Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The al-Hatfields Versus the al-McCoys

Back Talk has a wonderful piece of analysis (hat tip: Tigerhawk) which strongly suggests an inverse correlation between Shi'ite militias and al-Qaeda suicide bomb attacks. It's one of the more interesting aspects of the complex ecology of violence in Iraq. As they say, read the whole thing.Nothing follows.


Blogger vnjagvet said...

As I was reading the linked article, I was thinking, "I wonder if Wretchard has seen this? It is really well done."

Silly me.

As usual, W is many steps ahead of me.

10/02/2007 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The War Against al-Qaeda in Iraq

TARMIYAH, Iraq, another story of success, the "awakening."

10/02/2007 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

The linked article says, "He hasn't been killed because (a) he was fighting to suppress al Qaeda by executing large numbers of Sunni males and (b) he is working with -- not against -- American forces as they try to pacify Baghdad."

In fact, it states more than twice that Mookie isn't the bad guy we've been thinking he is, that he's actually on our side, sorta/kinda.

To which claim, I'm wondering, then why does he keep bugging out to hide in Iran if he's such a good friend of the American miliary in Baghdad?

10/02/2007 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

The inverse correlation, if it's true, doesn't necessarily mean Moqtada is a "good guy". It only means that Shi'ite militia depredations may have the unintended -- or intended -- consequence of damping the al-Qaeda. It's not hard to see why. Unlike US forces, militias can commit murder at will and in the nature of things some of those murders will statistically kill al-Qaeda.

But if the objective is to create a civil society and avert civil war those loose cannons can hurt you more than they help. Plus, what might be operationally "good" when the priority is reducing al-Qaeda can become bad tomorrow when reconciliation is the order of the day.

What will probably happen if things go well is that once the al-Qaeda threat has been blunted Sadr's thugs will have outlived their usefulness. And then law enforcement can gradually be turned over to a more professional and less randomly violent force than the militias.

10/02/2007 09:57:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Book review: 'Chosen Soldier'"
"The demands of the wars are rapidly blurring the differences between conventional and special forces.
See this interesting article by Mark Hemingway (Next Stop Kandahar) from The Weekly Standard.
It reports on the U.S. Army’s new advisor training program at Fort Riley (Westhawk discussed the Fort Riley advisor school nearly a year ago).

Although a core Special Forces mission, the task of training foreign allied security forces has proven too large for the Special Forces to handle.
Or perhaps the special operators prefer to focus on direct action raids instead?
In any case, the Army is adapting and the large Fort Riley program is now gobbling up the Green Berets’ turf.

Kaplan Reaches many of the same conclusions in his latest two books, "Imperial Grunts," and "Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts."

Robert Kaplan, Pt. 1
With Hugh Hewitt
Hewitt: Hour 1 - Hugh begins a three hour tour of the American military with the Kipling of our time, Robert Kaplan, author of
Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts.

Robert Kaplan on Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts

10/02/2007 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don't think Back Talk was trying to claim that al-Sadr is a "good guy." al-Sadr is just a guy, with his own set of interests and his own way of looking at things, that may or may not align with our goals and our way of looking at things. To the extent that he doesn't like us, he's agin' us. But to the extent that he also hates al-Q (perhaps even more than he hates us), he's working toward the same goal as we are.

To follow on Wretchard's point, it makes sense, then, that we started turning on the Shia militias only after the Sunni tribes in Anbar and Diyala had been won over (meaning, of course, that we had effectively split al-Q from the Sunni "silent majority"). If we have Sunni allies against al-Q, we don't need to keep the gloves on when dealing with the Shiite death squads.

10/02/2007 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

The Sadrs are fighting the Madrs.

10/03/2007 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Them Sadarists are Madr F......

10/03/2007 05:56:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Well, of course the Soviets were hardly "good guys" in WWII but were killing Germans, so we supplied them quite a lot of weapons and material.

The thing that I find rather astonishing in the analysis is that al-Sadar was supressing the largely foreign suicide bombers. How was he doing that? Just bumping off every Sunni he could find would hardly do that. If anything it should do the opposite: P.O. the Sunnis and encourage them to protect the suicide bombers. There is no obvious reason why Al-Sadar would be able to target just the suicide bombers.

Is it possible that the Shia militia somehow disrupted the suicide bomber production process? Did they force Sunnis to lay low and thus restrict the bomber's movements? Or were the suicide bombers being used defensively against the al-Sadar militia - which makes little or no sense.

So, the data is indeed compelling – but I have no idea why.

10/03/2007 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger watimebeing said...

Sadr is an interesting player in the Iraqi landscape, appearing to have played all sides without ruining his reputation for not being good at playing. He is still beloved by many of the folks who live in his namesake Baghdad getto, feared enough by those who run the government, despised by most of the coalition, and his relations with the Iranians is fuzzy enough to allow him to walk with relative freedom in both countries.

He's people are a part of the Iraqi government, yet he has and continues to mingle with folks in both Tehran and Damascus at various terror summits, none of which appear to be AlQ related however.

In any case protecting his peeps in Sadr City is in line with his adgenda, which is not necessarily bound to either Iraqi or Iranian state interests. But are definately in keeping with Islamic revolutionary goals.

10/03/2007 08:06:00 PM  

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