Tag Archives: Shiite

Iraq Violence Down–But Will It Last?

The commander of American forces in the Middle East claims there has been a dramatic decrease in Iraq violence but warned it m ight not be permanent. Admiral William Fallon told members of Congress, “In almost every measure, the security situation has improved significantly.” But, “multiple strains of violent extremism remains a threat to the government and population and some of these groups benefit from external support.” He emphasized to Congress, although General Peraeus will make recommendations in the coming months, there will also be the voices of others who have expertise and experience in Iraq. In his testimony Fallon blamed Iran and Syria for aiding extremist elements. Both are giving support to Hizbullah and Hamas.

The Admiral’s comments came as President Ahmadenijad was visiting Baghdad where he is being welcomed by the Iraq government. On one hand, the United States insists Iran is a destabilizing force in Iraq, on the other hand, the Iraq government welcomes their support. In fact, Iran signed an agreement with Iraq to improve municipal services in Baghdad.

Admiral Fallon failed to clarify the underlying causes for violence in Iraq which stem from the Sunni-Shiite divide. There are reports indicating rising tension from Sunnis who are blocked from positions of power in the Iraq government. It is not Iran which poses the greatest threat in Iraq but the Iraq government itself. Unless it reaches out to dissident groups within its own nation, violence may return to higher levels.

Iraq Sunni Councils Under The Gun From Iraq Govt.

There is increasing evidence the Sunni “Awakening Councils’ in Iraq, which are supported by US money, are feeling pressure from members of the Iraq Shiite government that may eventually result in an outbreak of violence between the oppposing groups. Sunni tribal leaders who oppose al-Qaida claim they are becoming the target of Shiite militias as well as their al-Qaida foes. There is no doubt the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki opposed the formation of the Awakening Councils and is dneying them financial support or recognition. According to Thamer al-Tamimi, one of the Council’s top leaders, the Sunni militia groups are under threat due to the upsurge in volence directed at their leaders and offices. Several recent al-Qaida car bombings were directed at these leaders.

There are moments when discussing Bush policies in Iraq when one can only wonder if anyone is in charge of the process. General Petraeus has led an American military effort to bring peace to Baghdad, but there are still many areas in Iraq where the level of violence is still high. From day one of the Iraq war there has been a failure to develop an overall long term plan for peace in the country.

A vivid example of the confusion surrounding Iraq policy is the recent agreement between Baghdad’s Mayor Saber al-Aisawia and the Iranian government for assistance in upgrading the level of municipal services. On one hand, Bush threatens Iran, on the other hand, the Iraqi government works with it. Is anyone in charge?

Conflict In Dyala Province As Police and Sunnis Clash

Fierce clashes erupted in Diyala province between Sunni militia, which are supporting the US effort to fight al-Qaeda, and local Iraqi police. Tensions between Sunni and Shiite forces center around rival claims of unfair treatment. It is reported in Azzaman that American troops have been assisting the Iraqi police fight against the Sunni who were trained by the American armed forces. Azzaman also reported Baghdad municipal workers claim half the capital lacks adequate water supplies.

The American media and military reports things are improving in Iraq, but Iraqi newspapers like Azzaman present a different story. For example, the newspaper claims last week U.S. gunships attacked the village of Zad in northern Iraq and killed eight people including five children. “This incident took place last week and U.S. and Iraqi sources have kept it under wraps.” Obviously, writing from the United States it is difficult to ascertain the reality of what is happening in Iraq. This war is characteized by an inability of the American or international press to gain access to on-the-scene accounts.

Gone In Ten Hours, Oops, I Mean One Hundred Years!

During the New Hampshire primary, Senator John McCain said American forces might be neceesary in Iraq for about 100 years which upset many Iraqi leaders. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari made clear that on crucial issues such as the duration of American involvement, “Who is in charge, we or you?” He is much more confident that al-Qaeda forces are crushed and is more concerned about the status of the Sunni led Sunni Awakening Movement which has about 70,000 soldiers. The foreign minister’s optimism is undoubtedly important, but yesterday, the chief of police of Mosul was killed in a bomb explosion.

Iraqi leaders are anxious to conclude a bilateral treaty with the United States which makes clear who is in charge and who commands its armed forces. He agrees the presence of American troops is the main reason his government even exists, but there is need to clarify who is responsible for the security and under whose authority do military actions occur. Mr. Zebari has worked hard to cultivate good relations with Iran but is aware Iranian agents have helped train the Shiite Mehdi Army which currently is quiet. Mr. Zebari and Shiites are still not completely happy with the emergence of the Awakening Movement since it is a Sunni military force and there is always the possibility of tension and fighting between Shiites and Sunni.

Despite the optimism of Mr. Zebari and American military leaders, it is much too early to determine if the 100 year timeline of John McCain is an over-estimation or under-estimation.

Bush Accepts Ethnic Cleansing As Iraq Solution

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh told Der Spiegel that President Bush’s famous surge
is nothing more than a disguise to engage in an ethnic cleansing operation. “We have Balkanized Iraq” by building walls to separate Sunni from Shiite and Kurds from both of them. Hersh argues America under Bush deals with enemies by “Hitlerizing” them so Saddam Hussein who headed a nondescript army or Ahmadinejad who has scant control over Iranian armed forces are portrayed as capable of engaging in military operations akin to that of Adolf Hitler. The Nazi dictator controlled the most powerful army in the world which possessed the best tanks and a strong airforce. Two inept leaders whose armed forces could barely defeat a minor nation are being depicted by Bush as capable of damaging the interests of America.

Hersh casts blame on the American media for allowing Bush to sell them his pipe dreams and fail to do serious investigative studies of such things as the WMD. In particular, he things the New York Times failed to do their job. “They missed the biggest story of the time and they are going to have to live with it.” Hersh is doubtful if America has learned anything from the Iraq fiasco. “I have this theory in life that there is no learning. There is no learning curve. Everybody has to discover things for themselves.”