Friday, January 05, 2007

Whose Side Are They On?

There's an interesting article in the NY Sun describing the conclusions reached by Iran's equivalent of the "Iraq Study Group". One key conclusion the Iranians reached was that in order to forestall Sunni attacks against Shi'a groups it was important to for Teheran to reach out to both sides of the sectarian divide. Equal opportunity terrorism. But maybe it went beyondthat.


One of the documents captured in the raids, according to two American officials and one Iraqi official, is an assessment of the Iraq civil war and new strategy from the Quds Force. According to the Iraqi source, that assessment is the equivalent of " Iran's Iraq Study Group," a reference to the bipartisan American commission that released war strategy recommendations after the November 7 elections. The document concludes, according to these sources, that Iraq's Sunni neighbors will step up their efforts to aid insurgent groups and that it is imperative for Iran to redouble efforts to retain influence with them, as well as with Shiite militias.

But Iran was careful to choose which Sunni insurgent groups it would deal with, aiming to split off some from the others. "The source was careful to stress that the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, and said the documents rather show how the Quds Force — the arm of Iran's revolutionary guard that supports Shiite Hezbollah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads — is working with individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna." The connection between Iran and al-Qaeda is intriguing. If true it should be a political bombshell, though probably it won't. The media is relatively uninterested in such things. But still:

The news that Iran's elite Quds Force would be in contact, and clandestinely cooperating, with Sunni Jihadists who attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra (one of the holiest shrines in Shiism) on February 22, could shake the alliance Iraq's ruling Shiites have forged in recent years with Tehran. Many Iraq analysts believe the bombing vaulted Iraq into the current stage of its civil war.

However the secret Iranian policy may actually be old. US intelligence had long suspected that Iran was counterintuitively supporting the Sunni insurgents. Among the suspicions was that Iran helped supply the insurgents in Fallujah. But the information was kept within the intelligence community until the capture of Quds operatives in Iraq by US forces revealed documents which explicitly confirmed Iranian policy, which seemed to make no sense, at least from a Western point of view. Some US analysts still boggle at the thought that Iran might kill its own to advance their policy agenda.

A former State Department senior analyst on Iraq and Iran who left government service in 2005, Wayne White, said he did not think it was likely the Quds Force was supporting Sunni terrorists who were targeting Shiite political leaders and civilians, but stressed he did not know.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that al-Quds forces are on the ground and active in Iraq," he said. "That's about it. I saw evidence that Moqtada al Sadr was in contact with Sunni Arab insurgents in western Iraq, but I never saw evidence of Iran in that loop."

Mr. White added, "One problem that we all have is that people consistently conduct analysis assuming that the actor is going to act predictably or rationally based on their overall mindset or ideology. Sometimes people don't.

"One example of a mindset that may hinder analysis of Iranian involvement is the belief that Iran would never have any dealings with militant Sunni Arabs. But they allowed hundreds of Al Qaeda operatives to escape from Afghanistan across their territory in 2002," he said.

Commentary

Interestingly enough, some conservative and leftist blogs have speculated that Admiral Fallon was appointed to CENTCOM because the focus is about to shift away from Iraq and on to Iran. Whether or not that turns out to be true (because it would imply a determination that has so far been conspicuously absent), the relatively muted effect of recently discovered but modern day equivalent of the Zimmerman Telegram is suggestive of how inert US public opinion has become to what in other times would have been cassus belli. But then the seizure of seizure of the US Embassy came at a similar moment in 1979, when America had been psychologically wearied by the national debate over the Vietnam War. Organizations like the World Can't Wait To Drive Out the Bush Regime probably wouldn't care if the Quds marched across the border in strength. And a to a nation still as physically secure as America, such provocations from Iran are not existenstial threats. Whether or not Iran has been attacking America in Iraq may be politically beside the point.

