Draft Iraq-US Security Agreement

Agreed to in principle.  Patrick Cockburn has the details.

Iraq and the United States have finally agreed on a security pact which would mean that US forces would withdraw from Iraq by 2011, American and Iraqi officials said yesterday.

And snuck at the bottom but extremely important:

The US has given ground on crucial issues. On the legal immunity of American troops Mr Dabbagh said: “Inside their bases, they will be under American law. Iraqi judicial law will be implemented in case these forces commit a serious and deliberate felony outside their military bases and when off duty.” Contractors, who have more men in Iraq than the US army, will no longer have immunity.

That last line is huge and I’m imagining the Private Military Contractors (PMCs) are going to start a pullout because their deal of legal immunity from Iraqi prosecution is a huge selling point on their side.  If some PMCs are still going to go, their asking price just went way up.

The US will hold soldiers more and more on bases to prevent prosecution, even the possibility of a scenario where civilians might accidentally be killed/wounded.

Because Iraqi justice is hanging gallows justice.  What this point towards, is what Thomas Ricks said might occur during Act 4 of the 5 Act Iraqi tragedy/drama that is about to unfold (The Surge was Act III).  In Act IV, which is the draw down/pull out of Iraq (which was inevitable, contra whatever “victory” talk McCain is on about) the Iraqis have to be seen to be anti-US, particularly Maliki and Crew, in the coming fight for who is going to control the country.

Maliki (as Cockburn notes) went to see Ayatollah Sistani (the guy who forced the US to have elections remember and ended Bremer’s tenure) and Sistani ok’ed the deal.  So it looks as if it will have no real problem passing through Parliament.

Readers will know that I am quite fearful that the Civil War is only in a kinda slowdown/temporary truce moment and the second the US starts major pull out, it’s bound to re-ignite.  I’m hope I’m wrong, but there is a 2 year window Obama has to try to manage some political arrangement, regional in character, that will prevent bodies in the street.  I just don’t see how the Sunni Tribes do not go after the Shia government/army.   The Sunnis have no chance of winning.  Iraq is now a Shia country essentially forever going forward.  Kurdistan has its more or less independence.  Even the Turks had to recognize it the other day.

But the Sunnis can do a lot of damage and are not going to take minority/out of power/dominance by the Shia lightly.  That is the ones who have left (the millions who have already fled and the hundreds of thousands who are already dead obviously aren’t part of that scenario).

I’ve also said that I think the only thing that might be salvagable is preventing the violence from spilling over into a regional war.  Which is the why the Turkish meeting with the Kurdish regional government is so important.

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Published in: on October 16, 2008 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Iraq Update: Sons Not Welcome Into The Family

[Photo of Iraqi Local Security Force from Flickr poster onekingdown27 via Creative Commons License]

Following up on the reporting from the always excellent Leila Fadel in McClatchy, Richard Oppel Jr in the NyTimes points out the Shia goverment in Baghdad is going after the Sunni Awakening movement.

This is really dangerous stuff. Maliki is feeling his oats against both the Sadrists and now wants to take down the Awakening in an attempt–Weberian style–to gain a monopoly on all forms of violence in Iraq. Reconciliation, smeconciliation. Remember of all the possible outcomes of Iraq one of them is a returned dictator (the others being a Lebanon-ization, a Bosnia-ization, or a total slaughter of the Sunni). Maliki is pushing for the latter.

The American military is worried but unfortunately (as per the usual) translates that worry into fear of Salafi jihadism:

“If it is not handled properly, we could have a security issue,” said Brig. Gen. David Perkins, the senior military spokesman in Iraq. “You don’t want to give anybody a reason to turn back to Al Qaeda.” Many Sunni insurgents had previously been allied with Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and other extremist groups.

Now certainly the Sunni insurgency could return to a temporary alliance of convenience with the Salafi movement as was the case in 2004-2006. They could of course just as easily align with the Mahdi Army (again: Lebanon-ization of Iraq where militias cross ethnic and religious lines in terms of alliances and fights).

But even if they did reunite with al-Qaeda, the reason they would do so would be to fight their real enemy: The Shia government. Not because they care about some ludicrous never gonna happen Caliphate vision.

