Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's going on in Iraq, anyway?

To be truthful, I haven't followed the news from Iraq as diligently lately as I once did. Part of it has been because of the SUPER-EXCITING Democratic primary. (/snark) But part of it has been the general lack of news itself.

It's true that violence is down, though that is relative; large numbers of Iraqi security forces and civilians are still getting killed with some regularity, with little improvement over, say, 2005. It's even more true that violence against US forces is down. Total deaths this month are set to be one of the lowest of the entire war, no doubt aided by the increasing responsibility of Iraqi forces.

So what's happening? Is it the surge? Without going into more detail and examining the statistics province by province, I would guess that the US strategy has indeed produced some localized successes in reducing violence. Standard counter-insurgency doctrine requires large numbers of occupying forces to maintain order and clamp down on violence, and this has finally been realized in some areas.

But far more important in my mind has been the bribing of Sunni militias and insurgent groups in Al Anbar province, which was previously the hotbed of insurgent activity. This alliance of convenience has held up for quite some time, and depending on how things go, it may yet hold up for a while to come.

The violence that is still going on appears to be more the product of various sectarian militias vying for power; namely Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army and the more powerful SCIRI groups, which are backed by Iran and control much of the Iraqi government. It seems as though these groups are not interested in any lasting compromise, and they may be headed toward a major clash.

And the Sunnis may have been placated for the time being, but there is no indication that any of them recognize the legitimacy of the Iraqi government. The various tribal leaders all have their fiefs, and they're happy as long as no one challenges their authority.

But if Iraq is to become a functioning nation-state with a democratic government, this status quo must be overturned. And if the past five years are any indication, it will not be peaceful. Bush has succeeded in holding Iraq together long enough for the final outcome to become the next president's responsibility, but if things come apart as I suspect they will, he will not escape blame.


basil said...

Basra's still being shot up, bodies here and there and elsewhere. And well-known "radical cleric" and "US hater" al Sadr seems to consolidating his power. I've read somewhere that McCain and Lieberman wouldn't be able to walk that market they strolled through last year, because al Sadr controls it!

People are still dying, money is still being spent.

A couple of places to look.

And I'm sure I've mentioned over at TORC

And finally, here's something to crank up your cranky, from a true "Dick" ( J. Stewart ) who can't seem to hold on to a show.

The Boy Wonder continues:

What's unreasonable in my view is what Scott McClellan is saying, which is the White House wanted to invade Iraq for theoretical reasons. Because establishing democracy there would somehow bring peace to the Middle East and make the world a better place. That is very, very hard to defend. In fact, I think it's borderline ludicrous.

If that's true, then I think, you know, historians have a stronger case that the Bush White House was, you know, negligent and acting against the best interests of the United States. But again, that's not a debate most people are interested in having. I mean, every survey shows, television ratings show, people don't want to revisit this. Most people think the war was a mistake. They don't want to hear about it. Which is why almost nobody covers the war any more.


Anonymous said...

powerful SCIRI groups

I still can’t understand people like you keep this thinking about powerful SCIRI groups and other who came and helped by US and they are good servant for the invader now they are playing the other side of coin becoming apposing US!!

Is this some sort of hypocrisy and faking the reality?

Are Iraqis so stupid they can not knew what happing inside Iraq?

Is these media keep their propaganda going one and telling us these guys now working with Iran and they are against US?

This just ridiculous vies about this Parisian Proxy