Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 12, 2007

A 'Cleansed' Iraq - Cheney's Gift to Tehran?

Within the U.S. foreign policy establishment there are two opposing strategic approaches towards the Persian Gulf area. Competing moves by and open collisions between the two groups representing the strategies often make it difficult to decipher what is really going on.

Additionally tactical action within each of the strategies sometimes seems to contradict that strategy's general direction. It further obscures the big picture.

As a result of these factors there is utter confusion within the think tanks and the administration resulting in a policy paralyze. A Gordian knot that requires a bold move.


The Executive Editor of Roll Call, Mort Kondracke, argues for winning dirty in Iraq:

The 80 percent alternative involves accepting rule by Shiites and Kurds, allowing them to violently suppress Sunni resistance and making sure that Shiites friendly to the United States emerge victorious.
...
Winning will be dirty because it will allow the Shiite-dominated Iraqi military and some Shiite militias to decimate the Sunni insurgency. There likely will be ethnic cleansing, atrocities against civilians and massive refugee flows.

This amoral option is not new. It was reported earlier as being discussed within the Cheney administration. But the timing of the Kondracke piece is interesting.

Kondracke is sourcing the idea he presents on "one member of Congress."

The central reasoning of the argumentation is in a tactical sense not plausible. But within a bigger context it is, while still conscienceless, a "liberating" bold move. It is also characteristic for a certain school of foreign policy.

Kondracke says the U.S. should side with the Shia and win the civil war in Iraq by extinguishing the Sunni opposition by any means including ethnic cleansing and, unsaid, genocide. The resulting Shia state will be U.S. friendly, manipulable and allow for basing rights and oil access.

Kondracke sees Maliki's Dawa party and al-Hakim's SCIRI as "Shiites friendly to the United States." He says they have lost the support of Iran and al-Sadr has emerged as the new Iranian puppet faction. The U.S. should therefore support Maliki and al-Hakim against the Sunnies and against al-Sadr.

But where are the facts supporting the assertion that Iran has changed sides within the Shia factions? Where is the proof that Iran has moved its support away from Dawa and SCIRI? Where is the proof that these are Shiites friendly to the U.S.?

I presume that in reality the opposite is happening. Badger seems to detect that the nationalistic-toned al-Sadr will (re-)unite with the Baathist and Sunni tribal resistance. Him doing so while having major Iranian support is very unlikely. 

Kondracke and/or his source are either dumb, or they have something bigger in mind.

The only way to have U.S. friendly Shia in Iraq, as they premise, is by having U.S. friendly Shia in Tehran too. A U.S. supported fight against the Sunnis would certainly create serious backslashes in the relations with Saudi Arabia. A plan to enter this fight therefor must have a bigger component to prevent or circumvent such backslashes.

There have been hints towards such a plan.

That general strategic plan is to completely change the balance of power in the region. It is to a align the U.S. (and Israel) with the Shia crescent as a balance against Sunni powers (and the Arab peace initiative for Palestine.)

This sets up Iran against Saudi Arabia with the U.S. allied, if possible, with both simultaneously holding the power to tip the scale to either side anytime it feels the need to do so. "Divide et impera" - divide and rule - writ large. If this is not possible, the plan leans to an alliance with Tehran.

Prof. Cutler attributes such a plan to "Right-Zionists":

The folks who brought us this war–and intentionally brought Shiites to power in Iraq–have done what they wanted to do in Iraq.  They have opened Pandora’s Box and are now prepared to watch as Iraqi Shiite power change the balance of power in the region.
...
Right Zionists are now and have always been sweet on the Shiites and hostile toward Sunni Arab regional domination.

Right Arabists are now and have always been sweet on Sunni Arab regional hegemony and totally hostile to Shiite power.

Within that framework the Right Zionists include the neo-cons and are personified in the administration by Cheney. The Right Arabists opposing them are Baker, Zinni, Scowcroft and other 'realists', represented in the cabinet by, well, by whom? Maybe Rice leans a bit to their side, but more likely she is undecided.

The Right Zionists plan sees a need to prop up the Shia in general to diminish the role of the Sunni states. This in a general political, cultural and military power sense and in the case of Saudi Arabia also its role as swing oil-producer.

With Iraq's and Iran's oil-producing capacity submitted to U.S. counsel and advise, the Wahhabi Saudi Arabia would lose its role as leading OPEC power, its economic power and its ideological projection capacity (i.e. financing of wahhabi madrasses.)