Exhibit A:

“Some people from the government encouraged us to fight against Al Qaeda, but it seems that now that Al Qaeda is finished they don’t want us anymore,” said Abu Marouf, who, according to American officials, was a powerful guerrilla leader in the 1920s Revolutionary Brigade west of Baghdad. “So how can you say I am not betrayed?”

This was inevitable. The Shia were and are never going to accept the Awakening. They are never going to see them as anything other than a rogue force with the potential of reinstating the Sunni. Remember Maliki is paranoid by all accounts. He lived in exile ducking assassination attempts and sees himself as the defender of the Shia (The Shia Dawa) in a sea of Sunni-ism to his West.

While I can understand the position of the US army and having to de facto accept the militia-ization of Iraq, this game of trying to prop up a government and pretend there was some reconciliation to be had was always a fraud and Maliki is calling the bluff–telling the US to get out and let them him deal as he wants to with the Awakening/Sons of Iraq.

Whatever Obama’s plans for regional dialog and such (which I think are valid), events are conspiring from within on Iraqi terms to suggest that it might not really matter. There may be nothing that can be done except prevent other countries from joining in in the next round of bloodshed.

Published in: on August 22, 2008 at 6:44 am  Comments (2)  
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McCain’s Self-Contradictory Imperialism on Iraq

As Eric Martin (along with others) has pointed out the McCain campaign has officially come out in favor of the neocon/neo-paleocon position of outright colonialism in Iraq.

From Michael Goldfarb, McCain’s blogger/spokesman:

The deputy director of communications for the McCain 2008 campaign, Michael Goldfarb, yesterday said, “John McCain has said he will only support a withdrawal based on conditions on the ground. It is our belief that the Iraqi leaders share that view. The disposition of a sovereign, democratically elected government is one of the conditions that will be taken into account.” [emphasis added]

The term for this setup is satrapy.  It is exactly the same thing that the British tried in Iraq–to smashing success.

But I haven’t seen any bloggers point to an even deeper inconsistency/out-right contradiction in this statement by McCain.  Namely McCain is on record (via the Fred Kagans of the world) as defining victory in Iraq as a “democratically elected trans-ethnic stable strong central government in Iraq that is an American ally/Iranian foe in the war on terror and a beacon of hope to the Middle East.”

Forget for the moment that such a dream is in fact a utopia (i.e. exists nowhere), notice how McCain’s own downgrading of the importance of the Iraqi government can’t work with his goal of a strong Iraqi government. In other words, McCain’s own campaign/policy undercuts his own goal in the region.

At the very least, the definition of the right on victory should be redefined as everything above plus “and agrees with the right-wing US policy stance.”  Even more utopian in nature, but reality won’t stop McCain & Co., because they have a strategy of “victory”.

Yet again the neocon right can not come to grips with the fact that the US can not simply make people do what it wants–especially by writing more op-eds and going on Cable News–that others have their own interests (not always aligned with ours), and will act in a rational manner relative to their own interests.  They will act in ways that they think best help achieve their goals (which are not our goals).  Which yes (horror of horrors) may involve using others (like say the US) and telling them what they want to hear but not actually having the same set of objectives.

The ISCI/Dawa relationship to the US has always been to get training, arm them, have them kill some Sunnis, help with their takeover of Baghdad, force them to install a pro-Shia government (Sistani’s call for elections), so that they can then go about their dominance of the place.  And they want to both stay allied to Iran and yet not become a pure Iranian puppet–and have at times played the US to decrease Iranian influence and Iran to decrease/diminish US influence.  In other words, they have played a fairly smart game.   See how little of their goals line up with Bush/McCain’s goals for Iraq.  And you see why at some point, the house of cards was going to get called by the Shia and that time has come.

Which is why Max Boot’s inanity in today’s Washington Post (as further evidence of the new neocon meme of imperialism) doesn’t get off the ground.

Rather than seeing a pattern of “ambiguous statements” by Maliki and foolish public posturing, you see a guy who has continually wanted the US out and is closer to Iran than the US, always has been, always will. And given that Maliki has always seen himself as the protector of the Shia (not the Prime Minister of Iraq) this would suggest that this has consistently been the view of the majority of Iraqi Shia (i.e. US out).

Published in: on July 23, 2008 at 7:59 am  Comments (2)  
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