But if Iran has been secretly supporting al-Qaeda, despite the well known hostility between their religious points of view, then the documents reveal a remarkable tactical alliance between the Zarqawi and the Ayatollahs that subordinated their hatreds to the goal of driving America out of Iraq. And that can only be because both parties secretly agreed that America in Iraq represented an existential threat to their ambitions. It has often been argued that US presence in Iraq is strategically pointless, but the captured documents suggest the opposite. If the documents are true then Iran must have felt it an intolerable threat; one so large that it was willing to make common cause with its sectarian enemies to achieve. The enemy's fears are the best indication of his weakness. Or are they? In the world of disinformation there is always the possibility of double-bluff. Or the possibility that Iran was preparing for the period following American withdrawal, when it would use its secret links to the Sunnis to bend the Iraqi Shi'ites to their will.

40 Comments:

Blogger wretchard said...

It wasn't hard to guess this:

"The new Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill today called for President Bush to abandon plans for a surge of new troops in Iraq, a plan the White House is expected to announce later this month." (ABC News)

1/05/2007 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Two former administration policy advisers with Iraq experience argue that any increase troop numbers must be matched by changes in leadership and focus. (Opinion Journal)

1/05/2007 02:49:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> the relatively muted effect... is suggestive of how inert US public opinion

There was little reaction because this is old news. Iran and Syria were officially declared sponsors of terrorism, and Bush has told us over and over again that they were helping terrorists on both sides in Iraq.

The real news here is that the Iranians were captured in the compound of a "moderate" Iraqi who it was hoped would replace al-Sadr in the governing Iraqi coalition. Then the Iraqi government released the Iranians, against the wishes of the US government. That is the story, the close ties between the Iranians and the Iraqi government.

> It has often been argued that US presence in Iraq is strategically pointless, but the captured documents suggest the opposite. If the documents are true then Iran must have felt it an intolerable threat

There are other possibilities, which seem more likely. One is that Iran knew that the Sunni Insurgency would get the weapons from someone, so the Iranians decided it was better to supply them rather than have the Sunni Insurgency strengthen its ties to Sunni countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Another reason is that Iran was not afraid of the US presence, but wants it. They want to keep our troops tied down in Iraq, so that they can't be used in Iran. That provides a bargaining chip that if the US agrees to Iran's nuclear weapons, then Iran will stop the terrorists long enough for the US to make a clean exit. Also, creating an alliance between al-Sadr and the Sunni Insurgency would make it more likely that the US would be "defeated"

1/05/2007 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

The Democrats will attempt to require that any 'surge' effort be weighed down with such a mishmash of conflicting objectives that it will be doomed to failure from the outset.

The most dangerous scenario they are concerned about, from their own point of view, is an administration substantially disengaged from Iraq by 2008. After predicting a 'quagmire' for so long, they've absolutely got to have one.

The troops? Sorry, just cannon fodder.

1/05/2007 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Link

According to this associated press article, the Iraqi government disagrees with President Bush about the new security initiative, and may forbid the US from adding troops in the "surge" and from going after al-Sadr! Maliki wants US troops to withdraw from Baghdad.

The new security initiative is beginning in Baghdad, and Sunni leaders are pleading for it to stop because they fear it will be a massive ethnic cleansing by Maliki and the Shiite government.

Copied below are some quotes from the article, in italics:

Iraqi forces backed by U.S. troops will begin a neighborhood-by-neighborhood assault on militants in the capital this weekend as a first step in the new White House strategy to contain Sunni insurgents and Shiite death squads...

The Iraqis did, however, signal continuing disagreement on key issues, including al-Maliki's unease over the introduction of more U.S. troops.

Another point of contention has been the Iraqi leader's repeated refusal of U.S. demands to crush the militia of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, one of the prime minister's most powerful backers...

The Iraqis did, however, signal continuing disagreement on key issues, including al-Maliki's unease over the introduction of more U.S. troops.

Another point of contention has been the Iraqi leader's repeated refusal of U.S. demands to crush the militia of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, one of the prime minister's most powerful backers...

In his discussions with Bush, al-Maliki continued to press for a rapid U.S. withdrawal from the capital to bases "on the outskirts of Baghdad," al-Askari said...

As forces apparently began to get ready, the powerful Association of Muslim Scholars voiced Sunni agitation and claimed the coming drive was really a joint operation by Interior Ministry commandos, the Iraqi army and the Mahdi Army to further cleanse mixed neighborhoods. Iraq's security forces are dominated by Shiites.

