Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 20, 2011

House Cleaning In Iraq

As the U.S. military is gone and before the U.S. embassy force of some 16,000 people is assembled Iraqi premier Maliki is using the time to clean the house:

A day after the United States withdrew its last combat troops, Iraq faced a dangerous political crisis Monday as the Shiite-dominated government ordered the arrest of the Sunni vice president, accusing him of running a death squad that assassinated police officers and government officials.

Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi may well have run death squads or planned for a coup. It doesn't really matter.

That Maliki would not let the Sunni politicians have any serious power was clear since he, despite the post-election coalition agreement, kept the interior and defense ministry under his personal control. That he would push the Sunni further away from power after the threat of the U.S. military was removed was obvious too. His next target will be the former(?) CIA agent and leader of the Sunni Iraqiya coalition Allawi.

The question is now if this house cleaning will lead to a renewed civil war. The Saudis may have an interest to finance another Sunni insurrection in Iraq but I doubt that it will happen. An insurrection or civil war needs some energetic support from some part of the population. But after nine exhaustive years of war that needed fervor is likely to have burned itself out.

People by now will have enough of it. They will want to concentrate on rebuilding their cities and their lives. As long as the state is willing to dole out some money to help with that, and Iraq has the money to do so, they will have little interest in a renewed conflict.

After Maliki has removed the possible threat from the Sunni side and established a firmer hold on the state he will concentrate on the Kurdish part of the country. The autonomy the Kurds have developed over the last two decades is a long term threat to the integrity of the Iraqi state.

The trick there will be to use the traditional split between the clan of the current President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party Massoud Barzani, and the clan of the current President of Iraq Jalal Talabani and his Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. During their last conflict 1996 Barzani called on Saddam Hussein to fight Talabani's PUK while Talabini had support from Iran. As no country in the region but Israel has an interest in an autonomous Kurdistan Maliki is likely able to co-opt Talabani and assert more control over Barzani and the Iraqi Kurdish region.

U.S. influence in Iraq is in freefall. It clearly has no more control over anything happening there. Historians may point out that this was inevitable after Ayatollah Sistani demanded a democratically elected government instead of the unelected colonial regime the U.S. pro-consul Bremer had planned for. From there on majority rule took over the Shia rose to their natural position.

Within U.S. politics there is no more interest in Iraq, it is out of sight and out of the mind of the electorate. The lessons to be learned from the war will therefore be lost and what led to the war and the errors throughout it will be repeated.

Posted by b on December 20, 2011 at 08:25 AM | Permalink

Comments

Very well written. Hardly anybody recognizes the critical role Sistani played in taking this US invasion out of US hands by calling the democracy bluff.

Posted by: Khalid Shah | Dec 20, 2011 9:03:09 AM | 1

I smell another invasion and occupation twenty years down the road. Guaranteed revenue and profit streams for defense contractors and oil companies well into the future. Mission Accomplished. They're planting crops across the globe to be harvested when the time is right. Bringing In The Sheaves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u67Lb1RyXTU

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Dec 20, 2011 9:41:03 AM | 2

Reinvade Iraq to save the Iraqis from the Iraq we gave them? Continue killing to bring peace.

Posted by: DakotabornKansan | Dec 20, 2011 10:25:09 AM | 3

US ‘wars’ - invasion, destruction, bombing, killing massively and impoverishing millions, destroying infrastructure and agriculture, are their own justification. Sure, there’s a power play in it, a blasting piercing clarion message - Watch Out.

To quote one famous General, war is a racket.

The destruction and devastation leaves room for plundering, reconstruction, starting over, re-building, re-organizing, or just nothing, a void with children eating garbage, slithering in the muck and offering sexual favors for candy, cigarettes, antibiotics for Gran, etc. As the tax payers paid for the whole shebang in any case no returns are expected.

It has become the epitome of a world dedicated to thrash and burn and let the devil take the hindmost while a small segment make out like bandits, at the same time thrilled to see Torture, Rape, on flat screens.

What did the US gain with the invasion of Iraq? Nothing.

