Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Brits Followed Us into Iraq; Can/Will they Lead Us Out?

Advice to incoming British Prime Minister: The Shiites are the way out of this shit.

I have suggested previously in these pages that an indispensable prerequisite for ending Bush's occupation of Iraq would be establishing a working entente with Shiite firebrand, Moqtada Sadr. Since then I have been spinning my wheels trying to elaborate further on this theme, concise enough for this blog. It's coming, but Alexander Cockburn got there first.
Cockburn is a self-described radical Irish journalist who has lived and worked in the United States since 1973. He co-edits the political newsletter CounterPunch and is frequently published weekly in the Los Angeles Times. In An open letter to the new Prime Minister, pushes for a decisive American tilt in favor of the Shiia in general:

Dear Mr Brown

Peace can only be returned to Iraq by a negotiated end to the occupation and an acceptance by Washington and London that the Shia religious parties, in alliance with the Kurds and influenced by Iran, are going to run the country.

You should take on board simple facts about Iraq that Tony Blair never seemed to grasp. The occupation is disliked by most Shia and Sunni Iraqis and is supported only by the Kurds. When the US and Britain overthrew Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated regime in 2003 they made it inevitable that the majority Shia community would rule and Iranian influence would increase. The contortions of US policy over the past four years are largely a vain attempt to avoid this outcome.

US officials and their Iraqi allies stuck in the Green Zone often take comfort in the fact that many Iraqis want a US pull-out over a period of a year or after Iraqi security forces are ready to take their place. They imagine that this means the Iraqis do not want them to go. The reality is that they do and the continuing presence of foreign forces means the government never learns to stand on its own feet and lives in a dependency culture. Sending in more troops to support a government is like giving a drunk more whisky, as one former senior US intelligence officer said.

The presence of foreign troops and a government dependent on them may delay a final explosion but it makes that final explosion all the more certain. All the talk of creating mixed Sunni-Shia government means stopping any winner emerging in the civil war that has been raging across Iraq since 2004.

The British record in Basra, for instance, has proved more dismal than the US’s in Baghdad. The much-bruited British Operation Sinbad in Basra from September last year until March was talked up by British ministers at the time as an example of how to bring militias under control and strengthen local security forces. A year later it is the Shia militias who rule Basra and the battles between them are about taking over government institutions and resources - notably petrol - out of which they can make money. Racketeers rule the city. British troops are increasingly confined to their compounds and are relentlessly attacked when they leave.

Iraqi politics increasingly resembles Chicago during Prohibition in the 1920s in which criminal mafiosi and politicians are linked together and disputes are settled violently. Turf wars are endemic.

British soldiers now have no role in southern Iraq other than to provide targets. The only reason for them to stay is that the White House does not want to be wholly bereft of allies on the ground, and it would be embarrassing to admit the futility of the British presence over the past four years.

Okay, okay. Cockburn doesn't actually go so far as to even mention Moqtada Sadr by name. I'm jes' sayin' that's what he means. Sadr's the one. He is the thug we need.

11 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Suzie-Q said...

Let's hope we get our troops out of Iraq asap!

Bring em home now!

7/01/2007 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous pekka said...

Of course, Moqtada Sadr has been calling the shots for ages, both behind and front of the scenes. However, Bush has made his astute strategic and political analysis about Sadr being irrelevant unlike Sadr's hand puppet, Maliki. Following this particular twisted logic and not quite being sure what Bush's real aim might be, I don't see Sadr getting invitations to the ranch any time soon. Besides, Sadr is not willing to become somebody's puppet which must be the number one requirement to acquire any job with Bush&Co. Furthermore, Bush always picks the worst option in the mistaken belief that his fortunes are about to turn better. This has been exactly his patented recipe that has lead all the bad things to be getting progressively worse. He will always find enough of brown-noses around him to tell about the virtue of staying the course. I believe in miracles in some instances as long as they don't include G.W.Bush.

7/01/2007 08:43:00 PM  
Blogger M.D. said...

Prime Minister Moqtada Sadr... has a nice ring to it.

7/01/2007 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger Messenger said...

Pekka touches on where the rubber meets the road, IMO: we are currently as far from withdrawing from our occupation from Iraqi as we are from removing Bush and Cheney from office. Their policy in the Middle East is driven by the Israeli and oil lobbies. That means busting Iran is their ultimate goal. The Shia are seen - by them - as synonymous with Persians. This is the line of the White House's buddies, the Sunnis, and it has been swallowed, hook, line and sinker. Cockburn has it right when he says,

The contortions of US policy over the past four years are largely a vain attempt to avoid this outcome.

The Shia won the election. They want us out. Elections have consequences.

7/01/2007 09:47:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

As the situation in Iraq has fallen out of the frying pan into the fire before Saddam was killed I've heard people only half joke that we just should have cleaned Saddam up and put him back in charge. That it would take a blood thirsty thug to separate and control those groups.
With Saddam now in a really hot climate looking up and laughing his ass off at us Vigil is right, Sadr fits the bill. Of course, if were to leave with him sitting in the PM chair the Saudis would have a cow.

7/02/2007 05:08:00 AM  
Blogger Larry said...

Since the supposed terror attacks in Britain, they will very probably continue their strive for World War with Bush.

7/02/2007 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger DB Cooper said...

Why do Vigilante and Messenger have to be so unremittingly oppositional? Don't they read and hear that our intelligence reveals all of the anti-American violence is caused by Iran's Qods Force and all them Iranian-backed Lebanese Shi'ite militia group Hezbollah fellas?

7/02/2007 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Boris said...

"Our American intelligence"? Excuse me, but until the roles of Wolfowitz, Feith, Perle and Ledeen getting us into Iraq are fully disclosed, I'm not about to believe any bullshit labeled by Washington as 'intelligence'. Fool me once, this bad, Bushitters, and you are fucking incredible.

7/02/2007 09:45:00 AM  
Blogger MadMike said...

Moqtada Sada? Isn't that a line from the musical score of The Lion King? Of course that is unlikely, about as unlikely as Great Britain withdrawing their troops anytime soon. The two countries are old and strong allies. While there is not always agreement there is always that loyalty.

7/02/2007 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Here's the sad fact. All the arguments about who is right, who is wrong and what is best don't really matter. In order to impact the outcome of the civil war in Iraq, caused by the incompetence and greed of GW Bush, we would need invest three times as many troops as we have. Bush broke Iraq, and unjust as it seems, the US lacks the military capability to fix it.

7/02/2007 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Speaking for Sadr's 32-member parliamentary bloc, Nassar Al Rubaie, said that they would not support any law that would allow firms

"whose governments are occupying Iraq. . . The most serious problem with the law is the production-sharing agreements, which we categorically reject . . . would undermine Iraq's sovereignty in the short run and will strip it of its sovereignty in the long run."

Al Bawaba

7/06/2007 07:17:00 AM  

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