Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 14, 2007

Musing on Iranq

The fogs of war leave me lost on the current situation in Iraq. That is their purpose so let us try to wade through them and to keep some things straight. Please add to this in the comments.

Three issues came up these days. First the new plan for Baghdad. Then the "Sadr is in Iran" story and of course the war on Iran preparations.

A Navy General, put in charge by Maliki for the current (third) crackdown in Baghdad, announced martial law:

The plan includes a tightening of the few remaining liberties left for Iraqis in the jittery capital, including an earlier nighttime curfew and closer scrutiny of packages, mail and electronic communications. It imposes unspecified restrictions on gatherings in public places, clubs, companies and organizations "in order to protect citizens and those working in these places."
[...]
Under the plan, Qanbar said, his commanders will be authorized to interrogate and arrest all individuals, inspect private property and seize any weapons, presumably without seeking the approval of courts or political leaders.
[...]
The plan calls for restrictions on the movements of vehicles and individuals as well as for surprise sweeps of roadways, Qanbar said. It includes tougher laws for those who commit violence or harbor alleged terrorists and special court sessions to speed up trials.

The plan also addresses the explosive issue of displaced Iraqis, demanding that squatters in the homes of families who fled their neighborhoods out of fear of sectarian violence vacate the properties within 15 days.

I have yet to find any U.S. press account that reflects on the legality of such martial law measures. Did the parliament have a say in this? How and when? What is this silence after hyping blue thumbs just a year ago?

The last point of the plan also bears one simple question. Where are the people leaving sqatter homes supposed to go?

Most did not take houses because they had no place of their own. They were forced by sectarian-based cleansing to leave their home and found new ones where other had also been forced to leave. It is impossible to turn that clock back. One cannot repair shattered glas by just putting the pieces back into place.

The "Sadr fled to Tehran" story needs some scrutiny too. Some anonymous U.S. officials say he is in Tehran.  His people disagree. I regard this as merging the two propaganda campaigns against Teheran and against Sadr.

It does not make any sense to see Iran and Sadr in the same fold. While Sadr, his father and his grandfather stayed in Iraq during Saddam's rule, the leaders of the other Iraqi Shia parties SCIRI and Dawa did flee to Iran. They lived there for 20 years and their militia were trained by Iranian revolutionary guards. These militia are the core of the Iraqi Army and police force and the major force in the civil war and sectarian cleansing.

SCIRI and Dawa are definitely under Iranian influence and anti-Sunni while Sadr's movement is reaching out to Sunnis and does not have much love for Tehran.

But in Iraq the U.S. for now has settled to support Iranian-supported sectarian Shia SCIRI and Dawa forces which tend to prefer a partitioning of Iraq. At the same time it is spoiling for a fight against the more nationalistic Sadr movement which negotiates with the Sunnis and wants to keep Iraq together.

In the bigger context of the Middle East the U.S. also tries to set up a Sunni-Shia split by pushing the Sunni dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and various Emirates against a half-way democratic Shia Iran.

While it seems to make no sense to promote pro-Iranian forces in Iraq and anti-Iranian forces elsewhere, this may make sense when squeezed through the propaganda filters of good and evil.

The idea is obviously to put Sadr and Iran into one and the same box labeled "Bad". That these are quite unlikely partners does not matter as long as people do not care to look into it.

The above is too complicated to be digested by the average U.S. talking head and her/his viewers. They by now certainly believe Sadr to be the source of all trouble in Iraq and  Tehran being the evil force backing him.

I still see all signs pointing in the direction of an attack on Iran. On the likelihood of this happening there are some interesting thoughts here and here.

Posted by b on February 14, 2007 at 04:25 PM | Permalink

Comments

Legality?.. Blue thumbs?.. That's so last year, b. (Or was it the year before?)

Here is something the Road to Surfdom caught from Bush's press conference:

Peace, Security & Car Bombings
(snip)
BUSH : You know, victory in Iraq is not going to be like victory in World War II. It’s one of those challenges I have to explain to the American what Iraq will look like in a situation that will enable us to say we have accomplished our mission.

