Is it time to shift focus to Iran?
A Marine officer responds by private email to an earlier post examining the question of whether it is propitious to shift the focus in Iraq from the AQI to Iran. He writes:
In your recent post about Petraus shifting the front to Iran, you asked: "First: is MNF-I correct to open this Second Front? Might not the AQI flare up again? Second: how will Iran be tackled? It will depend on three things. The Iraqi Army, the Elections in 2008 and the command plan. Right now those are three variables, the last being dependent."
My take: Yes -- they are correct. The only remaining fight that is predominantly against Al Qaeda is in Mosul. It seems to be going well judging by its absence in the news. AQI will not flare up again in Anbar province, though they will no doubt attempt more attacks there because a) the US forces are drawing down pretty dramatically there and b) the system of "reconciliation" that results in detainees from the past 3 years being released from prison is escalating -- releasing people who were once collaborators or facilitators, but who have now been hardened in prison -- and this will result in more attacks in Anbar. The coalition will be able to hold there, but watch out for some sort of large-scale attack: a truck bomb into a city council or local police station -- because if exploited correctly this could easily make people rethink their allegiances to the coalition -- out of survival instinct, not ideological fellow-feeling with AQI.
My only other tidbit is that there are two sets of elections in 2008: Iraq is scheduled to have local and provincial elections in October. This will significantly legitimize a good portion of the pro-US leadership in Anbar who just stood up or appointed themselves to be in charge when security was horrible and the Americans were scrambling for local leaders. Do not be surprised if the SaHwa Al Iraq, the Iraqi Awakening, carries these elections. If covered well in the western press, this will be some very good news for those who support the war: another round of elections in Iraq will be huge and especially in Anbar, where turnout was incredibly low in 2005. The fact that these are scheduled for October, and the US poll is in November, is most certainly not a coincidence.
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