Dominating the ME with a US client state in the middle of it, Iraq, was illusory in 1998, in 2003, etc. as multiple voices pointed out.

one brief article:

Spoils of Iraq war evade US and UK, financial express:

https://www.financialexpress.com/news/spoils-of-iraq-war-evade-us-and-uk/888704/

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 20, 2011 10:29:31 AM | 4

The destruction and devastation leaves room for plundering, reconstruction, starting over, re-building, re-organizing, or just nothing, a void with children eating garbage, slithering in the muck and offering sexual favors for candy, cigarettes, antibiotics for Gran, etc. As the tax payers paid for the whole shebang in any case no returns are expected.

It reminds me of that scene from the Deerhunter, well, there were many such scenes, but this particular scene was Nick Chevotarevich wandering the streets of Saigon after he is released from the hospital. He wanders into the bar with Vietnamese girls dancing on stage and he is solicited by a Vietnamese girl, very young, for sex. He agrees, or rather is led to her small one room apartment, if you could call it that, and lo and behold, there's her baby in a makeshift crib/playpen. The woman, no doubt in order to survive another day because her family was killed or taken from her, or vice versa, engages in one of the few, if not only, opportunities available to her.....and you're left with the impression that this is ultimately what it's all about. You bomb a country to smithereens at the unwitting and uncaring taxpayers' expense and reap the rewards of the arbitrage that rises from the ashes like a Phoenix. It's sick.....and it's the new bubble....same as the old bubble.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_8d0DJpbBI&feature=related

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Dec 20, 2011 11:05:08 AM | 5

Noirette @ 4: thanks for the link, here's the real point......

"US and British groups won early, lucrative contracts in oil and gas, including ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell’s bid to develop Iraq’s huge West Qurna oilfield. Beyond energy, however, investment is modest and Iraqi officials have expressed disappointment in private-sector interest from the two countries that ended a dictatorship and cracked open its free market."

I don't think the West gives damn about anything in Iraq besides the oil access. If that access is threatened, they'll be back in there in force. Besides, how many contractors are still there? thousands, I believe. I know I sound like a broken record,but, resource hegemony was, and still is, the prize in Iraq.

Does anyone believe Maliki has REAL autonomy in Iraq?

Posted by: ben | Dec 20, 2011 11:35:46 AM | 6

Does anyone believe Maliki has REAL autonomy in Iraq?

Sure, why not? He's certainly acting like he does.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 20, 2011 12:03:26 PM | 7

The last Huey out of Saigon

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 20, 2011 12:11:46 PM | 8

Remember when b predicted the American army would be surrounded and defeated?

I do.

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 20, 2011 2:03:11 PM | 9

oh yeah sloth, your percentage of being right versus being wrong is a hell of lot better than b's.

always the troll

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 20, 2011 2:07:09 PM | 10

@ 9

no that was me

& they were surrounded

& they were defeated

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 20, 2011 2:17:18 PM | 11

Remember when b said that it would never happen in Syria? And even when it happened in Syria it was just a big media plot?

I do.

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 20, 2011 2:29:39 PM | 12

@12 Predicting is a tough thing and anything over 300 is probably a pretty good average regardless of who is doing the predicting. Most people come at topics from a personal point of view and this is true of b as well. I do not fully agree with b's POV but nevertheless do find is analysis's most often very insightfull and though provoking. Ultimately that is helpful in thinking for oneself. b was saying that there is something foul about the insurgents in Syria (and earlier in Libya) when very few prescribe to this view. Events have shown him to be correct about Libya and I fear he probably will be right about the insurgents/fighters in Syria as well. This doesn't take away from the valid point that Qaddafi was and Asad is a very bad ruler. These are complex issues and the analysis by b is really top drawer. If you are reading him, you don't have to agree but you may get much more benefit for yourself if you work through the analysis. There is a tendency to act like a troll in all of us. Acting on that tendency doesn't help others, doesn't help us and doesn't help 'our' cause.

Posted by: Khalid Shah | Dec 20, 2011 2:48:25 PM | 13

Although as debs noted, a considerable mitigation of Q's prodigious evil, is that Libya minted some cool stamps.

Posted by: slothrop | Dec 20, 2011 2:52:49 PM | 14

The US forces slunk away in the middle of the night, and Iraq is lining up with the Shia'a block and Iran; but that is only one aspect of the defeat. The US is not the country it was before the war. And for the aggressor, defeat involves having sunk into barbarism; it involves committing war crimes, it means also having ravaged its own society from within and picked the rule of law to pieces. This kind of defeat has lead the US, the country responsible for aggression and crimes against peace, from the relatively open society it once was, to the economically cannibalized, militarized, proto police state it is today.

