?

Log in

No account? Create an account
oh, oh - The Criminal Heart [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
mojrim

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

oh, oh [Jun. 11th, 2007|03:19 pm]
mojrim
My gut hurts from laughing.

From NYT

By John F. Burns and Alissa J. Rubin

BAGHDAD, June 10 — With the four-month-old increase in American troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy that they acknowledge is fraught with risk: arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight militants linked with Al Qaeda who have been their allies in the past.

American commanders say they have successfully tested the strategy in Anbar Province west of Baghdad and have held talks with Sunni groups in at least four areas of central and north-central Iraq where the insurgency has been strong. In some cases, the American commanders say, the Sunni groups are suspected of involvement in past attacks on American troops or of having links to such groups. Some of these groups, they say, have been provided, usually through Iraqi military units allied with the Americans, with arms, ammunition, cash, fuel and supplies.

American officers who have engaged in what they call outreach to the Sunni groups say many of them have had past links to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia but grew disillusioned with the Islamic militants’ extremist tactics, particularly suicide bombings that have killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. In exchange for American backing, these officials say, the Sunni groups have agreed to fight Al Qaeda and halt attacks on American units. Commanders who have undertaken these negotiations say that in some cases, Sunni groups have agreed to alert American troops to the location of roadside bombs and other lethal booby traps.

But critics of the strategy, including some American officers, say it could amount to the Americans’ arming both sides in a future civil war. The United States has spent more than $15 billion in building up Iraq’s army and police force, whose manpower of 350,000 is heavily Shiite. With an American troop drawdown increasingly likely in the next year, and little sign of a political accommodation between Shiite and Sunni politicians in Baghdad, the critics say, there is a risk that any weapons given to Sunni groups will eventually be used against Shiites. There is also the possibility the weapons could be used against the Americans themselves.

American field commanders met this month in Baghdad with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, to discuss the conditions Sunni groups would have to meet to win American assistance. Senior officers who attended the meeting said that General Petraeus and the operational commander who is the second-ranking American officer here, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, gave cautious approval to field commanders to negotiate with Sunni groups in their areas.

One commander who attended the meeting said that despite the risks in arming groups that have until now fought against the Americans, the potential gains against Al Qaeda were too great to be missed. He said the strategy held out the prospect of finally driving a wedge between two wings of the Sunni insurgency that had previously worked in a devastating alliance — die-hard loyalists of Saddam Hussein’s formerly dominant Baath Party, and Islamic militants belonging to a constellation of groups linked to Al Qaeda.

Even if only partly successful, the officer said, the strategy could do as much or more to stabilize Iraq, and to speed American troops on their way home, as the increase in troops ordered by President Bush late last year, which has thrown nearly 30,000 additional American troops into the war but failed so far to fulfill the aim of bringing enhanced stability to Baghdad. An initial decline in sectarian killings in Baghdad in the first two months of the troop buildup has reversed, with growing numbers of bodies showing up each day in the capital. Suicide bombings have dipped in Baghdad but increased elsewhere, as Qaeda groups, confronted with great American troop numbers, have shifted their operations elsewhere.

The strategy of arming Sunni groups was first tested earlier this year in Anbar Province, the desert hinterland west of Baghdad, and attacks on American troops plunged after tribal sheiks, angered by Qaeda strikes that killed large numbers of Sunni civilians, recruited thousands of men to join government security forces and the tribal police. With Qaeda groups quitting the province for Sunni havens elsewhere, Anbar has lost its long-held reputation as the most dangerous place in Iraq for American troops.

Now, the Americans are testing the “Anbar model” across wide areas of Sunni-dominated Iraq. The areas include parts of Baghdad, notably the Sunni stronghold of Amiriya, a district that flanks the highway leading to Baghdad’s international airport; the area south of the capital in Babil province known as the Triangle of Death, site of an ambush in which four American soldiers were killed last month and three others abducted, one of whose bodies was found in the Euphrates; Diyala Province north and east of Baghdad, an area of lush palm groves and orchards which has replaced Anbar as Al Qaeda’s main sanctuary in Iraq; and Salahuddin Province, also north of Baghdad, the home area of Saddam Hussein.

Although the American engagement with the Sunni groups has brought some early successes against Al Qaeda, particularly in Anbar, many of the problems that hampered earlier American efforts to reach out to insurgents remain unchanged. American commanders say the Sunni groups they are negotiating with show few signs of wanting to work with the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. For their part, Shiite leaders are deeply suspicious of any American move to co-opt Sunni groups that are wedded to a return to Sunni political dominance.

