Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Will the Center Hold in Iraq?

Don't bet on it.

Bush's arrangement of the deck chairs on the Iraqitanic is irrelevant because ship is listing. The erratic heeling of this crippled craft is due to the untethered ballast below decks in the hold which is fluid, loose and moves unpredictably with each wave against the hull.

Bush's Officer-of-the-Deck, into whose eyes he looked in June and who he proclaimed to be 'the right man for Iraq', does not now want to serve out his term as Prime Minister. Instead, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has made it clear he dislikes being the country's leader and longs to leave Office before his four-year term ends in 2010.
I wish I could be done with it even before the end of this term. . . I didn't want to take this position. . . I only agreed because I thought it would serve the national interest, and I will not accept it again.
Late last year, the New York Times published a memo from the White House national security adviser which contained a withering analysis of his leadership. It described him as
. . . a leader who wanted to be strong but was having difficulty figuring out how to do so . . . .
So much for Bush's man in Iraq. But how about that moving ballast below decks? They are not the shy and retiring types are they?

Take Moqtada Al Sadr. Several times the Anglo-American coalition has made hints towards moving against the Mehdi army, but they never have taken him on directly. Tensions rose again this August, and some sources said U.S. and Iraqi forces had decided to mount an offensive against al-Sadr with the intent to kill him. But in October 2006, he made public appearances with the current president of Iraq which raised his stature and perceived influence in Malicki's government.

His demands are clear: he wants a time table for American withdrawal; otherwise he will not play ball with the elected deck furniture. He told Newsweek on 8-May-06:
. . . things became clear and resulted in the Sadr trend—a powerful, loyal political and military force. I reach out my hand to cooperate and to make peace in Iraq, to drive away the shadow of the armies of darkness. The occupation is the creator of all problems. I pray to Allah to take away the problems and their creator.

Their threats are still on, and my life is cheap as a price for the service of Islam. America is baring its teeth against Shiite mosques and sanctuaries.

There is no Sunni or Shia resistance; there is an Iraqi Islamic resistance.

There is only an incomplete sovereignty in Iraq, which means that the occupation is the decision maker. Any attack is their responsibility. The U.S. ambassador and Rumsfeld have ignited the sectarian crisis here.

Everyone builds Iraq the way he sees fit. The most important issue is the timetable for the U.S. withdrawal. We know there will be no justice under occupation, at any time and any place. In fact, there will be no stability for anyone, since Iraq defines the destiny of the world.
And in the stormy aftermath of Saddam's hanging, the Sunni Baathists announced their appointment of Hussein's former deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, as its new leader. Mr Douri was the thin, red-headed dapper-clothed figure of military stature, usually seen wearing a military-style beret. Douri was the King of Clubs in the US military's deck of cards and still has a $10 million award on his head. This is the same guy whom the Los Angeles Times just last Sunday pronounced as having been killed sometime in 2005. This announcement of his death seems to have been premature.

He has had national control of the Baath party and its insurgency since Saddam Hussein's capture in December 2003. In an internet statement posted Tuesday, this fugitive deputy vowed that Saddam's execution would only strengthen the anti-US insurgency. As the most senior leader of the ousted regime still at large, Douri called for the formation of a broad resistance front to free Iraq from US occupation:
Saddam Hussein`s assassination at the criminal hands of the US administration and its English, Zionist and Persian Safavid allies will only strengthen the determination of the Baath, its people and the Arab nation to wage jihad and resistance until the enemy is destroyed and Iraq liberated . . . .

I call on the valiant commanders of the jihad and the brave fighters in all jihadi groups to strive seriously to create a jihad and resistance front .. in order to destroy the enemy and liberate our beloved homeland . . . .

. . . .I vow to pursue the sacred jihad and step it up until the total liberation of our homeland. . . .

From this it is understood that Douri is appealing to his following among the Baathists and the Sunni clans to heed Saddam's last demands to quit the anti-Shiia strikes and instead to unite behind national front to avenge and expel Iraq's invaders.
Whether bridges across the sectarian divides can be built remains to be seen. But, I submit, Douri and Al Sadr will be around after Maliki withdraws or is erased from the scene.

15 Moderated Comments:

Blogger GetaLife-ReadUrNews said...

Malicki's so much in a hurry to spend more time with his family that he doesn't care about getting his Medal of Freedom.

1/04/2007 12:01:00 AM  
Anonymous pekka said...

It all boils down to - who has the highest tolerance for pain? As it is now, my prediction is; the lowest treshold is with the Americans and the "Iraqi Government".

Think about it, why would the characters like al-Sadr and al-Douri suddenly feel the need to vanish? That's their stomping ground and Iraq is there to be won by those who have the muscle, support and desire. These guys have it and it remains to be seen how will they and the others settle the pecking order. What seem blatantly clear is, that the U.S. with it's ever shrinking tolerance for pain (in Iraq or at home) is not one of the players left to enjoy the spoils of the victory.

Does anybody know how many zeros there is in a trillion?