First..Iraq will be a society in which we have relative peace. I say “relative peace” because if it’s like zero car bombings, it never will happen that way …the fundamental question is, can we help this government have the security force level necessary to make sure that the ethnic cleansing that was taking place in certain neighbourhoods has stopped.
(snip)

That's the most recent definition of mission accomplished - relative peace, relative democracy, relative rights, relative sovereignty.

On Iran, an iffy piece of news, worth a look:

Iran Revolutionary Guards: Unit engraved emblem on U.S. ship
A commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Wednesday that a commando unit has engraved the military organization's emblem into the side panel of an American warship stationed in the Persian Gulf.

Nur Ali Shushkari, the head of the Revolutionary Guards ground forces, told Iranian pro-government news agencies that the symbol was etched onto the ship by the crew of a submarine that had managed to reach the U.S. vessel without detection by radar.
(snip)

Posted by: Alamet | Feb 14, 2007 8:12:28 PM | 1

Just want to say thanks to Bernhardt for keeping this forum going. Billmon is missed, but the information offered by this group, I don't see anywhere else (but on Steve Gilliard's Newsblog). Please press on.

Posted by: mudduck | Feb 14, 2007 8:55:00 PM | 2

It appears the neocon's Plan A is to lie about Iran's involvement in killing US troops, so that attacking Iran can fit under the AUMF umbrella. That original Authorization to Use Military Force lets Bush invade even Lichtenstein if he deems it necessary for the Global War on Terra.

Alas, Plan A is flying back in their faces as fast as they can fling it. A true case of retromingency (pissing into the wind).

Fear not -- Plan B is just as likely to start the damn war. Plan B is to put lots of Navy assets into the Persian Gulf, and start doing intrusive flyovers of Iranian airspace. Stop some Iranian ships, tankers, or rowboats -- and gin up a plausible shooting incident. Presto, one war, on demand.

Plan C is to have Israel start it, by conventional or nuclear bombing of Iranian facilities. This lets America come in the following day in defense of poor little Israel. This may need to wait for Netanyahu to regain the Prime Minister's office. Right now, Olmert is not on speaking terms with his Defense Minister, so it is unlikely they will go to war on neocon orders.

One way or the other, we'll get this Iranian war cranked up, lads. Then it's every man for himself, all around the world. Nobody's going to come out ahead on this one.

Posted by: Antifa | Feb 14, 2007 9:17:11 PM | 3

Nacht und Nebel

Ihren Ende eilen sie zu,
die so stark im Bestehen sich wanend.
Fast sham'ich mich,mit ihnen zu shaffen;
zur leckenden Lohe mich wieder zu wandeln,
spur'ich lockende Lust.

(from Das Rheingold)


They hasten to their end,
though they think themselves strong and enduring.
I am almost ashamed to share their doings;
my fancy lures me to transform myself
back into flickering flames.

Posted by: jlcg | Feb 14, 2007 9:35:15 PM | 4

The message to the Iranian people is that your leaders are making decisions that are isolating you in the world, thereby denying you a brighter future. And I believe Iran is an unbelievably vital nation. It's got a great history, it's got wonderful traditions, it's got very capable, smart people. There is -- I believe there's also a desire to not be isolated from the world. And our policies are all aimed at convincing the Iranian people there's a better way forward, and I hope their government hears that message.

They're rubber, you're glue. What you say bounces off them, sticks on you.

Posted by: catlady | Feb 14, 2007 9:49:53 PM | 5

From today's press conference (ugh):

The message to the Iranian people is that your leaders are making decisions that are isolating you in the world, thereby denying you a brighter future. And I believe Iran is an unbelievably vital nation. It's got a great history, it's got wonderful traditions, it's got very capable, smart people. There is -- I believe there's also a desire to not be isolated from the world. And our policies are all aimed at convincing the Iranian people there's a better way forward, and I hope their government hears that message.

They're rubber, you're glue. What you say bounces off them, sticks on you.

Posted by: catlady | Feb 14, 2007 9:50:23 PM | 6

Quote:
..."brighter future"...
---
Who ever don't want it will be bitten in to it by USA.

