Thursday, August 23, 2007

Our New Partner for Peace in Iraq

Izzat Al-Douri, one of Saddam Hussein's inner circle and the "King of Clubs" on the famous card deck of America's most wanted in Iraq, has announced that his group will work directly with the U.S. to purge Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Until recently, the Baathists (Saddam's former party) had formed an alliance of convenience with Al-Qaeda in Iraq in order to fight both the U.S. occupation and the current Iraqi government.

The reasons for their alliance, and its unraveling, are complex. The Baathists are drawn from Iraq's minority Sunni Arab population, but are mostly secular and had little use for the hyper-Sunni Al-Qaeda while Saddam was in control. The Sunni Arabs ruled over the majority Shia Arabs and the Kurds with an iron fist under Saddam. Now that the Shia control the government, extra-judicial payback was occurring with secret help from government officials. The Sunnis turned to Al-Qaeda as a possible force to protect them now that the Baathists were too weak to do so alone. They now see that as a mistake. Al-Qaeda inflamed the Shias even more with brutal terror attacks on civilians and government targets alike. In addition, the Sunni Arabs soon found that though they thought they were inviting in protectors, what they got were lords. Lords who enforced hyper-strict religious codes and who were almost as quick to turn their guns on the Sunnis as they were to massacre Shia civilians.

In the midst of that, America has changed tactics and started buying off the Sunni tribes with offers of infrastructure improvements and even weapons. The Sunni realized that the tyrants from Al-Qaeda could not protect them, and in fact could not even protect themselves against U.S. forces. They did what Arab tribes in the region have been doing for centuries- they switched sides. They are helping to drive Al-Qaeda back out of Sunni Iraq.

If this allows us to declare victory and go home, I am all for it. It does raise some questions though. If we are going to have to turn to Saddam's henchmen to get Al-Qaeda out of Iraq, then why did we overthrow the government in the first place? We are now arming the Sunnis and are basically creating another militia. How does the government of Iraq feel about that? And how long can we buy their love? Al-Qaeda had lost most of its taste for taking on our troops in Iraq anyway. They preferred to slaughter civilians. 73% of the attacks on our troops are now from Shia militias who have infiltrated the police and the army. What do we do about them? About the Iranians who are sending them weapons? We are giving many sides weapons, including tribes that were allied with Saddam. Is it only OK to hand out weapons when we do it?

Our present policy of distributing guns to all sides willing to fight Al-Qaeda is working to eradicate Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and that is a great thing. It is not going to help bring stability to Iraq though. Imagine you are one of the sane families in a neighborhood of crazy idiots. Someone wants a certain criminal family dead so bad that they hand out guns to everyone who is willing to fight with them. Hey, its good the criminals are gone, but now all the crazies have more guns than ever. Do you, as one of the sane families, feel more secure?

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kinda like equipping one LA street gang to fight another.

Real brilliant. An act of desperation, no doubt. Bush and his new Iraq czar are grasping at straws.

Where have we seen this tactic before...? Oh yeah- when the US CIA backed militias in Afghanistan headed up by an unknown wahabist named Osama Bin Laden! Worked real well then, didn't it?

4:22 PM, August 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our new go-to guy is one of the guys we went over there to get in the first place!

4:58 PM, August 23, 2007  

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