Sheik Mohammed Bashar al-Fayadh, a spokesman for the organization, claimed residents had seen 150 vehicles massing Friday in the Shula region in northwest Baghdad in advance of the assault.

1/05/2007 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

"The real news here is that the Iranians were captured in the compound of a "moderate" Iraqi who it was hoped would replace al-Sadr in the governing Iraqi coalition. Then the Iraqi government released the Iranians, against the wishes of the US government. That is the story, the close ties between the Iranians and the Iraqi government."

Well yes. The Iranians have been operating within the political action cycle of US diplomacy. But the sub-real news was that the compound was raided and that two Iranian diplomats were taken from an Iranian embassy car. This came at about the same time the Brits launched a thousand man raid on the Serious Crimes Unit in Basra and carted away the files, releasing the prisoners they found, but probably after asking some questions.

What does this suggest? At the minimum that there is a difference of opinion about how to deal with Iran, some good intel about what is happening. But it also suggests that policy is divided. And that's one real area of contention. There's muscle and intel in some abundance. But what to do with it seems to be the question. The Democrat answer appears to be: nothing. But the Republican answer, thus far, is not much better.

1/05/2007 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thomas Barnett up now on Hewitt:
http://www2.krla870.com/listen/

1/05/2007 03:23:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Meme Chose sez it all: a 'quagmire' for so long, they've absolutely got to have one.


Murtha came out and called for de-funding the war effort, EXACTLY the method used by a Democratic Congress to betray our allies in Vietnam, our cause, our own national interests and the world's best interest when they de-funded our military efforts in that war.

The idea that you can surrender just this one little square on the checkerboard ... or in this case, the primary battleground in a global conflict ... it's like they are playing a different game. Clue? Spin the Bottle?

They are playing Hate Bush. In Democratic politics, the meaning of your words is meaningless, once the meaning of "is" becomes fungible, all truth is mutable. It's just stunning to watch them, they seem to think they can defeat Bush and humiliating America and empowering the enemies of civilization is somehow worth it in their calculus.

But you see, as Scarlett whispered to the smoky wind of defeat: Tomorrow is another day.

1/05/2007 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> The Democrat answer appears to be: nothing.

Link

The Democrats finally did release something today, an open letter from their Congressional leaders to President Bush. It is amazingly snotty and almost childish. I was also surprised that instead of cautiously political, the Democrats came right out and said that "it is time to bring the war to a close".

1/05/2007 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Next up on Hewitt:
Hugh replays McCain's BS re:
Border Security
That he spewed on Bennet's show last nite.
He's polished his BS since last run, but it's still BS.
...just remember:
He and Ted Kennedy agree on what's best for this country that he and Ted and Bush are giving away as fast as possible.

1/05/2007 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/05/2007 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

The US Democrats may not be the biggest problem any more though. The Iraqi (= Shiite) government, Maliki, etc. is basically telling us to get out of Baghdad now so they can ethnic cleanse it of all Sunnis. Then by summer to turn all of Iraq over to them so they can make as much of the rest of it theirs, Shiite, as possible. Maliki is saying that al-Sadr is part of the government and we can't touch him. They don't want Bush's surge.

This actually brings up an interesting question. Since the elected Iraqi government is now the problem, do we declare war on iraq?

If the Shiite vehicles are really lined up and ready to clean the rest of the Sunnis out of Baghdad, Bush will have to make a decision pretty quick.

It's a direct challenge. They don't think we can stop them.

1/05/2007 03:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a very interesting love triangle between Pakistan, Iran, and AQ. It seems that intelligence officers from both Pakistan and Iran are in bed with AQ, and have been in bed with AQ for a very long time. Now, all we have to figure out is, why. (If that's not obvious enough).

1/05/2007 03:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They're all "bi?"

1/05/2007 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wu:
Some links would be appreciated.

1/05/2007 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/05/2007 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

The links are there. I used the word

Link

Security Initiative

Democratic Letter

1/05/2007 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Speaking of how everything is tied together, I'm starting to wonder if the Fatah-Hamas spat is really going to end in a truce. I wonder if Iranian-sponsored Hamas is going to take Palestine over by force.