If it is brighter future why the heck so many countries do not want it and have to be bitten to death to accept it?

Probably because they already have seen it in Iraq , ex Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Kosovo) etc. and elsewhere where American colonies are positioned.

Posted by: vbo | Feb 14, 2007 10:54:42 PM | 7

Threats made by the Bush administration must be credible to be (non-domestically) useful, and must leave room for climbdown if they are empty. By creating a sense of certainty that they are "crazy enough to do it", the media/blog world may actually be strengthening Bush's credibility even as it questions his sanity, without requiring him to say things making a climbdown more difficult. Further, if the perception is that an attack is inevitable and decoupled from enrichment or alleged indirect assistance, then there is no reason for the Iranian leadership to do anything but redouble/harden/disperse enrichment and militia-arming activities. Therefore inducing a certainty is undesirable in any case. So the question is, is the restraint (i.e. unnamed sources, not accusing the 'top levels') done in order to leave room for a climbdown, or in order to avoid creating an atmosphere of certainty that would cause Iranian preparations for attack to begin in earnest, or are they even sure why? At any rate it seems to me that the current tone from this administration is optimal regardless of future intentions.

I think it is interesting that we in the left blogswarm are aiding the Bush administration in the event that the enrichment/covert war by Iran issues are the real motive here by increasing the level of intimidation without investing administration credibility.

If turning the entire middle east into something resembling Nigeria (in order to ensure a level of security allowing resource extraction but not the formation of states with the security required to assert themselves in the market) and eliminate threats to Israel is the real motive, then... it's all ballistic at this point. Then the only effect of the current buzz is to cause a redoubling of efforts as described above, to deal the counterblow in Iraq. If that were happening, you'd probably want to seal the borders and declare martial law in advance. uh oh.

Scheuer's Shermanesque nightmare lurching ever closer. After a few years of it being really ugly, the oil fields would finally be wiped clean of indigenous troublemakers and staffed by an international crew of technical and paramilitary contractors. The run-up to that would be such a mess as to make many self-perceived caring human beings welcome the predictable low-intensity Gaza-style anarchy that such a situation would bring.

Posted by: boxcar mike | Feb 14, 2007 11:00:37 PM | 8

I don't mean to say that "covert war by Iran" is a known fact. I do think they back armed groups in Iraq, but that this is only a 'covert war' if they are turned loose, which they don't seem to be.

Posted by: boxcar mike | Feb 14, 2007 11:27:41 PM | 9

vbo,

I think the word you are looking for is beaten instead of bitten. although your word works too ;>)

Posted by: dan of steele | Feb 15, 2007 3:16:29 AM | 10

Obviously, the U.S. is conflating the events in Iraq with those in Iran in a last ditch effort. They're draging in Iran's influence in a dual attempt to yet again redefine U.S. interests in Iraq, using an inflated threat of Iran -- which they have ironically enabled by allowing Shiite sectarain interests to rise up in Iraq. Simply put, they have read the Maliki government the riot act, shape up to U.S. interests or you're out of power, choose the gold or the lead, as it were. To sweeten the deal the U.S. has agreed to take out (of Baghdad at least) the Sunni insurgency along with the "rogue" (those not willing to tow the U.S. line) elements of both the Badr and the Mahdi. To essentially nueter the Maliki government of both its internal and external natural allies.

It seems pretty clear that the administration prematurely went ahead with the Iranian weapons charge as a way of underlining to Maliki the seriousness of the blackmale intent by bringing Iran onto the Iraqi agenda. The explicit point being, the Iraqi government must, in order to survive, put U.S. interests above its own natural affinities with Iran -- even if as it does, threaten its own survival. The U.S. under no circumstance can allow Iranian interests to trump U.S. interests in Iraq, so the Iraqi government is being groomed to an addiction to U.S. power, shorn of natural allies, and forced to be an anti Iranian proxy. And if they wont do it Allawi surely will.