If this is not a dead loss and defeat, what is? When the collapse of an empire is at last complete, the defeated armies come home to a society where there are no jobs for them, where there are no provisions for the others who are jobless. And if the society cannot reach into itself and find its moral center; then it may sink into a further depravity, which is a deeper aspect of defeat.

Posted by: Copeland | Dec 20, 2011 3:09:14 PM | 15

The U.S. was indeed surrounded and defeated. Surrounded and defeated by their own impending irrelevancy. Clearly, the U.S. was gamed out of Iraq primarily on the diplomatic front - by the Iraqi's feeding (the U.S.) the required and expected portion of bullshit they desired and needed to propagate the grand illusion. And sure as shit, the U.S. adorned itself in this grand illusion and paraded it right up until the final moment - when as I witnessed on television with my own eyes the other day, as the last tank crossed into Kuwait, to understated fan-fair, they actually closed a great big gate across the road. Like it was the final chapter in some cheap pulp fiction novel.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 20, 2011 3:12:25 PM | 16

b is probably right about near term Iraq. The Sunni insurgency is not only a spent force - defeated by the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad that saw its political, professional, and economic clout killed or banished into exile - but also a demoralized one, whip lashed by the great Awakening capitulation and the disintegration of Iraqiya. Hard to see where any formidable resistance to Shiite political domination is going to come from.

Posted by: anna missed | Dec 20, 2011 3:41:19 PM | 17

Pretty good analysis, b. You've got it about right, in my view.

I'm not sure I understand clearly quite why Maliki has chosen the anti-Sunni sectarian option. There's some evidence that it is more obsession than plan. Like when, a couple of years ago, he accused the Syrians of helping Sunni bombers, on no evidence. After all, the Sunnis are pretty much beaten down these days, and are in no way rivals. The mirror image of Saudi and Gulfi obsessions about their Shi'a.

The present move seems intended to finish the Sunnis off. Probably to stop the bombings in Baghdad, if indeed they are being done by the Sunnis.

The Kurds are a pretty big morsel to chew on. Right now they are more powerful than Arab Iraq. According to what I heard in Erbil in November, they are still moving forward, and taking over villages outside their control. But it must be Maliki's plan in the long term to bring them down. Getting rid of the Americans was a good move in that respect.

However, if the Kurds have a problem, there's always the danger that either the US or Israel will arm them. More likely Israel, as they don't care what happens if, as a side effect, that leads to greater war with the Turks.

If Maliki does turn against the Kurds, you will see it first in a move to cut the subsidies to the Kurds. At present, the Kurds receive more than their fair share of Iraqi (oil) revenues. They are a minority in the Iraqi parliament, and the privileges they had have now expired. Easy to engineer a vote. Though Maliki has often relied on Kurdish support to win a vote.

All in all, it's going to take quite a time to settle Iraq. As b suggests, the traditional practice for a state in weakness is to knock off one enemy after another. I would say that is what Maliki wants, but it is not 100% certain.

By the way, if you believe Iraq is an artificial country, invented by the British after the First World War, read the only article I have ever contributed to the academic field of international relations:

‘Iraq al-Arabi: Iraq’s greatest region in the pre-modern period’, pp 151-166 in R. Visser and G. Stansfield, (eds.), An Iraq of Its Regions: The Cornerstones of a Federal Democracy? (London and New York: Hurst & Co. and Columbia University Press), 2007.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 20, 2011 3:46:44 PM | 18

Iran hasn't been mentioned, I believe, and it deserves some recognition as a victor from Operation Iraqi Freedom which also brought increased U.S. (poor loser!) charges against Iran: nukes, assassination, etc. Also involved is a huge arms sale to Saudi Arabia along with U.S. encouragement for SA to counter Iran in the region. That's not difficult as Iraq, a buffer state between Iran and Saudi Arabia, has been transformed from secular/Sunni to Shia/Iran ally.