This is because Hamas battled over a day to kill someone from Fatah, with the victim even pleading on Palestinian TV for help. Then today Hamas killed a Muslim cleric for preaching a sermon against them.

Quote in bold:
Ghayeb was on the phone to Palestine TV just moments before his death and appealed for help as his house came under attack. "They are killers," he said of the Hamas gunmen. "They are targeting the house, children are dying, they are bleeding. For God's sake, send an ambulance, we want an ambulance, somebody move."

The battle outside the house raged for much of the day...


Palestinian Story


So we have Iran sponsored Hizbollah trying to take over Lebanon, al-Sadr in Iraq, and Hamas in Palestine.

1/05/2007 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

"This actually brings up an interesting question. Since the elected Iraqi government is now the problem, do we declare war on iraq?"

All of these questions are only answerable within the context of what America intends to achieve. Measurable only against the yardstick of what it intends as "victory". Now America has defined victory as bringing sanity to the Middle East. But Iran has defined victory as being the meanest dog on the block. If the surge is meant to make sober citizens out of the warring parties it is doomed to fail. But if the goalposts have moved, then head for the new goal.

The idea that America can retreat from the Middle East would be nice if it were possible. America is doomed to remain in the Middle East. It could not withdraw after Desert Storm, nor can it now. Not while the world depends on that place for oil. But if it is doomed to remain in the Middle East, then it should determine to be a winner. What is the sense of staying anyway and being a loser?

1/05/2007 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Prof. Wretchard asks us: What is the sense of staying anyway and being a loser

Is this what we were doing during the forgotten '90's? We spent at least $10B a year maintaining an AirCap, an all-points blockade of Iraq, and once we even "surged" to something much larger than Operation Linebacker II. C'mon guys, give a shout-out to 200 Navy Cruise missiles (the expensive ones) and an incredible aerial spanking in the famous Op Desert Fox.

Doesn't have the same ring as "Linebacker II" somehow.

At least Linebacker drew our enemies to their own surrender. Desert Fox was designed to destroy Saddam's WMD programs, to prevent him from sharing his WMD's with Al Qaeda. Of course, after 9/11, we came to understand that Saddam was never any threat and there are no WMD's. So, Linebacker grabs Desert Fox in Wretchard's "tactically brilliant / strategically useless" category. But in the 90's, America never even knew any wars or slaughters were going on.

Isn't that funny? (Not hah-hah funny, the other kind.)


Prior to 9/11 and OIF, we were staying anyway and being a loser.

Now it appears we as a nation, the world's most munificent, loving, giving, caring super-power in history are about to surrender to savages and suicide bombers.

Because we are Paper Tiger pussies.

1/05/2007 06:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Undermining Maliki's authority should not be a problem for us - personally, Maliki mirrors Sistani in that both have displayed their penchant for tolerance of agents of al-Sadr and al-Hakim. Even though strengthening the government is key to establishing security and political stability in the long term, Maliki has proven that he is just as insincere as Sistani, as seen by the Iraqi government's protests at the Iranians being detained by our troops.

All this bluster surrounding the hypothesis that Maliki and Sistani are our allies in Iraq, that by detaining the Iranians we would be risking what little political capital we have in order to gain leverage in this predicament - how much of it is true? Sistani seduced us with the possibility of an anti-Sadrist coalition, yet that would entail staying quiescent about al-Hakim's ties to Iran; when Bush tried to stand up to the threat of Iranian infiltration, Maliki manouevred the government against us - this despite the fact that we were already geared towards a scenario whereby Sadrist influence would not be sufficient to dilute government sovereignty.

All this leads me to posit that reconciliation with the Shiites must entail not the maintenance of the Shiite alliance but the dissolution of it: by keeping Maliki, Sistani, al-Sadr and al-Hakim in this comfortable status quo, we are allowing them to manipulate us back and forth, portraying us as meddlers and enemies of the state.

