August 21, 2006

USA Now Powerless In Iraq

Sami Moubayed, a Syrian political analyst, looks at the rising casualty rates in Iraq. From Asia Times:
Before the Lebanon war started, it seemed that Iraq was already on the verge of civil war, due to the brutality of death squads and the visible helplessness of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

A month later, Iraq is at civil war. Just look at the figures...

These numbers mean many things. First, it is clear evidence that the Baghdad Security Plan of the Iraqi prime minister (started on June 14) has completely failed. It was a plan much trumpeted by Bush and Maliki because it called for the creation of more Iraq-run checkpoints to search for arms, explosives and gunmen.

Second, the staggering Iraqi death toll means that the Sunni insurgency has not been broken - or even weakened - by the death of its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

And third, the transfer of full responsibility for security to the Iraqi government seems as far away as it has ever been since the invasion of 2003.
The author says a Hezbolla-style power play by Muqtada al Sadr would put the USA in a lose-lose position:
If it happens, and Muqtada decides to end all restraint, he could immediately bring down the Maliki cabinet. Or he could withdraw his ministers from the government and replace them with non-entities, and transform the cabinet into a political dwarf unable to make any real decisions. In this event, what would govern the state of affairs under Muqtada would be the power of the sword on the Iraqi street...

... with Iraq in such civil strife, it could in all likelihood become a battleground for the entire Persian and Arab neighborhood. The Saudis would support the Sunnis. Iran - and Lebanon's Hezbollah - would support the Shi'ites.

The United States would be trapped in the middle. It would be unable to side with any one party against the other. Supporting the Sunnis would mean supporting former Ba'athists. Supporting the Shi'ites would mean allying with Iran...

The United States stands in a helpless situation.
Juan Cole reaches the same conclusion, after reporting the slaughter of Shi'ite pilgrims in the midst of a supposed security crackdown in Baghdad:
What Shiites will willingly disarm after today? And if they don't neither will the Sunni Arabs. The armed faction fighting will go on. The US appears powerless.
Even GOP Senator Chuck Hagel is reaching the same conclusion:
"We've got a very unstable Middle East, I think the most unstable Middle East we've seen since 1948, and you can measure that any way you want. The fact is the future of Iraq will be determined by the Iraqi people, just like it was in Vietnam. The answer, in my opinion, is not to just keep feeding more American troops into it"...

"We, in fact, are in probably in a low-grade, perhaps very defined civil war. You've got corruption, everywhere, as bad as it's ever been. You've got uncontrolables that we can't control, we can't deal with. Iran probably has more influence in Iraq than we do"...
Hagel also says the GOP has lost it's way.


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