Dec 20 (Reuters) - Gulf Arab leaders on Tuesday broadly endorsed Saudi King Abdullah's call to form a "single entity" in what appeared to be an attempt to form a more united front against a perceived threat from Iran. . . .Saudi leaders believe Iran has come to dominate Iraq, with King Abdullah quoted in U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks as saying that the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 had gifted Iraq to Iran "on a golden platter," and describing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as "Iranian 100 percent."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 20, 2011 4:08:19 PM | 19

re 15

The US forces slunk away in the middle of the night, ... but that is only one aspect of the defeat. The US is not the country it was before the war.

Absolutely. Though not literally, as the last US troops left in daylight, as I saw in a video.

The trillion dollars spent on ... nothing. No positive result. Well, not entirely. The military-industrial complex profited. Although it was not the original intention - which was that Iraq should pay the costs - in the end it was the US taxpayer who paid for the military-industrial complex's profits. Or rather, to be more precise, it was borrowing from China which paid, and it is the US taxpayer who is going to pay in the future. Bizarre.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 20, 2011 4:19:15 PM | 20

Obama is celebrating (again) the end of a war but at the time it wasn't a war it was the "use of the armed forces."

news report:
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.—Blending solemn tradition with joyous reunion, the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq returned home to U.S. soil Tuesday, greeted by his wife and his president in an understated ceremony to mark the end of the nine-year conflict. . .

President Barack Obama met Gen. Lloyd Austin and his top command staff with a smart salute at this military post in suburban Washington. Austin made his homecoming with his staff bearing the U.S. Forces-Iraq flag, the symbolic conclusion to the war. (end report)

AUMF
Authorizes the President to use the U.S. armed forces to: (1) defend U.S. national security against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.. .Declares that this section is intended to constitute specific statutory authorization for use of the armed forces, consistent with requirements of the War Powers Resolution.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 20, 2011 4:22:08 PM | 21

re 19

Iran comes out well from the US withdrawal from Iraq, that is right. But the Shi'a regime in Iraq is not a slave of Tehran.

In one way the result is worse for Iran. When the US was in occupation of Iraq, Israel could not overfly it to attack Iran. Now they can, as Iraq does not have the means to stop them. Israel now has a shorter route: Jordan is not going to stop them, nor Iraq.

That does not change the odds really, as an airborne attack on Iran was always risky, made worse by the possibility that Iran has penetrated US electronics (not surprising - all those Iranians in California - some must be loyal to Tehran).

Posted by: alexno | Dec 20, 2011 4:44:54 PM | 22

alexno

a lot of the troops did leave in the middle of the night. if you saw them crossing into Kuwait during daylight, it is very possible that they left when it was dark.

also, the 800 billion that corporate media says is the cost of the war or 1 trillion as you say does not accurately assess the cost. the DoD public budget is already around 800 billion per year and that has been spent for 9 years now. I think it is safe to say a good part of that budget went to feeding the war machine in Iraq. plus there is a secret budget for "black ops" that we don't even know the dollar amount of. I am willing to bet it is significant.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 20, 2011 5:07:45 PM | 23

re 23

Although it's of absolutely no importance, the video I saw was of the last US military vehicle leaving Iraq, and after it they closed the gates. It was in daylight.

No significance, because in effect they crept out. A significant defeat for the US.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 20, 2011 5:29:16 PM | 24

How Iran Beat America

Robert Baer’s observations, The Devil We Know, Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower, on Iran’s exploitation of our false perceptions of what Iran is:

“The one certainty about the Iraq War is that the United States will see Iran’s imperial ambitions played out more clearly there than in Tehran. If it is in Iran’s interests to have chaos in Iraq, then chaos there will be. If Iran intends to draw the United States into a quagmire, a quagmire is what we’ll get. Our war with Iran will be fought in Iraq, through proxies, on the periphery of Iran’s empire. How could we have missed this so badly?”

“If the United States had listened to its enemies – Iranian proxies who’d fought other wars for Iran, on other peripheries of Iran’s growing empire – it might have understood the problems of occupying Iraq.”

“The Iranians know exactly what they have to do in Iraq. They wrote the template in Lebanon, where they learned how to manage chaos, to create order where there was none before. And they know there’s nothing the United States can do to stop them from doing the same in Iraq. The U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, called it Iran’s “Lebanization” of Iraq.”

“Nothing has changed…Americans still do not understand Iran’s strategy – what it wants in Iraq and how it intends to get it. We still do not understand the nature of proxy warfare, and how Iran can get its way through manipulating proxies. We will reduce the threat of Iran to weapons of mass destruction – to a nuclear bomb.”