The plan re-institutes a U.S., Israel and Iran coalition like it openly existed during the Shah's regime. (The same coalition acted hidden during the Iran-Contra affair when Israel, on the behalf of the U.S., sold weapons to Iran. Note that very significant Iran-Contra players, Ledeen, Abrams etc., today are deeply involved in, if not the sources of, the Right Zionists plan.)

To fulfill this plan regime change in Iran is certainly preferable to these actors. But if an alliance with Iran can be achieved without regime change, such may not be an ultimate imperative.

Would a U.S. "gift" of a Shia Iraq cleansed of Sunnis be acceptable for Tehran? Could such a present be the start (or condition?) for a broader strategic cooperation agreement?

This time a U.S.-Israel-Iran coalition would be supplemented and strengthened by including a Shia Iraq.A really powerful entity geographically and economically squeezing the Arab nations in the Middle East.

The forming of this coalition does not necessarily require ethnic cleansing. If the Sunnis in Iraq knuckle down voluntarily, it would be fine with these partners. If not ...

Opposed to this scheme are the Right Arabists.

They fear that a broad Shia coalition is uncontrollable. An empowered Shia crescent could jump across the Gulf and spread its influence to Shia Bahrain (now under Sunni minority rule) and the Shia (oil-)regions of Saudi Arabia. Instead of a balance of power a Shia monopoly of power could arise.

A U.S. alliance with the Shia could also push the Saudis to align themselves with Russia, still the Right Arabists ultimate enemy, or even China.

They want to stick to the intimate longterm and very profitable Sunni Saudi Arab-U.S. coalition and they want to keep Iran contained. They will fight tooth and nail to prevent the Right Zionists scheme. To this end they see an urgent need to keep the Sunnis in Iraq as a significant part of the national government.

Within the above strategical framework the timing of Kondricke's despicable, amoral call for ethnic cleansing does make tactical sense.

Cheney is currently in Saudi Arabia. His task is to push the Saudis to press on the Sunni resistance in Iraq. They have to capitulate to the occupation and except their minority role. To this end carrots and sticks are presented. This would be the carrot for the Saudis: In Gulf, Cheney Pointedly Warns Iran

Aboard an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf 150 miles off Iran's coast, Vice President Cheney warned Tehran yesterday that the United States and its allies will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, close off vital sea lanes for oil supplies, or control the Middle East.

Again - within the above strategic framework this is a tactical, ultimately not serious, threat towards Iran. Its purpose is to vociferous assure the Saudis of a U.S. commitment to them, the carrot, while silently amplifying the putative insecurity they would have without their U.S. alliance.

The timely publishing of the Kondracke "80 percent" piece is the ultimate stick to show the Saudis the alternative at the other end of the possible relation spectrum.

Laura Rozen suspects this to be true:

Cheney may want to reinforce just such a ["80 percent"] message on his current trip to Saudi Arabia and the region, that if the Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians can't lean on their Sunni brethren in Iraq to make the Iraq gov't of national reconciliation a go, the alternative could be worse for them. Is Kondracke part of the effort to deliver that message, as it were?

Isn't Cheney as Vice-President also technically "one member of Congress?" Could he be Kondracke's source?

On the strategic level the conflict between Right Zionists and Right Arabists leads to two incompatible directions in the current U.S foreign policy. As this fight continues a powerful unifying U.S. foreign policy does not exist or can not unfold. In Cutler's words:

The US is in trouble in Iraq for a thousand reasons, but one of those reasons is that the US foreign policy establishment has been and continues to be working toward entirely different, mutually exclusive goals in Iraq.

It is not only Iraq, but the whole Middle East. There is a paralyze and utter confusion resulting from the two contradictory strategical positions.

The WaPo report on Cheney's current trip points to the additional confusion on the tactical level. It notes that at the same time as Cheney is verbally blasting Iran, Rice is preparing for negotiations with Tehran. Robin Wright writes:

As Cheney spoke in the Gulf -- after stops in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates -- the State Department was working to set up a meeting in the next two weeks between senior U.S. and Iranian officials in Baghdad, U.S. officials said Friday.
...
The divergent approaches toward Iran reflect the tensions within the administration, particularly between the State Department and the vice president's office about whether to engage with Iran and, if so, how far to go.
...
Some in the administration refer to the divergence as a good-cop, bad-cop strategy, while others say that it reflects a deep policy divide, with Cheney trying to stall or undermine diplomatic outreach efforts.
...
Analysts say U.S. strategy is instead simply contradictory. "On the one hand, U.S. policy involves a series of coercive steps -- U.N. resolutions, financial sanctions, arresting Iran's operatives in Iraq, trying to mobilize the Gulf states against Iran, giving the kind of speeches with symbolism done today -- that is quite comprehensive," said Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations. "On the other side, it's an offer to negotiate that is not well laid out. But the conciliatory effort is totally negated by the coercive steps, which is why it's not working."

