Can Someone Please Read Anthony Cordesman
in Sunday’s New York Times, and explain just who it is we’re fighting over there?
Even if American and Iraqi forces are able to eliminate Al Qaeda in Iraq, there are still three worrisome possibilities of new forms of fighting that could divide Iraq and deny the United States any form of “victory.”
One is that the Sunni tribes and militias that have been cooperating with the Americans could turn against the central government. The second is that the struggle among Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and other ethnic groups to control territory in the north could lead to fighting in Kirkuk, Mosul or other areas.
The third risk – and one that is now all too real – is that the political struggle between the dominant Shiite parties could become an armed conflict.
Fighting is now occurring in southern Iraq and parts of Baghdad between the Mahdi Army, which is under the control of the populist cleric Moktada al-Sadr, and a coalition of forces led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki’s Dawa Party and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, a powerful party led by a Maliki ally, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. This latter coalition has de facto control of much of the Iraqi security forces, and Mr. Hakim’s group has its own militia, called the Badr Organization.
Much of the reporting on this fighting in Basra and Baghdad – which was initiated by the Iraqi government – assumes that Mr. Sadr and his militia are the bad guys who are out to spoil the peace, and that the government forces are the legitimate side trying to bring order. This is a dangerous oversimplification, and one that the United States needs to be far more careful about endorsing.
So, whose side are we on? And equally important, who’s on our side?Click here for reuse options!
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