Baer tells of a longtime Iranian specialist – “I could hear the resignation in his voice…It was inevitable we would commit over and over the same blunders that got us into the current Iraq quagmire.”

“For eight years, Iran tried, and failed, to defeat Iraq.” The United States “unintentionally handed Iran a victory it could never have achieved on its own. The United States was the instrument of its own defeat in the Middle East. By decimating Iraq’s army, we opened the door for Iran to annex Iraq and its oil through proxies – a process that is now well under way.”

Baer said that Iraq might seem a little better, but that wouldn’t last forever. “Chaos is never further than one mosque bombing away…Destroying Iraq was the greatest strategic blunder the country has made in history…there’s every reason to believe the Iraq War will end up changing the United States more than it will ever change Iraq.”

Posted by: DakotabornKansan | Dec 20, 2011 5:31:47 PM | 25

re 25

Robert Baer's observations are absurd. Iran is not an empire, and doesn't have such an ambition. What he is saying is a transposition of US ambitions on an enemy.

If it is in Iran’s interests to have chaos in Iraq, then chaos there will be. If Iran intends to draw the United States into a quagmire, a quagmire is what we’ll get.

It is the US that wants the chaos. It suits Israeli policy.

Amazing how US desires are transposed and placed on an enemy, who certainly doesn't have the same interests.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 20, 2011 5:49:35 PM | 26

Baer's point is that Iran can get its way through manipulating proxies. Actually Iran has an active, productive diplomatic corps. While we have Clinton criticizing every country on earth, Iran takes a friendlier, smarter approach. They're number two so they try harder. That's why Iran has many more friends in the world than the US does.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 20, 2011 6:14:20 PM | 27

Baer's point is that Iran can get its way through manipulating proxies.

Yeah, that's right, the US has spent much time "manipulating proxies". I've never heard of Iran doing that, in the reports that I've heard.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 20, 2011 6:27:24 PM | 28

Then I guess you've never heard of Mookie -- Muqtada al-Sadr.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 20, 2011 6:37:36 PM | 29

Muqtada al-Sadr is not in power. In any case, Muqtada al-Sadr's position is far less evident than the GOP's candidates in relation to Israel. There you have real servitude to a foreign power.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 20, 2011 6:53:04 PM | 30

Mookie, an agent of Iran, is a powerful man, mainly responsible for the continuity Maliki's leadership as well as the adherence to the US military's withdrawal schedule.

from a BBC profile:
. . .The result made Moqtada Sadr the kingmaker in the new parliament. He toyed initially with backing Mr Maliki's rival for the premiership, but in June agreed to a merger between the INA and the prime minister's State of Law coalition to ensure Shia groups remained in power.

Then in October, he was finally persuaded by Iran to drop his objection to Mr Maliki's reappointment in return for eight posts in the cabinet. Secure in his standing, Moqtada Sadr returned from Iran in January to scenes of jubilation.

In his first public speech on 8 January 2011, he called on his supporters to continue to resist the US occupation, but also for Iraqis to forget their past differences and seek unity. "Let the whole world hear that we reject America. No, no to the occupier."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 20, 2011 7:05:10 PM | 31

re 31 Don Bacon

You are applying to Iraq relationships of a type you wouldn't for a moment accept in the US as of any importance. Yes, of course, Maliki seeks political help from someone who has sought political help from Iran. That means nothing, like Obama appointed a Republican as Secretary of Defense. Has he thereby become a Republican? (it may be true, but not for that reason).

In any case, it is no longer of any significance to cite the BBC. Now they simply follow the view of the British government, and the British government has become a slave of the US.

Posted by: alexno | Dec 20, 2011 7:28:00 PM | 32

"Historians may point out that this was inevitable after Ayatollah Sistani demanded a democratically elected government instead of the unelected colonial regime the U.S. pro-consul Bremer had planned for"

Wow, "b". I have been harping on this for years, how Sistani was the key player in stopping the corporate looting that Bremer was put in place to enable. Its refreshing seeing someone actually give Sistani the credit that is due to him. Of course, it was originally Naomi Klein that so perfectly outlined the truth, and cast light on Sistani's heroic efforts on behalf of his people. Really, Sistani's successful effort to counter Bremer's attempt to loot the Iraqi assets through a constitutional provision was pivotal in handing Bremer, (and the drooling corporate CEOs that were poised like vultures), their walking papers.