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 15, 2007 5:10:44 AM | 11

Obviously, the U.S. is conflating the events in Iraq with those in Iran in a last ditch effort. They're draging in Iran's influence in a dual attempt to yet again redefine U.S. interests in Iraq, using an inflated threat of Iran -- which they have ironically enabled by allowing Shiite sectarain interests to rise up in Iraq. Simply put, they have read the Maliki government the riot act, shape up to U.S. interests or you're out of power, choose the gold or the lead, as it were. To sweeten the deal the U.S. has agreed to take out (of Baghdad at least) the Sunni insurgency along with the "rogue" (those not willing to tow the U.S. line) elements of both the Badr and the Mahdi. To essentially nueter the Maliki government of both its internal and external natural allies.

It seems pretty clear that the administration prematurely went ahead with the Iranian weapons charge as a way of underlining to Maliki the seriousness of the blackmale intent by bringing Iran onto the Iraqi agenda. The explicit point being, the Iraqi government must, in order to survive, put U.S. interests above its own natural affinities with Iran -- even if as it does, threaten its own survival. The U.S. under no circumstance can allow Iranian interests to trump U.S. interests in Iraq, so the Iraqi government is being groomed to an addiction to U.S. power, shorn of natural allies, and forced to be an anti Iranian proxy. And if they wont do it Allawi surely will.

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 15, 2007 5:15:47 AM | 12

@ dan of steele
Thank you. I am more relaxed with my writing lately all though my broken English is obvious. I am doing spell-check but hey, your spelling is the weakest point of your language, ha-ha

----
http://www.worldnewsaustralia.com.au/region.php?id=134827&region=4

Quote:

US to take 7000 Iraqi refugees

...Washington had been under fire for its response to the mounting refugee crisis which has seen two million Iraqis flee their war-ravaged nation and another nearly two million displaced inside the country.
----
vbo: if it's not tragic this would be hilarious. They made 4 million people refugees (and counting). They keep talking how Serbs made Kosovo Albanians refugees and Bosnians, never mentioning 200 000 Serbian refugees
from Kosovo and probably more then 350 000 from Croatia. But we are all amateurs in making refugees comparing to USA.

Quote:
...He after meeting with Ms Rice, who pledged to provide an initial $US18 million ($A23m) to the UN effort.

---
vbo: $US 18 million? Don't tell. I wonder how poor USA can spare that much money for such an unimportant task. This always makes me laugh...When they come with sum like this for any serious purpose. For example when they wow to give Serbia 45 million dollars if it agree with what ever idiotic "solution" they come with.
I really do think that they are totally out of touch with reality. One can probably find at least few commercial buildings in Belgrade worth that kind of money. And at least tens of businessmen in Belgrade having more then that.

http://www.worldnewsaustralia.com.au/transcript.php#

Quote:

...Now a special look at Iraq's refugee crisis. Almost 4 million Iraqis have been displaced from their homes since the war began in what the United Nations describes as a "humanitarian disaster".

INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW HARPER

ANDREW HARPER: What we're looking at is a long-term displacement if not permanent displacement.

ANDREW HARPER: The obvious impact of losing the middle-class, the professionals, is that it is a going to be a short-term crisis. This is a crisis which is going to have an impact on generations of Iraqis. When you lose 80% of your doctors, when you least 80% of your teachers and professors, that means that your medical system is collapsing, it means that your education system is collapsing. So no matter how much development you put inside Iraq, if there is no-one to provide medical services, education, governance to the country, then you have got to ask where is Iraq heading in the next few years.

ANDREW HARPER: This is one of the fundamental concerns that the United Nations has at the moment, because there has been the safety valve where Iraqis have been able to cross into Syria, into Jordan and Egypt and into Iran as well. But with the borders being increasingly restrictive - I don't necessarily think they are closed, although there is a security crackdown at the moment - then you going to get Iraqis basically bounced around inside Iraq into almost like a killing zone. You have got a number of governments inside Iraq who have closed borders to IDPs, so then they have to go back into the areas which they have just fled from. And how can you flee into an area where they have just been attacked - where they have been murdered, threatened, where the women have been raped. It is a horrific situation and we cannot downplay it.