Confusion abound.

By invading Iraq the Right Zionists achieved a change in the balance of power around the Persian Gulf. But without any influence in Teheran, they will have lost control over the powers they unleashed.

Now time is running out for the Right Zionists. If the U.S. is forced by its public opinion to give up on Iraq, they will lose the last leverage they have to achieve their overall goal of coercing Iran into an alliance. Regime change in Tehran may not be achievable within the remaining time-frame and/or the given resources. A grand deal though might be possible.

This grand deal is also the ultimate fear of the Right Arabists and their Saudi friends.

The split between the factions is very deep, and the confusion so persistent, that only some outer event or a bold move by one of the involved parties may cut the knot.

What move to what outcome is currently unpredictable.

A "gift" of a cleansed Iraq to Tehran is a possible bold move.

Posted by b on May 12, 2007 at 01:39 PM | Permalink

Comments

Crooks and Liars has some video and text about Ret. Army Colonel Wilkerson (and Powell's second, among other things) talking about Cheney as a perpetrator of high crimes.

After Downing Street has audio/text from an interview on the radio where Wilkerson responded to a question about impeachment with this:

Ashbrook framed the question in terms of alleged limitations of the U.S. political system, and Wilkerson replied: "Well I do think that that's a reality of our system. However, let me back up just a minute and say that I really do think that our founding fathers, Hamilton, Washington, Monroe, Madison, would all be astounded that over the course of our short history as a country, 200 plus years, we haven't used that little two to three lines in Article II of the Constitution more frequently, the impeachment clause. I do believe that they would have thought had they been asked by you or whomever at the time of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia 'Do you think this will be exercised?' they would have said 'Of course it will, every generation they'll have to throw some bastard out'. That's a form of accountability too. It's ultimate accountability."

After an interruption, Wilkerson continued: "The language in that article, the language in those two or three lines about impeachment is nice and precise – it's high crimes and misdemeanors. You compare Bill Clinton's peccadilloes for which he was impeached to George Bush's high crimes and misdemeanors or Dick Cheney's high crimes and misdemeanors, and I think they pale in significance."

apparently he's not in the zionist faction...

Posted by: fauxreal | May 12, 2007 3:00:25 PM | 1

Excellent overview b,

And while the administration decries the notion of deadlines, deadlines are what they themselves have laid out in the form of: Benchmarks
Surge assessment (come Sept)
Failing those, there's the undeniable date of January 2009.

The 80% solution, being the genesis gone wrong of the whole debacle, now remains the shortest distance toward a continued U.S. presence. But, also carries the highest risk factor, should the Iraqi government fall totally under Iran's spell. If this were to happen the U.S. would not only have lost Iraq, but would have also suffered a major defeat regionally in alienating its traditional (arabist) allies.

Interesting, that one day after Cheney leaves Baghdad, the leaders of SCIRI announce not only a change in their title, but more importantly, a shift in ideological orientation away from the Khamenei/Qom axis to the Sistani/Najaf axis. For if true, is not only a neocon dream come true, but primafacia evidence of the actual direction of policy and its neocon/rightzionist signature. Or is it David Wormser's signature?

Posted by: anna missed | May 12, 2007 3:16:56 PM | 2

I've been reading that Right-Arabist vs Right-Zionist thing for some time. Frankly, I just don't buy it for the following reasons;

1) There are no Arabists in the administration. At best there are some mid-level state dept. officials but they are no match for Bush-Cheney-DOD, et al. James Baker doesn't make U.S. policy.

2) Those RAers such as Baker are calling for reconciliation with Iran. This call has met with extreme vitriole from the neocon right AND!! Saudi Arabia and even the Sunni leaders in Iraq with ties to the insurgency.

3)Saudi Arabia is too vital to be treated cavalierly. Talk of breaking its oil monopoly was all over the airwaves 2003, but the result has in fact made Saudi wealthier and more influencial. No reason to think a destabelized Iran would have a different result. It would also add to Russia's wealth and power, presumably not a goal of RAers or RZers.