Personally, I think Iraq is a powder keg. Its a clusterfuck of epic proportions, and its gonna blow up. Whats more, Obama will get blamed for it. Already the scum that launched this debacle are blaming Obama for a "premature pull-out". The same scum, of course, that told us this was going to be a very short military adventure, and that Iraqi oil would pay for it.Further, I think the handwriting was on the wall, the Neo-con criminals knew they had committed an epic fuck-up, and thats why Obama was placed in the Oval Office. He is going to be blamed for a disaster that is not of his own making, and the actual criminals that launched this clusterfuck are going to skate, chanting, "Gee, if we had only stayed in. We had it won, but Obama pulled us out too soon".

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 20, 2011 8:31:19 PM | 33

Do you think all these American weapons US is selling to Iraq will be handed over to Iran?

Posted by: nikon | Dec 20, 2011 8:49:06 PM | 34

@PissedOffAmerican

any website i can read about sistani?

Posted by: nikon | Dec 20, 2011 8:59:02 PM | 35

Bush, declaring a "national emergency," conferred Legal Immunity to Transnational Oil Corporations in Iraq on May 22, 2003.

Executive Order 13303 decrees that "any attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other judicial process is prohibited, and shall be deemed null and void," with respect to the Development Fund for Iraq and "all Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products, and interests therein."

The President, with a stroke of the pen, signed away the rights of Saddam's victims, creditors and of the next true Iraqi government to be compensated through legal action. Bush's order unilaterally declares Iraqi oil to be the unassailable province of U.S. corporations."

As POA indicates, Sistani changed all that and more. He has been called the "most influential" figure in post-invasion Iraq.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 20, 2011 9:47:43 PM | 36

If Mookie was any kind of threat, he'd be dead. How much proof do you need to understand that? Seriously. He's useful right now, so his influence is used and tolerated. You can not judge this from a traditional perspective without being privy to all the facts and information. The only thing you have at your disposal is pattern recognition....connecting the dots.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Dec 20, 2011 10:24:39 PM | 37

@MB -- Mookie
What are you talking about? Threat to whom?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 20, 2011 10:40:00 PM | 38

Mookie was invited to Iran for "religious study". Ever since then, he's been one of the key swing votes in Iraq.

Mookie is the religious and martial representative of Iraq's disenfranchised urban poor. In this fragile time as Iraq starts consolidating power and trying to build a resilient government, he poses a significant threat to any ruling party, Shia or Sunni.

Because he represents the poor and disenfranchised, and has built up contacts in Iran, he is also a potential wildcard in any Shia-dominated government. Maliki courts Mookie, not the other way around.

He has a voice, and he's capable of using it to get what he wants.

Ten years from now, though, he may well be politically irrelevant; but his religious standing and the nature of politics in the Middle East makes such an eventuality improbable, in my opinion.

Posted by: china_hand | Dec 21, 2011 12:14:57 AM | 39

"Historians may point out that this was inevitable after Ayatollah Sistani demanded a democratically elected government instead of the unelected colonial regime the U.S. pro-consul Bremer had planned for."

This was indeed the turning point in post-war Iraq. With a few words, Sistani brought out the vast Shiite masses and forced the US had to drop its plans.

Posted by: Patrick Cummins | Dec 21, 2011 12:38:09 AM | 40

@ Do you think all these American weapons US is selling to Iraq will be handed over to Iran?
Posted by: nikon | Dec 20, 2011 8:49:06 PM | 34

We already told Maliki to cross off the RQ-170 from the shopping list we gave him before we sent him up to visit Obama. We will be sure Maliki maintains the veneer of alliance with Uncle Weasel as long as the military hardware and trade deals keep coming.

