Violence, Politics and Positioning in Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 1 month ago

In continuing violence in Iraq, the U.S. has announced the deaths of nine more U.S. troops.  The U.S. is keeping up the pressure on al Sadr’s militia, arresting a senior militia leader; the al Sadr loyalists have threatened massive demonstrations and even violence if he is not released, and so a test has been set up for Prime Minister Maliki.  It appears, however, that Maliki and al Sadr ostensibly agree on one thing: the Iraqi people should and will decide on the issue of federalism in Iraq.

Thus the politics, some of it mixed with violence, ensues for power in post-war Iraq.  It appears that Iraq is headed towards what is being called a “dramatic change,” or a course correction.  There are even speculations that an overthrow of Maliki’s regime is in the works, with Maliki to be replaced by a ‘strongman’ who would use the power of the military to regain control of Iraq.

James Baker correctly see the problem as stabilization, at least initially.

His group’s main concepts seem to be “stability first” and “redeploy and contain”, as they are called. The first would concentrate less on democracy and more on stabilisation, especially in Baghdad, and on trying to bring in nationalist (ie not al-Qaeda jihadist) insurgents into political life and even consulting Iran and Syria. New anti-guerrilla tactics might be devised.

This could tie in with thinking in Washington that there is merit in the idea of a government of “national salvation” in Iraq.

The second would be more radical. It foresees a possible major, phased withdrawal of US forces, perhaps even to bases in the region from which they could support the Iraqi government if necessary.

We have discussed the issue of incorporation of the Sunni Baathists into the Iraqi political scene with amnesty, including the difficulty of accepting peace with those who have killed U.S. troops.  Maliki is claiming once again that there will be no amnesty for those who have killed U.S. troops.

Just two days after announcing his national reconciliation plan, Maliki reported that several insurgent groups have contacted his office or other government ministries to open a dialogue. Speaking on state television, Maliki stuck to the position he carved out Monday, that the amnesty offer will not apply to insurgents who have taken lives in the violence.

But this is surely just politics.  Unless Maliki is proposing amnesty for only those inept fighters and poor shots who have failed at every attempt to perpetrate violence on U.S. or Iraqi troops (which leaves no need for amnesty in the first place), then the deal will include at least some who have perpetrated violence.  We may speculate that a few of the notorious will be handed over, but until this plays out, perhaps only Maliki knows exactly what he means.  The NPR story continues:

Some insurgent groups have already rejected the amnesty offer. Ansar al Sunna, a group reportedly linked to al-Qaida, put out a statement on an Islamist Web site saying it will never compromise. It also urged all insurgent groups to remain united against the government.

Al Qaeda and those who have thrown in their hat with them will likely contest the al Anbar Province until the bitter end.  In all of this, speed, efficiency and effectiveness is of the essence in the defeat of al Qaeda and defeat or disarming of the Shia militia.  There are still signs that al Sadr has lost control of many of his prior loyalists, with them splintering into radicalized cells.


Comments

  1. On October 19, 2006 at 2:29 pm, toni said:

    Afraid the news is bad on Malaki. Reuter’s is reporting the boy cleric henchman is to be released. http://bearcreekledger.com/2006/10/19/release-of-al-sadr-senior-aide/

  2. On October 19, 2006 at 2:52 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Thanks Toni. So the downward spiral continues.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Iraq and was published October 19th, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

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