1/05/2007 06:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wretchard wrote: What does this suggest? At the minimum that there is a difference of opinion about how to deal with Iran, some good intel about what is happening. But it also suggests that policy is divided. And that's one real area of contention. There's muscle and intel in some abundance. But what to do with it seems to be the question. The Democrat answer appears to be: nothing. But the Republican answer, thus far, is not much better.

Just when things were beginning to look up, here come the ever-dependable Democrats to spoil the party. Now that even Maliki, speaking on behalf of the Iraqi government (but actually acting as the mouthpiece of al-Sadr), has displayed his intentions out for us to see, asking us to leave - if it were up to me, I would advocate overriding Maliki's authority and replacing him with someone much less quiescent with being a puppet of the Sadrists and Badrists.

>wu wei

Declaring war on Iraq - that would mean something akin to Kagan's AEI plan, no? Perhaps as a final measure, but right now, we'll just have to see what happens.

1/05/2007 06:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. military already knows what half of its most-wanted terrorist targets look like because they have been apprehended and photographed in the past, a Republican congresswoman said Friday.

Lawmaker: U.S. catching, releasing top terror targets

The United States is operating "a catch and release program for al Qaeda in Iraq," said Rep. Heather Wilson, a member of the House intelligence committee.

In remarks at the National Press Club, the New Mexico lawmaker said a senior official told her that the U.S. military already has photographs of "fully half of the high-value al Qaeda targets in Iraq" presently being hunted. (Watch how Congress is divided over whether to send more troops to Iraq )

"They're wearing orange jumpsuits in the mugshots we took of them when we captured them the first time," Wilson recalled the official telling her.

"We are operating a catch and release program for al Qaeda in Iraq.
This is inexcusable and frustrating
... for the young men and women in the military who are in the fight,"
she added.

1/05/2007 07:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harrison,
I think you shortchange Sistani a bit:
Quite unlike the Pols, in the past, at least he was quite a straight talker, and held out for 2 years until he saw that the people were abandoning him
BECAUSE OUR KID GLOVE OCCUPATION WOULD NOT PROTECT THEM, and Sadr's boys would.
He was calling for elections early on when we should have had them, according to some DOD plans.
Instead, State got it's way (again) and Bremmer spent money and watched over the growing insurgency for a year.
The rest is history.

1/05/2007 07:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the Possum Bistro!

1/05/2007 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

It's what we do here in Idaho with trout, Doug, catch and release. We never get a good meal, but the trout grow bigger, though at least they don't shoot at us. A fine fish management plan usually doesn't seem good strategy in a war, though Castro used it to some benefit during the revolution.

1/05/2007 07:16:00 PM  
Blogger Boghie said...

Where is Osama...

Is he learning Farsi

1/05/2007 07:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>doug

Thank you! And perhaps I'm shortchanging Sistani - just concerned that he's not exactly looking out for himself if he naively thinks that al-Sadr is simply going to submit to the former's clerical-spiritual authority. Radicalisation of the Shiites has begun and will continue to escalate.

His non-involvement and reluctance to speak out save for a few platitudes has been interpreted as intransigence, and that alone does not bode well for his authority - the perception is that he has been weakened in terms of political and spiritual authority, with al-Sadr sapping that and exploiting it to fuel nationalistic support for the Sadrists.

I seriously doubt that Sistani would emerge from this perilous situation unscathed, and in the event that one side manages to triumph over the other, his voice will count for nothing; Shiites will still respect him, but he is not the man to go to if they want things done. I wonder if he has considered what lies ahead for him. Or does he already realise that it is a necessary price to be paid - any price - in order to get us to withdraw in the shortest time possible?

re: catch-and-release

Reminds me of S4 of 24, when Jack convinces CTU to release a terrorist from holding. CTU can't interrogate him because they don't have proof - yet Jack doesn't work for them, so once the terrorist is freed, he ambushes the terrorist and interrogates him without the need for permission or sanction from anyone.

