Iraq War developments

Probably the only benefit that I had when I changed from an analogous satellite to digital terrestrial TV receiver some weeks ago is that I can now see CNN International. I'd prefer BBC World, but well. CNN International has the hilarious Daily Show with John Stewart, and I'm a fan of this satirical humour since I saw it in youtube.
Recently I continued to see the Late Edition or how that political show is called, and a Republican Senator highlighted a story about Shi'ites in Iraq turning against the Mahdi army (Al Sadr's militia). This and what happened previously in the Al Anbar province where Iraqi tribes (including an influential smuggler tribe) turned against AQ was presented as signs for a positive development in Iraq.

Well, I understand the principle of divide et impera, but splitting an inhomogenous nation into even more opposing factions does not look to me like a winning strategy. It increases the intensity of the conflict, even if away from the occupying/foreign forces in Iraq.

I pointed out much earlier that in my opinion the Iraq conflict is a defeat for the U.S. anyways, but even if the costs of the conflict were ignored, those developments barely qualify as breaks. What do people like this Senator expect those Iraqi factions to do?
- continue eternal conflict. No success, just fuel in a civil war fire.
- both become peaceful after showing their different strengths. Right, and I'm the pope.
- one overwhelms another, is strengthened by the success and turns on other forces, probably foreign ones. Not nice.
- one overwhelms the other and does not use the newly-gained power for anything. Sounds like some people would believe this.

In the case of the Mahdi army the citizen themselves got annoyed by criminal militiamen and probably not a tribe or other militia. But if the Mahdi army loses territory and followers, other powers which are so far probably not influential at all will replace it.

The only success for the foreign forces in Iraq could be the creation of a true Iraqi state as William S. Lind, a respected national security analyst in the USA, points out in his blog. A state that successfully claims the monopoly of force.
Such a state is not in sight as the state's servants appear to be usually more loyal to their faction than to the central state. Further dividing the Iraqi society into even more opposing groups might weaken unfriendly groups, but it does not promote the creation of a properly functioning Iraqi state, powerful enough and with loyal personnel to end the civil war.

The recent actions against Blackwater are probably a well-orchestrated move to give the Iraqi government more popular support, legitimacy and authority in Iraq as well as a move to discipline out-of-control para-military contractors.
This might be part of a strategy aimed at strengthening the central state. This strategy might involve weakening only opposing militias instead of overpowering all militias. The increasing diplomacy between U.S. officers and tribal representatives in Iraq hints at this.

In this case we could forget about the creation of an Iraqi state to Western standards and instead expect that it will become something that resembles rather Lebanon before the Lebanese state was doomed by the Israeli invasion of 1982.
I don't see any long-term advantages in an unstable, Lebanon-like Iraq. It's too sad that this is quite the most promising scenario for Iraq today. Maybe the warmongers will wish sometime in the future that Saddam returns and rules Iraq with an iron fist in isolation as he did before 2003.

Sven Ortmann

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