Monday, June 18, 2007

Good news in Iraq

I haven't said much about the situation in Iraq because I am actively involved in trying to have an analysis of the situation that I wrote published. It wont be in Foreign Affairs or anything of that stature but published is published. We'll see. But writing about it here after reading and writing about it for hours is not appealing in the least. After reading this article in the Washington Post, I decided to write something short.

I'm not sure how long it has been since I have read an article about U.S. policy in Iraq that I liked or agreed with; the long drought is now over. The military is now looking to co-op certain Sunni Arab groups in the fight against al-Qaeda. It is about time.

The real threat in Iraq is al-Qaeda.
Rhetoric surrounding al-Qaeda is often false or overblown. The case is often made that Iraq will become a "safe haven" or "breading grounds" for al-Qaeda if we "fail". Although this could happen a much bigger danger is a wider civil war which involves neighboring countries. This could be a catastrophic event that will greatly overshadow a few extremists planning attacks on the U.S.

How will this catistrophic event be realized? Through flaming sectarian hatred spread by al-Qaeda. They are small and relatively weak, but know how to cause trouble. The Sunni's have tolerated them because of their lack of power after the fall of Saddam (simplistic explanation but will due for now). This is essential because they need local support to operate. It seems that many Sunni tribal leaders have come to realize that a civil war is not in their best interest. Their minority status combined with lack of oil resources on their lands would give the Sunnis immediate underdog status.

Instead some groups have decided that al-Qaeda is the enemy (with the U.S. a close second and Israel a close third). Therefore, we should assist them in exterminating the biggest threat to stability in Iraq. To nobody's surprise the Kurds and Shiites don't like this idea. They claim that we may be arming people who have attacked the U.S. They also claim that these guns may be turned on them later. Both are valid concerns, but the need to defeat (or at least marginalize) al-Qaeda is more important.

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