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    Friday, October 3, 2008

    Meanwhile in Iraq

    This came in from Patrick, and I think it's worth passing on. I truncated it just a little bit, but otherwise it's intact.

    "The Sunni transition in Iraq has begun. Starting Wednesday, the first groups of Sunni paramilitary fighters - mostly former insurgents who formed the Sahawat Al-Anbar, the Awakening Movement (jokingly called by some American commanders the 'Very Worried Iraqis') - will now be paid, and more importantly, commanded, by Baghdad, by PM Maliki and his Shia-dominated government.

    "I have been talking about this for some time, and what I am reading has me quite worried. We're talking at least 100,000 guerillas - let's call them what they are, a guerilla army, legitimized by their willingness to be bribed by the US - who will now report to a regime that has stated unequivocally that it intends to shut them down, that their existence will not be tolerated. A fraction of the Sahwa will be absorbed into the New Iraqi Army - I've read from 10 to 20 percent - where they will either be given their own segregated units which will be notoriously unreliable, or, they will be doled out piecemeal to Shia-majority units in the hope of diluting their effectiveness as a parallel force. The rest will supposedly be 'retrained' as carpenters, bricklayers, sewer workers, etc. Supposedly. Eventually.

    "Honestly, I have trouble seeing how Maliki avoids a replay of the Bremer debacle from 2003, when our viceroy unilaterally dissolved the Iraqi Army, thanks guys, go on home, take your weapons with you. Tens of thousands of Sunni guerillas, most of whom had little love for Americans to begin with, are going to be told to hand in their Kalashnikovs and pick up shovels and saws. Of course, strength in numbers was all that kept them from being targeted by the hardcore Sunni insurgents, AQI and their remaining allies; now that's gone. And cooperation with America is what kept the Sahawat leaders from being prosecuted for their prior activities (which is to say, their terrorist attacks), and Maliki's government is planning to go after many of these leaders as soon as America isn't paying attention. AND, the Awakening movement is undoubtedly riddled with AQI moles and sympathizers, Sunnis who couldn't give a fuck about imposing Sharia but who see America on its way out the door and are looking to close ranks as the threat of Shia oppression looms in the near future. It's all Realpolitik for them now. For many Sunnis, working with the Americans was always a short-term game, to keep Baghdad off their backs and to fleece the US armed forces for as much money and arms they could.
    (Actually, our own homegrown gangs are doing the exact same thing:

    "The Sunnis feel they are being abandoned by us, and they will have almost no reason to cooperate with Maliki, and every reason to rejoin the insurgency. And the insurgency will welcome them back with open arms.

    "The war is still simmering, notably in Diyala province (north of Baghdad province), which has become the new 'capital of the insurgency,' or at least a major center of it. And it looks like the war is creeping back into Baghdad again:

    "How will the influx of 80,000 well-trained, well-armed, furious and very worried Sunni fighters into the situation affect Iraq? Are we looking at a violent reaction to the 2006-2007 ethnic purges of Baghdad province that saw the Shia kill thousands of Sunni Baghdadis, and drive hundreds of thousands into exile?"

    with thanks to PNG

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