Posted by: vbo | Feb 15, 2007 8:18:05 AM | 13

This probably confirms that the "surge" is fake: 173rd Airborne heading to Afghanistan

The 173rd Airborne Brigade of Vicenza, Italy, will replace the 10th’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Pentagon announced Wednesday. The 173rd was previously scheduled to head to Iraq.

Posted by: b | Feb 15, 2007 11:04:17 AM | 14

"The idea is obviously to put Sadr and Iran into one and the same box labeled "Bad". That these are quite unlikely partners does not matter as long as people do not care to look into it."
Heck, at some point, half the Americans thought bloody Saddam conspired with Al-Qaeda in 9/11.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Feb 15, 2007 11:08:52 AM | 15

"retromigency"

thanks.

the http://www.strategypage.com/qnd/iraq/articles/20070215.aspx>greatest analysis of the war ever written.

ever.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 15, 2007 3:42:10 PM | 16

ever?

While the number of terror bombings has been declining in the past year, the crime rate has not, and most people in central Iraq are looking forward to the "Battle for Baghdad."

color me unconvinced

Posted by: annie | Feb 15, 2007 5:11:01 PM | 17

"color" has much to do w/ that "analysis", annie

Posted by: b real | Feb 15, 2007 5:12:23 PM | 18

my guess is the neocons had high expectations of getting to tehran via baghdad. as i recall in the 8 yr war between iraq and iran many iraqi shia battled iran shia. perhaps the ptb did not anticipate such a huge nationalistic shia block defiantly opposed to the separate states and the occupation.

if all had gone swimmingly and the oil contracts had gone thru easily the ptb perhaps were anticipating a strong iraqi shia state as allies opposed to iran in essence dividing the power of the shia and operating as a wedge between iraq and iran?

not very smart. were they planning on becoming the great defenders of iraqi shia? if it weren't for pesky sadr and his band of merrymen. i still see this as primarily a war between the nationalists and all who aren't. getting rid of sadr serves 2 purposes, it culls the nationalists but it also strips malikis support bases without having to outright come in and replace him w/a coup.

anna missed linked to badgers thread the other day about this. one points stand out for me, they will be taking on the entire 10 sections of baghdad at one time. i found this interesting. by sectioning off the areas at once it prevents the 'terrorists' from moving about in the other areas (we'll see about that), but it also makes for a very large scale operation. one in which it is more difficult to isolate and/or document. sadr city helps 'balance' the purging of sunni areas. i cannot help but wonder how the troops will be divided into which neighboorhoods. will they assign the kurds to operate in conjunction w/US in sadr city while the sciri militias (cough IA troops) take on sunni areas.

i wonder if they have a labyrinth of roadblocks planned or electric wire or what/how do they plan on 'gating' all these areas. 6 million people. sheesh.

we really have no idea what the MO of the resistance is for this purge. chances are they have a plan too. ya think?

Posted by: annie | Feb 15, 2007 5:55:02 PM | 19

One thing about the "oil spot" idea being floated in Baghdad, and I hear all the time "that after an area has been cleared by the U.S. things settle down and security returns" -- is that often clearing an area means clearing the area of military age males. And in Iraq that means men aged 14 to 65. So sure, the area becomes secure, but there are no men left! Not to be sexist, but who does the work? You can't have a functioning community without men, not to mention the problem of where those men go, what those left do with themselves, and who and how long can everbody be kept seperated.

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 15, 2007 9:37:28 PM | 20

I keep hearing this fragment from yesterday's press conference replayed on NPR. Did anyone else find this response particularly chilling? The emperor speaks:

Q Do you believe it's a civil war, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: I can only tell you what people on the ground, whose judgment -- it's hard for me, living in this beautiful White House, to give you an assessment, firsthand assessment. I haven't been there; you have, I haven't. But I do talk to people who are and people whose judgment I trust, and they would not qualify it as that. There are others who think it is. It is, however, a dangerous situation, thereby requiring action on my part.

