Iraq’s Wars

This piece by Patrick Cockburn in The Independent is getting play in the b-sphere. Particularly this ending:

When the US and Britain invaded Iraq, they started three wars. The first is the insurgency in the Sunni community against the American occupation; the second the struggle by the Iraqi Shia, sixty per cent of the population, allied to the Kurds, to take control of the Iraqi state, previously controlled by the Sunni; and the third a proxy war between the US and Iran about which of them is to have predominant influence in Iraq.

With all due respect to Cockburn (he is along with Nir Rosen the best reporter on Iraq in the Western language press) he’s forgetting some wars in Iraq.

–The Kurdish War.
An actual sorta side-war (or bombing campaign) by Turkey in Kurdish territory. And the possibility of a a widening Arab/Turkomen vs. Kurd showdown over Kirkuk.

–The intra-Shia Civil War
Sadr vs. Hakim/Maliki (Mahdi Army vs. Badr Corps/Iraqi Army). This is part of what Cockburn is calling the Third War but more than simply an Iranian/American proxy fight. Because whose America’s proxy in this fight (the Sadrists are for American withdrawal, the Badrists were created in Iran).

–The intra-Sunni war. The Caliphate-seeking al-Qaeda versus the Awakening Tribes. Another round in that battle today it would appear.

In fact it’s arguable that Cockburn’s first war (the Sunni insurgency) is over which came at the price of US recognition of the Sunni community arming/defending itself, that the Sunnis were using al-Qaeda in Iraq for their own political ends, and could be bought off. At the price of further de-stabilization/fragmentation of the government. That war could re-ignite as America withdraws.

But PC’s War #2 (Shia control over Sunni) is bound to re-start as America withdraws. Both sides are armed and itching for a fight.

War #3 obviously holds the potential for destabilization of the entire Middle East and Southwestern Asia. With the possibility of Iranian backed asymmetrical counterattacks (to say an Israeli or US strike) from Afghanistan to Palestine and everywhere in between (Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria).

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