienced local fighting force. If the Iraqi government is close to failing, I believe that these elements will be relied on.
If the U.S. leaves and then the Iraqi government fails, another possible option is Iranian "peacekeepers."
The anti-Iraqi forces have been largely successful in their goals so far. They have severly disrupted rebuilding efforts while making Sunni lands increasingly lawless. Nonetheless, they have many enemies, and the future they are creating is not one that they will like. And every possible future is better than Saddam's regime.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
"The Salvador Option," by Michael Hirsh and John Barry, Newsweek, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6802629/site/newsweek/, 8 January 2005.
Learning from our success in destroying the communists of El Salvador and the Viet Cong ("Operation: Phoenix"), the Pentagon is thinking of reviving death squads.
Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers.
Our allies are clear
Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen
As our the enemies
to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.
Good. Long live Iraqi democracy and feedom. Death to insurgents.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
"Downsides of Partioning Iraq," by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/downsides-of-partitioning-iraq-some.html, 4 January 2005 (from Andrew Sullivan).
Dr. Juan Cole argues against partioning Iraq. While partitioning as such might not be the best idea (a federal structure with Reconstruction for the Sunni lands makes a lot more sense) his reasoning is wrong, wrong wrong.
Then, how do you split up the resources? If the Sunni Arabs don't get Kirkuk, then they will be poorer than Jordan. Don't you think they will fight for it? The Kurds would fight to the last man for the oil-rich city of Kirkuk if it was a matter of determining in which country it ended up.
If the Kurds got Kirkuk and the Sunni Arabs became a poor cousin to Jordan, the Sunni Arabs would almost certainly turn to al-Qaeda in large numbers. Some Iraqi guerrillas are already talking about hitting back at the US mainland. And, Fallujah is not that far from Saudi Arabia, which Bin Laden wants to hit, as well, especially at the oil. Fallujah Salafis would hook up with those in Jordan and Gaza to establish a radical Sunni arc that would destabilize the entire region.
I think they're already fighting. A civil war has already begun. If pro-Democracy Kurds become rich and pro-Totalitarian Sunnis become "poorer than Jordon," good. Jordon has very limited ability to cause trouble. We do not want to arm our ideological enemies with oil wealth. We have let the Saudis keep their oil wells for fifty years, and it has not been working that well.
Al Qaeda in Iraq (former Monotheism and Jihad) is a leading terrorist organization there now. It is to late to keep them out. Tolerated by the Sunni-Ba'athis under Saddam Hussein, they are organized, motivated, and murderous.
Al Qaeda has already attacked us in our homeland. Sunni Iraqis have already "hook[ed] up with" those in other nations. The first world trade center bombing, for example, was masterminded by an Iraqi. Refusing to recognize that we are at war now and a "radical Sunni arc" is destabilizing the region now is foolishness.
Divorced from the Sunnis, the Shiites of the south would no longer have any counterweight to religious currents like al-Dawa, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and the Sadrists.
The Dawa Party has endorsed the elections. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolutionin Iraq has endorsed the election. Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr are running in the elections. These are the democratic forces in Iraq. Why should they be "counterweighted" by Sunni thugs?
The rump Shiite state would be rich, with the Rumayla and other fields, and might well declare a Shiite Islamic republic.
The fact is the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the most progressive forces in the region. It has an educated and secular population that operates unders a constitutional republic. Iran has our enemies -- they have always opposed the Taliban and the Ba'athi reign of Saddam Hussein. Iran is friends with many of our friends, including Russia and China. Iran has an ability to trascend ideology in its foreign policy (say supporting the Christian Republic of Armenia in its struggles against Azerbaijan, or its support for the "infidel" Alawite Ba'ath Party in Syria) lightyears ahead of Saudi Arabia.
Reality determines policy. Events have conspired to give us and Iran very similar interests. There is no reason to throw that away.
It is being coupled with the Sunnis that mainly keeps them from going down that road. A Shiite South Iraq might make a claim on Shiite Eastern Arabia in Saudi Arabia, or stir up trouble there. The Eastern Province can pump as much as 11% of the world's petroleum.
So Americans would like this scenario why?
This is a reason to support Shia power. By their continued support for repression, terrorism, and hatred, the Saudis have stabbed us in the back. Their interests are not our interests. Spreading a democratic Shia revolution along the Persian Gulf would at worst check Saudi ambitions and at best create a order for that region.
There is more to life than cheap oil. Such as ending the regimes that support terrorism.
The true downside of isolating the Iraqi Sunni remnant is that it would cement the disconnectedness of that region. Before Saddam the Sunnis were the most connected, the most "Core" of Mesopotamia. It is an irony of history that with the liberation, the formerly isolated Kurds and Shia are embracing the world while the formerly secular Sunnis are turning inward.
Disconnnectedness breeds terrorism. Have freed the majority of Iraq's people and wealth, we may have to be content with 4/5ths victory. 4/5ths of the people free. 4/5ths of the wealth out of the hands of outlaws. 1/5th sullent, hateful, and backwards.
If the Palestinian election creates an administration capable of peace, from the Israeli administration to independence will have taken a little less than two generations. Taking freedom's wins in Iraq now, we may have to wait until 2044 to join the world. In the meantime it will continue to be a danger. And if we do leave al-Anbar Province, we will be back.