Posted by: Unknown Unknowns | Dec 21, 2011 1:27:11 AM | 41

b,

I don't think you are appreciating the full scope of the Kurdish situation. 'Kurdistan' however you choose to define it, has four neighbors/components. They are, in order of most to least historical hostility: Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran.
The president of Iraq is now a Kurd, the Kurdish region has a significant say in the parliament and government of Iraq, and are seeing some huge oil revenues, and the Kurds at present enjoy all the autonomy they could want.
The situation in Turkey for the Kurds on the other hand is still, for several reasons still quite poor, quite a bit worse than the Kurdish experience in Iran and Syria. Turkey has more Kurds than any other country, and there are vast contiguous swaths of the country that are mostly Kurdish. On the other hand, Kurdish regions of Turkey are the origin of nearly all of Iraq's water, and Turkey is trying to impose it's own secular-militarist come Sunni-populist model of governance all over the region, which Iraqi Shi'a find deeply threatening. Furthermore, Turkey has not only openly backed and funded the Iraqia coalition in Iraq during elections, but has invaded Iraqi Kurdistan with thousands of troops to boot. In addition to all this, Kurdish oil needs to go to the Persian Gulf to get to market. The Kurds and the Shia will be able to find very many reasons maintain their current relationship and to refrain from rocking the boat for a long time to come.

Posted by: masoud | Dec 21, 2011 2:23:39 AM | 42

“The lessons to be learned from the war will therefore be lost and what led to the war and the errors throughout it will be repeated.”

Suggested conservative brand lesson plan at home…

Great Doonesbury!

"Not one has taken responsibility for the biggest foreign policy disaster in U.S. history."

https://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2011/12/20

“Let’s shoot for long-term memory.”

Posted by: DakotabornKansan | Dec 21, 2011 5:42:18 AM | 43

Also from today’s Doonesbury a card played that hasn’t yet been discussed on this thread:

“Our invasion of Iraq set in motion one of the worst Christian Diasporas in history. So what do we think about that? “

“Is “freakin’ ironic” an answer, sir?”

“Yes, but lets dig a little deeper”

“Since 2003, about 600,000 Christians of an estimated pre-war population of one million have been driven from their homes. A majority left Iraq.”

I wonder if the Obama will also get the blame for this from the pious Christian Right here in the Amerika.

Posted by: juannie | Dec 21, 2011 7:38:09 AM | 44

AC at Counterpunch seems to think Al Sadr is a true Iraqi patriot. They suggest he has good reason to hold Iran in come contempt--seems they murdered his Daddy or something. That's not to say he wouldn't make a deal, with Maliki, Iran, the US, whomever; but they seem to think he is an Iraqi nationalist. He had support in Iran, but not, historically, from the gov't. The reports here don't make that clear, and that may well have changed as he showed the leadership and support that became evident after the invasion.

Al Sistani's role is one that I had forgotten and I'm thankful to be reminded of his stewardship.

As I understand it, the civil war has been fought. Iraq is essentially segregated now. The problem is that the Sunni have few resources. The Shia have some oil but the ports and big cities, the Kurds have most of the oil and fresh water; the Sunni have some water but a lot of desert.

The Kurds will remain an interesting challenge for Iraq. They evidently enjoy a lot of autonomy, but I wonder how strongly they identify and exchange with their Kurdish neighbors in Turkey and Iran, and whether they will become restive for independence.

I don't know that Iran has won much in Iraq, by our leaving. How does a marathoner rate a 100 yards? The ousting of Saddam Hussein, who seemed eager to reconcile with the US, was probably a strategic setback if our interest is in containing Iran. We lost a lot in going to war in Iraq, we've been drained of so much cash, blood, and legitimacy.

Posted by: scottindallas | Dec 21, 2011 8:31:43 AM | 45

And then there is this....

"Noam Chomsky: I’m quite sure that those expectations are correct. There is very little doubt that the U.S. government intends to maintain effective military control over Afghanistan by one means or another, either through a client state with military bases, and support for what they’ll call Afghan troops. That’s the pattern elsewhere as well. So, for example, after bombing Serbia in 1999, the United States maintains a huge military base in Kosovo, which was the goal of the bombing. In Iraq, they’re still building military bases even though there is rhetoric about leaving the country. And I presume they will do the same in Afghanistan too, which is regarded by the U.S. as of strategic significance in the long term, within the plans of maintaining control of essentially the energy resources and other resources of the region, including western and Central Asia. So this is a piece of ongoing plans which in fact go back to the Second World War."

If Noam Chompsky has any credibility, the Empire is alive and well.

Posted by: ben | Dec 21, 2011 10:00:09 AM | 46

Tom Friedman, full of shit, sums up the Iraq War.

Tom Friedman then.

Down the memory hole.

