Friday, September 07, 2007

"Progress", taking and switching sides in Iraq

Front paged at Booman Tribune and ePluribus Media

Overlooked in the whole discussion about whether there is a decrease in violence in Iraq (there isn’t) or whether there is any real “progress” (there isn’t), or whether there are any real goals or strategy or mission (there isn’t) is the fact that Sunnis (including the original “insurgents” and dead enders, Al Qaeda, Saddam and much of his regime) were the original “enemies” in Iraq, only to now be this Administration’s bestest buddies. Couple this with the fact that the Shia, the ones who we were originally “helping liberate” have become Public Enemy number 1 as the rhetoric against Iran (predominantly Shiite) has been ratcheted up.

The conflict of interest exhibited by Mister Bush, his administration and his supporters is even more striking if you truly consider how little thought is being given to anything other than cosmetic indications of “success” that largely ignore the bigger picture.

The Iraqi Police Force is largely Shiite, and the Interior Ministry is run by the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), also largely Shiite. Interestingly, an independent report called for the disbanding of the Iraqi Police Force and indicated that the Interior Ministry is “dysfunctional” (see the Chicago Tribune link in this paragraph). The majority of the Iraqi Parliament is Shiite and Prime Minister al Malaki is also Shiite. And of course, al Sadr and his followers are Shiite.

Early on, major attacks were by Sunnis (yeah, I know the link is Fox News), and it was the Sunnis who were the impetus for the firebombing of Fallujah at the end of 2004. Once the civil war was full blown (at least to everyone whose head wasn’t firmly buried in their own ass), things started to change.

By late 2006, it got to the point where the only thing that Sunnis and Shiites could agree on is that they wanted our troops the hell out of Iraq, and it wasn’t much longer before the Iraqi Parliament followed suit. Not only that, but our troops were, in their own words, being “shot at by both sides” of a civil war.

Then, things suddenly changed.

A December trip to Saudi Arabia by Dick Cheney resulted in a thinly veiled threat that Saudi Arabia would start to arm the Sunni insurgents if the US left Iraq. This followed reports that wealthy private Saudi individuals were funding Sunni insurgents - just around the same time that US helicopters were being shot down by Sunnis with greater frequency.

Not surprisingly, around the same time, the rhetoric about Iran (predominantly Shiite and able to exert influence in Iraq) was ratcheted up. When the assertions that Iran was behind weapons found in Iraq, (former) Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace flat out denied the link, and this line was quickly proven to be (1) a lie or (2) not even pertinent if it was true. As more and more tenuous and irrelevant links between Iran and a reason for Cheney to bomb Iran were thrown out, each one was quickly swatted down.

So what does the Bush administration decide to do next? Cut out the middleman in Saudi Arabia and arm the Sunni insurgents themselves, a move the General Petraeus was rightfully concerned about. Of course, who knows how may Sunni “insurgents” or Shiite “militia” were already armed by the US when the nearly 200,000 weapons were “misplaced” under Petraeus’ watch back in 2004 and 2005.

And where does that leave us now? Well, we have basically come full circle. The ones who were fighting against us have become our “friends” in Iraq, even though they are still attacking us. In a June article in the Washington Post, there was this blurb about the attacks against our troops (note that this is around the same time the US decided to start arming the Sunni insurgents):

Simmons said that in May, the number of armor-piercing weapons known as explosively formed projectiles roughly matched the April high of 65, and the main source of increased U.S. deaths was "large and buried IEDs," or improvised explosive devices.

U.S. deaths have risen sharply in some of Baghdad's outlying regions, such as Diyala province, where Sunni and Shiite groups have escalated sectarian violence and fought back hard against American forces moving into their safe havens. "Extremists on both sides of this thing are trying to make a statement by attacking U.S. troops," Simmons said.

Now, this was in June, before what everyone (except for those “head up their ass folks”) have acknowledged as the bloodiest and most deadly few months in Iraq had occurred. It’s a real good thing we are arming some of those “extremists” in exchange for a promise not to attack us.

As for the Shiites, well they do make up a majority of the Government, including the Prime Minister (who is suddenly not in our good graces anymore, even though nobody can do what the neocons wish for). Yet, those purple fingers don’t mean much when even Democratic Senators such as Clinton and Levin are calling for al Maliki to be replaced. And the so-called “progress”? Well if you call sectarian cleansing “progress”, then there are more than a few issues with that.

So, even though we are supposed to be supporting the Iraqi government that was “democratically elected”, we are not doing so. Is it because of the inconvenient Shiite ties to Iran? I think we know the answer to that. And even though we started off this occupation by fighting against Sunnis (who, by the way are still attacking our troops), we have now (1) given them money, (2) given them weapons and (3) pledged money to the Saudis for weapons.

It is one thing to switch sides and claim that you are now “winning”. It is another thing to completely ignore this fact, all while also ignoring the military brass in Iraq, the government that was touted as “proof of democracy and freedom on the march”. And it is yet another thing to not even question the sheer lunacy and hypocrisy of this – all while keeping our troops in danger for no reason or mission.

Sounds like a ton of “progress” to me…

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