9 years, 8 months ago
“The enemy must not know where I intend to give battle. For if he does not know where I intend to give battle he must prepare in a great many places. And when he prepares in a great many places, those I have to fight in any one place will be few,” Sun Tzu, The Art of War, VI.14.
“He who intimidates his neighbors does so by inflicting injury upon them,” Sun Tzu, The Art of War, VIII.14.
At the moment, the enemies of the United States are fighting us within the borders of Iraq. It is a global war, but it has been confined by U.S. policy strictly to the contiguous Iraqi territory. It has been noted that although talks occurred between Iran and the U.S. over Iraq and the U.S. position has been made abundantly clear, rather than a reduction in Iranian influence, there has been a marked increase in Iranian influence and activity within Iraq.
[Maj. Gen. Rick] Lynch said he gave the order on Wednesday for the division’s 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade to begin Marne Husky — the latest in a series of offensives in the capital and surrounding areas.
The new operation is aimed at disrupting insurgents who fled a recent crackdown on the rural areas of Arab Jubour and Salman Pak in a predominantly Sunni area south of the capital.
Lynch also noted a “marked and increasing Iranian influence” in weapons and the training of Shiite extremists in restive areas south of Baghdad.
“There’s three pots of bad guys in my battle space. One’s the Sunni extremists, one’s the Shia extremists and the other is marked and increasing Iranian influence,” he said. “They’re all anti-Iraq, they’re all against the government of Iraq, they’re all against the Iraqi people.”
Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow.
We have discussed the fact that organizations (not necessarily associated with al Qaeda) in Syria sell suicide bombers and foreign fighters across the Syrian border to the insurgency in Iraq. These borders serve as a sieve for not just Saudi or Syrian fighters. On July 31, 2007, sixty six Pakistani nationals were arrested in Karbala using forged visas. The influx of suicide bombers from countries around the world is well known (Saudi Arabia (53), Iraq (18), Italy (8), Syria (8), Kuwait (7), Jordan (4), Libya (3), Egypt (3), Tunisia (3), Turkey (3), Belgium (2), France (2), Spain (2), Yemen (3), Lebanon (1), Morocco (1), Britain (1), Bengal (1), Sudan (1) and Unknown (18), and this list is likely short on bombers from Morocco).
Iraq has a long border: 1458 km with Iran, 181 km with Jordan, 814 km with Saudi Arabia, 240 km with Kuwait, 605 km with Syria, and 352 km with Turkey (some sources have slightly different values). Leaking borders has been a problem since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and three years ago Iraq was “calling on” Iran and Syria to help seal the borders. How does a country with such porous and long borders seal them? More than a year ago Saudi Arabia invited bids for the construction of a fence along its border with Iraq. And while this is interesting (and may ultimately succeed to slow the flow of terrorists across the border), it is not the immediate solution needed, while also possibly pointing the way forward.
The solution is not for Iraq to seal the borders. The solution involves intimidation of Iraq’s neighbors into sealing the borders. While the U.S. and Iraq are involved in talks with Iran and other neighbors, tried and tested military strategy suggests that bullying is the order of the day.
This bullying and intimidation might take the form of financial pressure (or conversely rewards for good behavior), market sanctions, air assets used against foreign fighters flowing in from across the borders, small incursions across the borders to destroy the sanctuaries of foreign fighters, or even larger air power involvement to destroy those sanctuaries and other supporting infrastructure.
The alternative is leaving these sanctuaries and flow paths in place, with no hope of the Iraqi security forces or U.S. forces being able to stop them (due to force size). Tested military strategy aims for the right target. In the case of the borders, the target is the offending country, not the Iraqi border proper. At the moment, the offending countries know that U.S. forces have restricted the battle space to Iraq proper. Either this changes — causing confusion and disaggregation among the foreign elements who wish to destabilize Iraq — or the borders will remain porous.