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Apr 11, 2008


Just my latest thoughts on all the craziness in Iraq.

First, on the political front the a power struggle is opening up between the Mahdi Militia and a SCIRI/Da'wa alliance under Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki being fought by the the army and Badr Corps, who are quickly being absorbed into the normal police and army (as opposed to the Sunni awakening councils, who are not getting official integration and who will be SCIRI/Da'wa's next problem).

The fighting in the south is coming in advance of the October elections, where Sadr and the Mahdi Army may be the most popular movement after citizens have seen how the current parties run things so corruptly (Mahdi's corrupt too, but only in charge of port smuggling down in Basra). Elections have already been postponed, and political fears of Sadr sweeping the South and derailing Da'wa's partition plan had to be at least as large of a concern as security when the postponements were made.

My general view on the Iraq war is that it was illegal and unjust; perhaps more importantly strategically, that it was an impossible task to invade, occupy, fix up and make an ally of this country in the first place; and that if we leave very soon or much later from now, the same power struggle is bound to occur anyway, with the same likely result -- an Iranian friendly Shiite authoritarian regime. The only question would be if Kurdistan would stick around or end up a regional minefield as Iran and Turkey moved in, and I don't see how the US staying longer makes a disaster less likely.

But, from a selfish US-based perspective, perhaps hanging around just a little longer will do the trick and make it so we can leave with minimum fall out. Perhaps al-Maliki will successfully crush Sadr's movement at great cost, thanks to the Badr Corps and American air power. With the south firmly consolidated, perhaps al-Maliki will then turn to crushing the Awakening Councils who have helped stabilize Sunni areas up until now (I don't believe he'll integrate them into the security forces or that they'll disband peacefully). And perhaps, with his partition plan, he'll find a way to work together with the Kurds. Perhaps, just perhaps, if we back this latest sectarian and political push by the Prime Minister to help consolidate his party's political domination of the country, he will be able to establish a regime ruthless enough to create a window for an American pull out that doesn't look quite like a retreat.

Or then again, maybe things will get much, much worse. Either way, with elections in October, the way this will play itself out might largely be determined before the US election or at least before the inauguration of the next president.

And whether we've helped create a new despot or brought Iraq to an absolute meltdown, we might get out of this mess pretty soon after all.

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