Saturday, December 23, 2006

Non-Arab Arab. October 21st: Iraq: On SCIRI vs Sadrists

Dec 22nd: Connecting the dots
There are three events going on right now which I am quite surprised that few people are connecting the dots on:
-The Bush Administration's backing of an attempt to form a new Iraqi governing political coalition consisting primarily of the Shi'ite Islamist SCIRI, the Sunni Islamist Iraqi Islamic Party, and the Kurdish parties. This is being presented as a supposedly multi-ethnic "moderate" coalition aimed at isolating "extremists" and being the political part of a new path forward.

-The debate over a temporary boost of 15,000-30,000 additional US troops primarily into Baghdad. The public debate currently is between those who say a small number like this can't make any real difference and those who say "we've got to try something".

-Muqtada as-Sadr's supporters rejoining the Iraqi government after a boycott of several weeks. On the surface this looks like Sadr's boys just threw a temper tantrum when Maliki met Bush in Jordan a few weeks back and now they're returning to work as they always planned.
I believe these interpretations are wrong and these aren't isolated events. This is a concerted and yet-again quixotic effort by the Bush Administration to try to destroy Muqtada as-Sadr's power in the political and military arenas in the next few months. Even if they boot Sadr from the political arena (heck, even if they kill him and badly bloody his foot soldiers), it is going to fail as both the 2004 attempts to crush his movement failed, and it is going to result in yet more major blowback. In a nutshell, this is what I believe is really going on: continue
update: Sistani balks at US plan
and from Helena Cobban

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