With the agreement to arm some Sunni groups, the Americans also appear to have made a tacit recognition that earlier demands for the disarming of Shiite militia groups are politically unachievable for now given the refusal of powerful Shiite political parties to shed their armed wings. In effect, the Americans seem to have concluded that as long as the Shiites maintain their militias, Shiite leaders are in a poor position to protest the arming of Sunni groups whose activities will be under close American scrutiny.

But officials of Mr. Maliki’s government have placed strict limits on the Sunni groups they are willing to countenance as allies in the fight against Al Qaeda. One leading Shiite politician, Sheik Khalik al-Atiyah, the deputy Parliament speaker, said in a recent interview that he would rule out any discussion of an amnesty for Sunni Arab insurgents, even those who commit to fighting Al Qaeda. Similarly, many American commanders oppose rewarding Sunni Arab groups who have been responsible, even tangentially, for any of the more than 29,000 American casualties in the war, including more than 3,500 deaths. Equally daunting for American commanders is the risk that Sunni groups receiving American backing could effectively double-cross the Americans, taking weapons and turning them against American and Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government forces.

Americans officers acknowledge that providing weapons to breakaway rebel groups is not new in counterinsurgency warfare, and that in places where it has been tried before, including the French colonial war in Algeria, the British-led fight against insurgents in Malaya in the early 1950s, and in Vietnam, the effort often backfired, with weapons given to the rebels being turned against the forces providing them. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the Third Infantry Division and leader of an American task force fighting in a wide area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers immediately south of Baghdad, said at a briefing for reporters on Sunday that no American support would be given to any Sunni group that had attacked Americans. If the Americans negotiating with Sunni groups in his area had “specific information” that the group or any of its members had killed Americans, he said, “The negotiation is going to go like this: ‘You’re under arrest, and you’re going with me.’ I’m not going to go out and negotiate with folks who have American blood on their hands.”

One of the conditions set by the American commanders who met in Baghdad was that any group receiving weapons must submit its fighters for biometric tests that would include taking fingerprints and retinal scans. The American conditions, senior officers said, also include registering the serial numbers of all weapons, steps the Americans believe will help in tracing fighters who use the weapons in attacks against American or Iraqi troops. The fighters who have received American backing in the Amiriya district of Baghdad were required to undergo the tests, the officers said.

The requirement that no support be given to insurgent groups that have attacked Americans appeared to have been set aside or loosely enforced in negotiations with the Sunni groups elsewhere, including Amiriya, where American units that have supported Sunni groups fighting to oust Al Qaeda have told reporters they believe that the Sunni groups include insurgents who had fought the Americans. The Americans have bolstered Sunni groups in Amiriya by empowering them to detain suspected Qaeda fighters and approving ammunition supplies to Sunni fighters from Iraqi Army units.

In Anbar, there have been negotiations with factions from the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a Sunni insurgent group with strong Baathist links that has a history of attacking Americans. In Diyala, insurgents who have joined the Iraqi Army have told reporters that they switched sides after working for the 1920 group. And in an agreement announced by the American command on Sunday, 130 tribal sheiks in Salahuddin met in the provincial capital, Tikrit, to form police units that would “defend” against Al Qaeda.

General Lynch said American commanders would face hard decisions in choosing which groups to support. “This isn’t a black and white place,” he said. “There are good guys and bad guys and there are groups in between,” and separating them was a major challenge. He said some groups that had approached the Americans had made no secret of their enmity.

“They say, ‘We hate you because you are occupiers’ ” he said, “ ‘but we hate Al Qaeda worse, and we hate the Persians even more.’ ” Sunni militants refer to Iraq’s Shiites as Persians, a reference to the strong links between Iraqi Shiites and the Shiites who predominate in Iran.

An Iraqi government official who was reached by telephone on Sunday said the government was uncomfortable with the American negotiations with the Sunni groups because they offered no guarantee that the militias would be loyal to anyone other than the American commander in their immediate area. “The government’s aim is to disarm and demobilize the militias in Iraq,” said Sadiq al-Rikabi, a political adviser to Mr. Maliki. “And we have enough militias in Iraq that we are struggling now to solve the problem. Why are we creating new ones?”

Despite such views, General Lynch said, the Americans believed that Sunni groups offering to fight Al Qaeda and halt attacks on American and Iraqi forces met a basic condition for re-establishing stability in insurgent-hit areas: they had roots in the areas where they operated, and thus held out the prospect of building security from the ground up. He cited areas in Babil Province where there were “no security forces, zero, zilch,” and added: “When you’ve got people who say, ‘I want to protect my neighbors,’ we ought to jump like a duck on a june bug.”

Damien Cave and Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: sarmonster
2007-06-11 08:59 pm (UTC)
Teh S700pid, It's spreading.

DON'T THEY FUCKING REMEMBER WHAT BROUGHT US TO IRAQ IN THE FIRST PLACE?! We gave people weapons? They used them? Then they used them on people we didn't want them used on?