Of course, it doesn't seem like we're assassinating these terrorist ringleaders and head honchos, so perhaps the military screwed up the third part of the strategy: "kill"

1/05/2007 07:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harrison,
Right.
When we didn't take out Sadr, Sistani watched his influence melt in tandem with his followers loss of security.
Back when he took a more independent stand, I always wondered how he managed to stay alive.
Maliki does it by siding w/Sadr.
Back in W's Court.
---
Byron York has a piece about Harriet Miers being responsible for Court nominees:
That and her oversight of JAG functioning was not worth W's putting in someone that could do the job for us and our troops.
Now that his neck will be stretched by the Dems, he's reportedly got someone tougher.
Too bad for all of us he wouldn't do it "just" for the troops.

1/05/2007 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

> But Iran has defined victory as being the meanest dog on the block.

OK, but how is Iran the meanest? They don't fight anyone directly. They use surrogates. It's all indirect and unconventional warfare. They are patient and wait for the right moment.

So if Iran is the meanest dog on the block for using surrogates and unconventional warfare, then would it be surrender for the US to fight the same way, say by switching to a special forces war in Iraq? Or is there a double standard where we are called "weak" if we don't fight with conventional armies, but Iran is called strong for only using guerrillas?

The same thing happens for bin Laden. We wipe out his base in Afghanistan and destroy his army. Then when he hides in a cave and sends out videos, people say he's the strong horse.

There is a huge issue here of psychology. In many ways the terrorists only have power based on our response to them, not the raw power of what they did. Once Iran sees us in a war, they expect us to react in a certain way because we feel we must "win". Are they tricking us into fighting a conventional war in Iraq which isn't in our interest because of that?

1/05/2007 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Sistani's influence has been fading, somewhat like Bush's, because even after all of the elections and constitutions, the Sunni was still slaughtering his people. Sistani couldn't tell them to wait any longer.

President Bush also made a huge mistake by telling a press conference that Sistani was considering supporting the moderate coalition. Yes, it was public knowledge at the time, but having Bush say it allowed Sistani's enemies to say he was a puppet of the US. He had to stick with the Shiite block because of that.

The reality though is that the Iraqi Sunnis have chosen civil war by attacking the Shiites relentlessly ever since the early days of the war. Not just killing "soldiers", but civilians. Even though the attacks are supposedly from Al Qaeda, everyone knows that the Sunnis support them.

That's why I don't think we should try and prevent the civil war, other than by encouraging the Iraqis to negotiate. Each side choose civil war every time they launch a terrorist attack on the other. I don't think we should defend or fight for either side, Sunnis or Shiites, unless they stop killing us with IEDs and telling us to leave the country.

1/05/2007 08:46:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...

wu wei,

yes, we sholud have switched to a specops war in Iraq years ago. Bush should have declared victory in dec, 2003 after Saddam was captured.

whether sunnis and shiites slaughter each other is meaningless to the us, or it should be.

Iran has brilliantly outmaneuvered us for a few years now

they're spending not even 1% of what we're spending and getting a much greater return on their investment.

they've read their Sun Tzu in Tehran. They haven't in Arlington where they think that 150,000 sitting ducks will produce a Pericles leading Athens.

The sooner we leave Iraq the better.

1/05/2007 09:08:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

There were some interesting developments about the AEI / Kagan / Keene plan which was the focus of a prior discussion here.

First, a new version of the plan was released today. It describes the operation in much more detail. Here's the link to the large (3.4 MB) plan:

AEI Plan

Second, by some strange coincidence (?) the new version of the plan requires fewer troops, 20,000, making it more like the rumors from the White House.

Finally, CBS News is reporting that the new Kagan plan is what President Bush will use. However the White House said some of what CBS said was false, without saying what. Here is the article:

CBS Bush Plan

According to the article, this is the "5+2" plan, meaning five more brigades to Baghdad and two brigade to Anbar. This is said to be 10,000 now, with an optional 10,000 more troops in Spring.

The plan is just clear and hold, and it does not attempt to eliminate any terrorist groups. Sadr City will not be cleared because it is said to be too dangerous, as it would trigger a war with Al Sadr. According to the plan, if conflict began with Sadr, the other Shiite groups might join in, and the plan says we could be militarily defeated.

Even though the plan puts more troops in Anbar, it says that is not nearly enough to clear it.