1/04/2007 12:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lots of Trillions have been tossed around because of the war. Dig a hole, move the dirt, then dig another hole to fill up the hole you dug.
That is how our economy works its dollar business.
The law of unexpected consequences takes over in most situations where all the decisions are poorly made.
Fasten seat-belts. An 'accident' with devastating effects will now happen to the U.S. - Stupidity has its costs.
Americans = Americanus Stupidicus.
An interesting breed of passive aggressive , hate-mongering bigots that think they are smart.
America the Pitiful. Blessed with resources though .
Iraq will further go into chaos. Will that matter to most.? It has not struck a chord for Americans yet.
As long as the trans-fats are running down their throats, and the beer is flowing, Americans will passively totter off into the future , while Iraq burns.
We burned it. Look in the mirror , my fellow Americans.

1/04/2007 07:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pekka is, of course, right again. "who has the highest tolerance for pain?"

It certainly isn't the United States!! Look for Congress to fight Bush every step of the way over the next two years.

Cindy Sheehan set the tone for the next two years yesterday.

Whether we want to face these facts or not, all al-Sadr and al-Douri have to do is lay low for the next 24 months or so.... then they can divide Iraq any way they chose... or they can fight to the death while a few reamining U.S. or U.N. troops watch from afar.

the Wizard......

1/04/2007 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER & Hillblogger Jr said...

Re: "Saddam Hussein`s assassination at the criminal hands of the US administration and its English,...blah, blah."

Just want to set the record straight Vigilante.

Fugitive Douri's qualifying of criminal Tony Blair's Labour govt as English is complete utter load of rubbish! Tony Blair (a Scot) and his mostly Scot-Northern Irish Labour government are no more English than my Australian Silky Terrier!

Agree however that useless Margaret Beckett happens to be English in criminal Tony Blair-led UK Labour govt.

1/04/2007 07:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have some sympathy for Maliki and what he is facing in his sinking ship of state. Stuck in middle between his Shiite power base and their desire to run the show in Iraq after so many years of Sunni dominance on one side and Bush and his fantasies on the other.

1/04/2007 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

That's rich, Hills: If you can blame Iraquagmire on the Scots, we can blame Iraq-nam, as well as Vietnam, on the Texans. Why didn't we think of this before?

1/04/2007 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Pekka and Wizard, I'm not sure it comes down to who can bear more pain. In a real sense, Iraqis and born more by a gazillion percentage. Moreover, the pain threshold tests suggests a test of manhood, machismo. As long as you put it like that we are locked into Bush's stay-the-course contest: who's going to take his hand off the stove first. The current Anglo-American generation has not been tested to the degree that the Greatest Generation was in World War II. But, there is no doubt in my mind that we would be up to it if we were, (given better leadership, that is).

The obvious factor can be called the luxury of having the option of last recourse: what did the French have that the Algerians and Indochinese didn't? What did the Russians have that the Afghans did not have? What did the British have that the our American forefathers didn't have? What did we have that the Viet Cong did not have? What do we current Americans have that Iraqis do not have?

They had the option of ending the occupation and leaving. The Iraqis cannot leave (although many of them have been trying for a time out in Jordan).

It does not come down to a pain-tolerance gap; it comes down to a gap in options.

I think it is time to take that option.

1/04/2007 08:59:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Beach, if Maliki survives until we pull out - which is doubtful - I'm sure there'll be a rung for him on the rope ladder hanging from the last helicopter lifting off from Hotel Baghdad.

1/04/2007 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Etzel Pangloss said...

With barely a professional person left in Iraq and the sunni/shia, Arab/Persian schism exagerated to a position not seen in a over a 1000 years, the killing fields have hardly begun.

p.s. The world over the world over the UK is thought of as England.

1/04/2007 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

George Will writes
Imagine a third nation's army operating between -- and against -- both the German and Russian forces in Stalingrad. That might be akin to the mission of troops sent in any surge.

1/07/2007 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Stella said...

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

-- William Butler Yeats

1/09/2007 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Stunning, Stella, stunning. You never fail to bring both the heat and the light with you. . .

1/10/2007 06:06:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

I.P.:

I really feel the only way Bush can save his corrupt mission is to use the U.S. military for the purposes it was intended. It was not intended as an occupational force. It's a fighting machine. He has to go to war in Iraq again. He has to pick a side, Sunni or Shi'ia. Obviously, it can't be the Sunni (a minority without oil). So, he has to pitch in with the Shi'ia militias (or 'police' if you prefer). If this results in ethnic cleansing, all you can say is shit happens.

But, I don't think the Saudis will let Cheney let Bush do what has to be done.

So, the optimal 'stratergy' would be to get out now and not get any more blood on our hands.

1/10/2007 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Messenger said...

Careful, Vigil, here's a story that indicates that Cheney's 'office' is entertaining a pro-Shiite, anti-Sunni tilt on the part of the U.S. Military: other than considering the company you're in, this idea contains certain liabilities.

1/11/2007 09:49:00 PM  

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