Biometrics? And WHO, may I ask will have access to this information? I'll give it two months and there'll be a leak, any sunni involved in this will get taken out or be forced into hiding. I'm thinking they WANT to lose this thing.

Boot to the head all around.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mojrim
2007-06-11 09:35 pm (UTC)
After all, it worked sooooo well in France in WWII.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: intrepid_reason
2007-06-11 09:06 pm (UTC)
Isn't this how we helped Hussien into office?
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mojrim
2007-06-11 09:33 pm (UTC)
It's a myth that we put him into power. He was a creature of the pan-Arabist Baath Party, which stepped into the post-Ottoman vacuum after WWI. This group siezed power after the fall of a British puppet government under a Heshemite prince from the peninsula.

We did, however, help him kill Persians.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: intrepid_reason
2007-06-11 10:12 pm (UTC)
I thought we supplied him with the weapons and some money which allowed him to sieze power.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: pseudogoth23
2007-06-11 11:17 pm (UTC)
There's some evidence that the CIA was involved with the Iraqi Baathists as a "hey, if you're not working for the Soviets we might want to help you" sort of thing during the Cold War, but our major support of Saddam's regime came during the Iran-Iraq war (note the infamous Rumsfeld/Hussein handshake), as was mentioned, and we didn't play a major role in his rise to power.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: intrepid_reason
2007-06-11 11:49 pm (UTC)
Hmm I'd be curious where the supporting material is for this info. It looks like I am going to have to dust off my researching skills, and become better informed on this. CSM here I come.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mojrim
2007-06-12 04:26 am (UTC)
The best history I've yet seen is John Keegan's "The Iraq War" About the first 1/3 of the book is background, starting in 1918.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: intrepid_reason
2007-06-12 08:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: pseudogoth23
2007-06-11 11:08 pm (UTC)
It's actually not as stupid an idea as it sounds, provided that they deliver on their end of the promise (get rid of Al Qaeda in Iraq, plzkthx), and we deliver on our end of implied promise (get the hell out of Iraq- I'll get back to this in a bit).

The problem is that what we have in Iraq right now is classic Hobbesian bellum omnium contra omnes, thanks to the incompetence of the neocons in handling this war, because the state's broken down with nothing to replace it. (The fact that I as a liberal understand Burke on the French Revolution better than people with "conservative" in their ideological faction name still boggles my mind.) Right now, your options in Anbar for re-establishing any civl order and rooting out AQI ARE the Sunni clans and militias, because we've already TRIED various mode of fighting these folks, and all it's done is turn Fallujah to rubble piles without eliminating the terrorists, and it's had the added bonus of getting the Sunni clans shooting at US. This is a great place for AQI to exist, as you will note that Al Qaeda (senior version, before they franchised it) flourished in Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan. Failed states, all of them- and Iraq is the motherlode as far as they are concerned.

Besides, what, pray tell, ARE the other options? The Iraqi Army? It's basically a Shiite militia. Good luck with that. Besides, right now the Iraqi PM is for all intents and purposes the Mayor of the Green Zone (and not even really that, since the US is really in control there). We've already seen what the results are with the US trying to insitute Potemkin governments in the Sunni areas: they collapse as illegitimate (because the Iraqis are not interested in Quisling governments that are tools of the Infidels, in their view), once we redeploy troops out of the area to play whack-a-mole. There is no viable other option here.

In essence, we are stealth partitioning Iraq into 3 parts (Hey! Just like Gaul...)- Kurdish, Sunni and Shia. Our goals at this point should be pretty much making deals with ANYONE who can do a reasonable job of pacifying a region of Iraq, and then getting the fuck out of Dodge before Act II, when the inevitable civil wars/ethnic cleansing pops up (it's already started, but I imagine it will start in force once we leave) ala Lebanon from 1975 to 1990.

Eventually, at some point, there will be an accomodation similar to Lebanon and a wary armistice. It will suck for the Iraqis, but I have zero faith in the ability of our totally incompetent political leadership to solve this problem (and I include a lot of Democrats in on this one- I'm convinced Hillary Clinton will have us at war with Iran TOO in 2 years if she's President, and God help us if we're still in Iraq then), and given that, there is no point to us being in Iraq refereeing a civil war. You will note that very few analysts, politicians or members of the chattering classes endorse this, with even the Democrats saying we need rump forces and implicitly endorsing bases, but since they have largely been wrong about Iraq for the last 5 years, we shouldn't be listening to them anyway.

The problem is our future plans involve huge-ass bases in Iraq. This is madness (except for POSSIBLY in Kurdistan, which might help as a tripwire for the Turks and the Kurds that they won't cross- another problem we're about to blunder into). We weren't safe in fucking SAUDI ARABIA, which IS a fully functioning state (however vile and repressive it might be). Iraq won't be one for years, and there are many, many Iraqis who hate us, with good reason- the only thing worse than being an imperialist is being an INCOMPETENT imperialist. We might as well hand maps and bombs to Al Qaeda and any future Islamic terror group to save time.