So the plan is to clear out most of Baghdad but not Sadr City, to improve the situation somewhat in Anbar, and to hold that for 18-24 months in order for a political solution to happen.

1/05/2007 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

Here's a quote from the CBS article linked to above:

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recommended that President Bush order an immediate buildup of 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, with an option of doubling that to 20,000 by spring.

The plan is known as "Five Plus Two," sending five Army brigades into Baghdad plus two Marine battalions into western Iraq. Two of the Army brigades would go into Baghdad starting in January, with the other three on call.

A senior defense official told The Associated Press that parts of the CBS report were incorrect but declined to say which parts or to comment on any recommendations Gates might have made to Bush.

1/05/2007 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

I think the Iraq study group is a megaphone for Tehran's Taqyyia and a political means for US retreat. In short the ISG is a group of spineless nitwits with scatterbrain ideas.

1/05/2007 11:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One hopes that the Administration has been quietly and steadily building a rock-solid case against Iran, and that any time now it will unleash its accusations with such righteousness and in such number as to bring the issue to a head. Bush-as-pulsar and all that.

I think it would work. I just don't have any faith anymore that it will happen.

1/06/2007 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

wu wei "OK, but how is Iran the meanest? They don't fight anyone directly. They use surrogates. It's all indirect and unconventional warfare. They are patient and wait for the right moment."

When you're up to your ass in alligators, It's hard to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.

Sometimes the meanest weapon on the body is the brain.

1/06/2007 01:28:00 PM  
Blogger SarahWeddington said...

Bush has officially capitulated in Iraq.

I'd like to thank Kagan and Kenae for putting the pan out there on the internet for everyone to see. I'm sure they've already downloaded it and printed put copies to hand out in Tehran, Damscus and elsewhere.

If Keane and Kagan were around in 1944, Overlord and the landing zones would have been laid out for Rommel to see. It's nice to know we're being led by men so concerned about security.

Now the plan is not to get rid of terrorist groups? Thanks, W.

The real shame is that KEane and Kagan concede that the US Army and USMC could be defeated in battle by the Jaish al Mahdi and a some other shiite militias. If that isn't an idictment of what this war has
become, I don't know what is.

A few weeks ago, Kenae/Kagan inisted that at least 30-50K was needed and even that would be about 50-50. Now they're going with 20, which is really more like 10. What a joke.

So the plan is to clear out a few Baghdad slums and hope that things are better in 2 years.

I'm thankful we have such on the ball leadership

1/06/2007 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

In this article the top US general in Iraq answers some of the questions discussed here.

General in Iraq

He says the reason that the last Baghdad stabilization effort failed was because the Iraqis didn't do their part. He confirms that Iraqis will focus on the center of Baghdad, with the US withdrawing to the outer portion by summer.

The general said that"We did raids last night against Sunni and Shia targets that were Iraqi led", and are working to purge militia forces from the Iraqi army. He said that we are already targeting "extreme" elements of the al-Sadr group, and the final decision on whether to "take him [al-Sadr] down" is up to the governments. The general estimates that 80% of those in the militias can be integated into the army, while 20% will need to be captured or killed.

Protestors said that there was a raid in Sadr City yesterday, but a US spokesman wasn't aware of it.

The new Iraqi troops coming to Baghdad are 2 brigades of Kurds and 1 brigade of Shiites.

IMO this is good news. Action is being taken, and the Iraqis are leading it. The primary goal should be to reduce terrorist = anti-civilian activity by any means possible, even though this could mean a short term increase in legitimate military and self-defense fighting. It would be better for Shiite & Sunni militias to defend their own civilians instead of slaughtering civilians of the other sect. Fear of escalation into a "civil war" should never cause the US to discourage anti-terrorist & self defense fighting.

1/07/2007 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Wu Wei said...

from the Washington Post

Also Sunday, the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who leads a powerful militia, and Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, an influential Shiite religious leader, met briefly in the holy city of Najaf, according to a Sadr spokesman. During the meeting, Sistani asked Sadr to support the Iraqi government and its security forces, according to the spokesman, Aysam al-Musawi.

1/07/2007 09:36:00 PM  

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