Wednesday, April 9, 2008


From Juan Cole's summary of the Iraq situation:

Al-Maliki started out with a national unity government. He had Sunnis in his cabinet. He had Sadrists in his cabinet. Islamic Virtue Party. Iraqi National List. All gone. His government is more fractured and less representative than before the surge began!

What if the US military presence is juvenilizing the Iraqis and prolonging the civil war? Over 900 Iraqis were killed in political violence in March, the highest number since September.

Some of the March death toll was from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's abrupt attack on the Sadr neighborhoods of Basra, which was repulsed. But surely al-Maliki rejected negotiations and attacked frontally because he knew that if he got into trouble he could call down US close air support. If the US were not in Iraq, might al-Maliki not have dickered instead?

Might it not be the same between al-Maliki and the Sunnis? Al-Maliki objected vehemently to the US arming the Sunni Awakening Councils. He declines to incorporate them into the Iraqi security forces in any numbers. But his standoffishness comes from knowledge that if the Sunnis give him too much trouble, he can have his American friends bomb them.
Juan goes on to make a very salient point. Many have been throwing out the idea that Iran's meddling in Iraq is akin to it's backing of Hezbollah in Syria. Aside from likely being, at best hyperbole, the comparison really doesn't hold up. Cole points out that if anyone fills the role of Iran in Lebannon, it's the U.S. filling that role in Iraq.

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