The Seventh Circle
"Damascus, Syria: A top spokesman for the former Baath party of Iraq said in a recent interview that his group will not reconcile with the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad nor stop its active support of the insurgency unless the Iraqi government and U.S. officials first meet strict conditions including the withdrawal of American troops," according to the AP.
The interview came at a time when Saddam's followers are taking steps to regroup and regain political influence outside Iraq. They have been increasingly outspoken in recent weeks, apparently in an effort to blunt efforts by other Sunnis, encouraged by the United States and neighboring Arab regimes, to reach some deal with Iraq's Shiite-led government. U.S. officials have said they believe Iraq's Sunni insurgency is made up of both Saddam loyalists, such as the former Baathists, and also foreign Islamic extremist terrorists with broad al-Qaida links. Saddam's Baath party was generally a nationalistic, secular party before the 2003 U.S-led invasion of Iraq, and in the interview earlier this week, Abu Mohammed suggested the group retained much of that character.
He described what he called "a big difference" between Saddam loyalists and al-Qaida linked elements of the insurgency. "Our program is to liberate Iraq .. We are fighting the Americans because they have occupied Iraq, while al-Qaida has a different program. They want to kill the Americans in Washington and any where in the world," he said. He said the al-Qaida linked extremists regarded his group as atheists
As I wrote in an earlier thread, the ever victorious, ever regrouping Sunni insurgency has never passed up a chance to compound its errors.(See But Deliver Us From Evil) Westhawk comments on a State Department proposal to allow the complete defeat and ethnic cleansing of the Sunnis in Iraq and examines what its regional consequences would be. First, here is what the State Department proposal essentially says, and which Westhawk characterizes brutally as "a major breakthrough for U.S. policy. Mr. Bush would be abandoning Iraq’s Sunni Arabs to an unpleasant fate. Leaving “the thorny task of reconciliation to the Iraqis” is merely a euphemism for waving through Shi’ite and Kurdish ethnic cleansing of greater Baghdad."
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is deliberating whether to abandon U.S. reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead give priority to Shiites and Kurds, who won elections and now dominate the government, according to U.S. officials. The proposal, put forward by the State Department as part of a crash White House review of Iraq policy, follows an assessment that the ambitious U.S. outreach to Sunni dissidents has failed. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned that their reconciliation efforts may even have backfired, alienating the Shiite majority and leaving the United States vulnerable to having no allies in Iraq, according to sources familiar with the State Department proposal.
Westhawk goes on to say:
As the Washington Post article points out, there are risks to abandoning Iraq’s Sunni Arabs to their fate. U.S. military commanders in Iraq, especially U.S. Marine commanders in al-Anbar province, are likely to be unhappy. Although the Marines have suffered relatively steep casualties in Anbar, they have also built up relations and alliances with tribes and political leaders in the area. These relationships have been useful for attacking and containing Al Qaeda’s influence in the area. If Mr. Bush decides to cast away the Sunnis, these tribes and leaders may conclude that their only choice will be to change sides and make an accommodation with Al Qaeda.
A bigger problem would be the risk of sparking an even greater regional conflict. Other Sunni Arab powers in the region, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan may decide that they need to enter the war to defend their Sunni Arab brothers in Iraq. Their motives for doing this could be very practical. First, domestic political pressures may require leaders in these countries to show solidarity with Iraq’s Sunnis. These leaders may conclude that they need to support the Sunnis to ward off Iranian expansionism. But the most compelling reason for intervening may be the most practical – to attempt to avert large refugee flows of Iraqi Sunni Arabs into their countries. Despite these drawbacks, we remain convinced that Mr. Bush has no choice but to approve the State Department’s proposal.
The logic for crushing the Sunni insurgency is that is the fate they have chosen for themselves. The objections against it are not only moral but practical. Removing them from the board will mean that there will be no countervailing force against the Shi'ites. Colonial powers always employed the policy of "divide and rule" to pacify nations. Without the Sunnis, there is nothing to divide between. My own guess is that the key Sunni insurgency trump card is described in the phrase "The interview came at a time when Saddam's followers are taking steps to regroup and regain political influence outside Iraq,", which is AP-speak for they are looking for someone to save their hide. One way to understand SCRI leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim's aversion to a "regional solution" to Iraqi problems is that he wants none of that nonsense. The Sunnis are on the ropes. He doesn't want anyone ringing the bell. He wants the full count.
Bush spoke with al-Hakim directly about Iran and Syria and the critical need for them to respect Iraqi sovereignty and stop destructive activity that undermines Iraq's unity government, a senior administration official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge details of the meeting The official said it wasn't known whether al-Hakim specifically asked Bush to enlist Iran's assistance. Al-Hakim told reporters that he vehemently opposes any regional or international effort to solve Iraq's problems that goes around the unity government in Baghdad.
"We reject any attempts to have a regional or international role in solving the Iraqi issue," the cleric, who speaks Arabic, said through a translator. "We cannot bypass the political process. Iraq should be in a position to solve Iraqi problems."
Later, in a speech at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, al-Hakim said Iraq is interested in creating good relations with all neighboring nations, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Syria and Jordan. But he said: "We do not want to distribute shares of power to neighboring countries, but rather we want balanced relations."
One of the greatest pieces of disinformation that the press ever sold the public was this notion that the Sunni insurgency was on the verge of defeating American forces in Iraq. This idea has made it difficult for much of the public to understand the dynamic of the fight and it represents a failure of narrative which is only latterly being corrected.