Tom Friedman today.

https://jayackroyd.wordpress.com/2011/12/21/friedman/

Posted by: DakotabornKansan | Dec 21, 2011 10:11:34 AM | 47

I don't know that Iran has won much in Iraq, by our leaving. How does a marathoner rate a 100 yards?
Posted by: scottindallas

I think the answer lies in your own question!!!!

In there lies the short sightedness of the foreigners. It is not a bout a race, start to finish! Those people have been living along side one another for centuries and will continue to do so. The problem is mainly the outsiders who come in to rule, etc.. Once the problem is removed, they will continue to live long past the marathons or even the ultras!!

With only a couple of hundred years background, it is hard to relate to century old relations and interactions..

Posted by: Rd. | Dec 21, 2011 11:54:06 AM | 48

Suck. On. This.

Excerpt from Belén Fernández’s “The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work”

https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/3265/excerpt_beln_fernndezs_the_imp/

“A long overdue takedown of a dangerous fraud. Fernández deserves great credit for having the stomach to digest all of Friedman’s oeuvre and for her witty, fact-based and ruthless deconstruction of all his contradictions, incoherence, jingoism and inane aphorisms. You read it and you are amazed how a clown could rise to such dominance in American culture and how such drivel could pass for insight, and what that implies about us. The book is a vaccination that should be given to all college freshmen lest they too get infected, an antidote for those suffering from admiration of Friedman and a palliative remedy for those of us who have had aneurysms in reaction to his every latest bloviation.” - Nir Rosen, author of Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World

Posted by: DakotabornKansan | Dec 21, 2011 12:48:43 PM | 49

Baghdad bomb blasts kill 57 and injure dozens more in co-ordinated attack

A series of blasts his Baghdad this morning - killing at least 57 people and injuring 179 more.

The co-ordinated attack designed to wreak havoc across the Iraqi capital is the worst violence to hit the country since a political crisis between Iraq's Sunni and Shiite factions erupted this weekend.
...
Iraqi officials said at least 12 blasts went off early this morning in nine neighbourhoods around the city. The violence ranged from sticky bombs attached to cars to roadside bombs and vehicles packed with explosives.
...
Most of the violence appeared to hit Shiite neighbourhoods although some Sunni areas were also targeted. The worst attack was in the al-Amal neighbourhood where seven people were killed in a blast that appeared to target rescuers and officials who came to the scene after a previous explosion.

Posted by: b | Dec 22, 2011 5:03:40 AM | 50

“Is Iran a consideration in Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq’s attempt to purge high Sunni Arab officals from his government?”

Juan Cole on “Iran and Al-Maliki v. Sunni politicians”

https://www.juancole.com/2011/12/iran-and-al-maliki-v-sunni-politicians.html

“Regarding Tariq al-Hashimi, one of two vice presidents, now under an arrest warrant, it is worth noting that he is strongly supporting the Syrian opposition and opposes al-Maliki’s recent backing of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Iran deeply depends on al-Assad for its Middle East policy and as a conduit of aid to Hizbullah in southern Lebanon.”

Posted by: DakotabornKansan | Dec 22, 2011 6:25:18 AM | 51

So what is Cole thinking? Time to invade Iraq and displace the current leader there with someone to his liking?

Posted by: b | Dec 22, 2011 8:07:44 AM | 52

So what is Cole thinking? Time to invade Iraq and displace the current leader there with someone to his liking?

Given Cole’s past appalling judgment, probably to reinvade Iraq to save the Iraqis from the Iraq we gave them, and which he morally supported.

Carbonomics.net reviews Juan Cole’s past support for American Imperialism @

https://carbonomics.net/MCtfirm/10tf26/10tf26na.html

Posted by: DakotabornKansan | Dec 22, 2011 9:39:58 AM | 53

"So what is Cole thinking? Time to invade Iraq and displace the current leader there with someone to his liking?"

Are the Chalabi rodents still out there???? Maybe, uh, if we just start all over again, and stick to the manual....

Um, uh...oh...never mind.....

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Dec 22, 2011 9:45:24 AM | 54

Chalabi knows which side the wind blows and has been aligned with Al-Sadr for quite a while (or as some have suggested he was an Iranian agent from the start). No way it will come back to the US side.

Allawi is the latest US tool in Iraq.

Posted by: ThePaper | Dec 22, 2011 3:39:36 PM | 55

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