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Fri Jan 4, 2013, 11:46 AM

The Mess in Iraq

Robert Dreyfuss on January 3, 2013 - 3:12 PM ET
It’s not going well in Iraq.

Violence in Iraq might not yet be at Syria-type levels, where a full-scale civil war has left as many as 60,000 dead since 2011, but the latest reports from Baghdad say that 4,471 civilians died in Iraq in 2012. That’s up from 4.059 in 2011—and it looks like things will be getting a lot worse in 2013.

Heckuva success, W!

Ten years after the neoconservative-led invasion of Iraq—which, it must be noted, was a war of aggression against an innocent country that had no ties to terrorism, no WMD, and which had never attacked the United States—Iraq is still in chaos. And the war in Syria, next door, has helped to reignite the Sunni-led insurgency in northern and western Iraq, especially in Mosul and in Anbar Province.

An increasingly authoritarian regime under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has intensified a crackdown against dissent, whether peaceful or not. Since the departure of the last American forces at the end of 2011, Maliki has tilted sharply toward Iran. He launched phony terrorism charges against Iraq’s Sunni vice president, freed a Shiite-Hezbollah terrorist against US wishes, allowed Iran to ferry supplies through Iraq at will to aid Tehran’s ally in Damascus, and now he’s initiated a political jihad against the Sunni finance minister of Iraq. If Maliki had any intention of trying to maintain a balance between the United States and Iran, it appears that he’s given up trying to do so. The potential collapse of President Assad’s government in Syria would bring to power a Sunni power in Damascus, in which the Muslim Brotherhood and more radical elements, including Al Qaeda, would have traction. Already, Syria’s Sunnis are coordinating with Iraq’s anti-Maliki Sunnis in a manner that is driving Baghdad and Tehran closer together.



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Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Mess in Iraq (Original post)
Purveyor Jan 2013 OP
leveymg Jan 2013 #1
bemildred Jan 2013 #2
leveymg Jan 2013 #3
bemildred Jan 2013 #4

Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 12:38 PM

1. As the Saudis (Sunnis) and Iran (Shi'ia) go to war with each other, what's in it for the US?

The only thing that's certain is more blowback. What will be the costs? What about the potential benefits? If we don't like the cost/benefit calculation, do we still have the power and leverage to prevent an all-out religious war?

Do we even want to?

Have we already taken sides, the die is cast, and we're just going to let it play itself out, perhaps with the hope that for the third time the U.S. will come in and scoop up the pieces? Is that realistic, or the sort of calculus that has often destroyed tired-out, overstretched, heavily-indebted empires?

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 01:23 PM

2. Statehood for Kurds?

Add this. I've been waiting for this to come up. We now have two Kurd autonomous regions: Iraq and Syria, and both Iraq & Syria are failed states in every way, pseudo-states, the formalities of rule without much substance in the midst of endemic violence, if not civil war. And all predicted before Bush the Lesser and his controllers decided it would be a good idea to stay and occupy Iraq after "getting" Saddam.

The Baghdad newspaper Sabah published a surprising article a few weeks ago. Its editor, Abd Jabbar Shabbout, suggested it was time to settle the "age-old problem" between Iraq's Arabs and Kurds by establishing a "Kurdish state." Never before had I heard such a once-heretical view so publicly expressed in any Arab quarter. And this was no ordinary quarter: Sabah is the mouthpiece of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki. Shabbout went on to suggest a negotiated "ending of the Arab-Kurdish partnership in a peaceful way."

He called his proposal Plan B, Plan A being the "dialogue" between Iraq's central government and the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq that emerged after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

But Plan A, he said, was getting nowhere. Differences over power and authority, oil and natural resources, territory and borders were so deep that the dialogue repeatedly failed. In December the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshmerga faced off in an atmosphere so tense, according to Shabbout, that hostilities could have broken out at any moment as a result of the slightest miscalculation.

And it wasn't only Shabbout, but Maliki himself, who warned that if war did break out it wouldn't be just a war between Kurdish rebels and Baghdad, as it used to be under Hussein, but an "ethnic war between Arabs and Kurds."


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Response to bemildred (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 03:35 PM

3. Turkey also has a Kurd problem. Make that a 3-way war

with the regional powerhouses -- Turkey, Israel, Iran, and the Sunni Arabs -- all involved directly or through proxies, and you have the makings of a major war.

I am astonished there are so few people on this Board who seem to have anything to say or care to comment on this subject. Next to the collapse of the western and world economies, or a nuclear conflict, I can think of nothing more potentially awful.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 05:05 PM

4. Yes, that's it, and Iran, like you said.

And oil.

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