Posted by: catlady | Feb 15, 2007 9:57:20 PM | 21

what i find chilling is that the guy is still in a position of power

Posted by: b real | Feb 15, 2007 10:11:36 PM | 22

Pat Lang's http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3734>Musing on Iraq, What it tells us about ourselves.

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 15, 2007 10:15:01 PM | 23

OK, Typepad, eat shit.

Try this: copy into the address bar, close the gap and press go.

ht tp://afamilyinbaghdad.blogspot.com/

Posted by: pb | Feb 15, 2007 11:26:51 PM | 24

Is'nt it a little weird that U.S. intelligence would raid SCIRI cleric and parliament member al-Saghir's offices today? Has the U.S. and SCIRI had a falling out? Has'nt al-Sahir also been an outspoken critic of militias, especially the Mahdi Army? Who the hell is suppose to be supporting the Maliki government after the U.S. has chased all his supporters away? Is the U.S. Army going to be Maliki's sole remaining political base, army, and tax collector once the Iranian influence is purged?

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 16, 2007 4:15:13 AM | 25

A Family in Baghdad

Posted by: DM | Feb 16, 2007 5:34:12 AM | 26

In Iraq, anyone can make a bomb

PRESIDENT BUSH HAS now definitively stated that bombs known as explosively formed penetrators — EFPs, which have proved especially deadly for U.S. troops in Iraq — are made in Iran and exported to Iraq. But in November, U.S. troops raiding a Baghdad machine shop came across a pile of copper disks, 5 inches in diameter, stamped out as part of what was clearly an ongoing order. This ominous discovery, unreported until now, makes it clear that Iraqi insurgents have no need to rely on Iran as the source of EFPs.

The truth is that EFPs are simple to make for anyone who knows how to do it. Far from a sophisticated assembly operation that might require state supervision, all that is required is one of those disks, some high-powered explosive (which is easy to procure in Iraq) and a container, such as a piece of pipe. I asked a Pentagon analyst specializing in such devices how much each one would cost to make. "Twenty bucks," he answered after a brief calculation. "Thirty at most."

Posted by: b | Feb 16, 2007 8:46:35 AM | 27

caught this in a feb 15th letter over at asia times online

The ability of "back yard" machine shops to make conical shaped-charge explosives has been known since the 1940s. They are in common everyday use for penetrating heavy steel casing and concrete in the oilfields all over the world. If the truth be known, I'd bet there were many more IEDs [improvised explosive devices] with US manufacturing marks which had to be discarded when gathering this so-called evidence of Iranian involvement. Every oil-producing country has thousands of these shaped-charge devices, which are used to penetrate the casing and tubing to allow the oil to flow into the producing pipe. It has come to pass that I believe any other government but my own. What a sham!

Posted by: b real | Feb 16, 2007 10:32:21 AM | 28

pd, here's your link

thanks, it's incredible.

anna missed, excellent lang.

clearing an area means clearing the area of military age males. And
in Iraq that means men aged 14 to 65. So sure, the area becomes secure,
but there are no men left! Not to be sexist, but who does the work?

frankly, if you and all your male neighbors were hauled away i would
imagine 'who is going to do the work' would be the last thing on your
families minds.

the problem of where those men go

for one thing, many of them will not go quietly, which means they may
just go to the morgue. the others? prison.

what those left do with themselves

cry, worry

and how long can everbody be kept separated.

waiting for godot? or should i say gitmo?


Posted by: annie | Feb 16, 2007 12:00:45 PM | 29

actually annie, DM supplied the link for pd @ #26 but I only mention that because it was such an excellent, moving, and informative read and deserves repetition again.

Posted by: Juannie | Feb 16, 2007 5:59:25 PM | 30

juannie, i had a problem w/posting the other night and actually sent that link to b to post for me right after pd posted it! (can you follow that?) i had already seem DM's link when i knew mine would be appearing the next day. ah life. but you're right. it is so good, i bookmarked the blog.

i'm re reading these threads in search of a post i read days ago. i love reviewing this stuff in the wee hrs of the morn. this place is fantastic.

Posted by: annie | Feb 18, 2007 6:40:54 AM | 31

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