I recommend reading some Bill Lind on this. Specifically this, this, and this.
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mojrim
2007-06-12 04:36 am (UTC)
Frankly, there are no "victory" options on the table at this point and I doubt there ever were. Iraq is a fake country, created by the british FO, in the same half-assed sweep as Jordan, Syria, and Israel/Palestine. No "Iraqis of good will" step forward because there is no such thing as an Iraqi to begin with. The Ottomans governed it as three seperate provences for good reason.

I can't agree about SA. Like every other state in the region (except, perhaps, the UAE) it's a fake, with no general agreement on it's means or ends. The only thing holding that dump togather is oil money used to bribe the populace into complasiance, and that's been shrinking for 20 years. The House of Saud is generally regarded as corrupt and heretical, and it's only a matter of time before they end up on the block.

That said, the only choice we have left in Iraq is how bad a defeat we want. Arming another group, training another security force, emboldening the Kurds... all this only makes the train wreck that much uglier when it comes. None of these things has the slightest chance of changing the strategic result. At present AQ and the rest are an Arab issue, not an Islamic issue. The longer we stay in Iraq, the more we tilt it toward becoming the latter.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: pseudogoth23
2007-06-12 06:02 am (UTC)
Frankly, there are no "victory" options on the table at this point and I doubt there ever were. Iraq is a fake country, created by the british FO, in the same half-assed sweep as Jordan, Syria, and Israel/Palestine. No "Iraqis of good will" step forward because there is no such thing as an Iraqi to begin with. The Ottomans governed it as three seperate provences for good reason.

Oh, I don't disagree with you and ANY of your points. Basically, dealcutting with the Shia and Sunni power centers that are left in Iraq is meant as an alternative to a sauve qui peut rout where we basically run for the Kuwaiti border and send in the helicopters to the US Embassy when the shit finally hits the fan (my guess is the way this happens is some idiot in the White House decides it's time for Richard and Paul's Stupid Neocon Adventure, Mk II, and decides it's time to bomb Iran, and then the Iranians decide to give us a taste of what Hezbollah handed Israel last summer in Lebanon). The point is trying to restore SOMETHING resembling a civil society in Anbar and other Sunni provinces so that we aren't doing a withdrawal under fire, even if it's an ugly theocracy.... but at least there will be a legitimate "government" in terms of the monopoly of force (this of course depends on us hightailing it out so there really IS a monopoly, and not being there to rub our occupier status in their faces).

Eventually, I would see us having to make the same sort of deal with al-Sadr, and let the Maliki government twist in the wind- we leave, they promise to keep the internal fighting out of our way as we leave.

I do not see these as good options, because there will be blowback, merely the least bad ones. The good options mostly involve time machines and kidnapping most of the US Government and holding them in a CIA facility in Eastern Europe from June 2002 to March 2003, and installing SANE people into office, and perhaps using "enhanced interrogation" to find out how they became so deluded.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: pseudogoth23
2007-06-12 06:05 am (UTC)
Oh, and my point on the Saudis is simply that we couldn't keep our troops safe there...and there weren't bombers blowing themselves up in downtown Riyadh every day. Thinking that bases in Iraq are nothing other than deathtraps for soldiers is insane.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mojrim
2007-06-12 03:59 pm (UTC)
At this point I don't think our personnel will be safe anywhere, except perhaps at a US embassy in Theran; Iran being the only nation-state in that region. Of course, anyone we elect will probably have us at war with them within a couple years, so scratch that notion.

The best options I see at this stage are either (a) siezing and destroying every weapon we can get our hands on before running like gazelle or (b) passing out AK's and ammo like candy before running like gazelle. Opt (a) reduces the bloodshed but grants a monopoly on power to someone (we won't get to decide) while opt (b) at least uts everyone on equal footing. A civil order will emerge a few years after we leave in any case, just one we don't like very much.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: pseudogoth23
2007-06-12 07:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I'm basically arguing for (b), on the grounds that a "let us get out and we'll make sure you're in decent shape for the next round" will at least have the potential on cutting down on American casualties, and I have no confidence that we can execute (a) competently, because that was what we've essentially been doing after the Iraqi arms depots, etc. got looted in April-June 2003- trying to disarm and disable various Iraqi factions... and it's gotten us nowhere.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: mojrim
2007-06-13 02:49 am (UTC)
I actually vote for option (c) which is cust and run, burning everything we csn't load quickly. The other two merely prolong the bleeding and make us look more complicit in the bloodbath which follows.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)