4) The other tack of reconciling with the mullahs isn't appetizing either. If the U.S. were to lift its objections, all the worlds oil companies would compete for Iran's business and there's no reason to believe Exxon-Mobile would be advantaged over Total or Petro China. The U.S. is not inclined to leave these matters to chance.

5) As for the "clearing Iraq as a gift" idea, that buys the U.S. no leverage. Iran is going to take it anyway. As for the Sunni insurgency, Iran has no wish to see it disappear. It's that insurgency that has prevented a U.S. attack on Iran.

6) You can ask the Israelis how well that Zionist-Shiite alliance is going for them.

Given the disaster unfolding in Iraq, there is a tendency to look for some hidden plan, some clever conspiracy that mere mortals cannot fathom. Most likely, the neocons and Bush Cheney truly figured the Iraq war would go smoothly and Iran (and Syria) would fall next. When it didn't their fall back position was just to muddle through and hope for a miracle.

Thanx,
Lysander

Posted by: Lysander | May 12, 2007 3:43:14 PM | 3

@anna missed -

thanks for the praise (much needed).

You are refering to this piece at IraqSlogger:

In what is, by far, the most important news item of the day, Az-Zaman and al-Hayat have reported that the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) has decided to change its name, break with the Iranian clerical establishment and replace the Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamena’i with Najaf-based Ali al-Sistani as their spiritual authority.
Alamet has pointed to that piece here.

I certainly have some doubts about that. This would be huge, unprecedented and the sources given are not impartial. Let's wait for some confirmation.

You say:

[this] also carries the highest risk factor, should the Iraqi government fall totally under Iran's spell. If this were to happen the U.S. would not only have lost Iraq, but would have also suffered a major defeat regionally in alienating its traditional (arabist) allies.
Yes, unless the U.S. has/makes a deal with the Shia Iran.

If the U.S. can permanently align itself with Iran, a Shia government in Iraq would be very welcome. The traditional allies, Sunni Saudi Arabia would be screwed. Who cares?

Their oil-capacity is near its peak anyway while Iraq's and Iran's is underdeveloped.

The strategic value of an alignment with Iran may outweight for some a continuation of the alliance with the Saudis. The Saudi Kingdom is a simple dictatorship based on an extrem religious view (wahhhabism).

Iran is a republic, a religious one but so what. At least they cast votes - much easier to argue that their rulers are friendly.

Posted by: b | May 12, 2007 3:58:01 PM | 4

@Lysander

1) There are no Arabists in the administration.
I'd count Gates as one even though he was incolved in Iran-Contra.

2) Those RAers such as Baker are calling for reconciliation with Iran. This call has met with extreme vitriole from the neocon right AND!! Saudi Arabia and even the Sunni leaders in Iraq with ties to the insurgency.
From the Saudi side it was Prince Bandar, a neo-con, who argued against it. He currently is metaphorically on ice.

3)Saudi Arabia is too vital to be treated cavalierly. Talk of breaking its oil monopoly was all over the airwaves 2003, but the result has in fact made Saudi wealthier and more influencial. No reason to think a destabelized Iran would have a different result. It would also add to Russia's wealth and power, presumably not a goal of RAers or RZers.

The argument I try to decipher above would stabilize Iran.

4) The other tack of reconciling with the mullahs isn't appetizing either. If the U.S. were to lift its objections, all the worlds oil companies would compete for Iran's business and there's no reason to believe Exxon-Mobile would be advantaged over Total or Petro China. The U.S. is not inclined to leave these matters to chance.

It would offer a deal - whatever you make think of him, Cheney does know how to make such.

5) As for the "clearing Iraq as a gift" idea, that buys the U.S. no leverage. Iran is going to take it anyway. As for the Sunni insurgency, Iran has no wish to see it disappear. It's that insurgency that has prevented a U.S. attack on Iran.

Carriers are leverage - as Cheney pointed out - that's why the U.S. builds such.

6) You can ask the Israelis how well that Zionist-Shiite alliance is going for them.

It DID go well fo them some time - why not trying again?

Given the disaster unfolding in Iraq, there is a tendency to look for some hidden plan, some clever conspiracy that mere mortals cannot fathom. Most likely, the neocons and Bush Cheney truly figured the Iraq war would go smoothly and Iran (and Syria) would fall next. When it didn't their fall back position was just to muddle through and hope for a miracle.

Posted by: b | May 12, 2007 4:12:20 PM | 5

Bernhardt, thanks for the response.

1) There are no Arabists in the administration.
"I'd count Gates as one even though he was incolved in Iran-Contra."

Fair enough, but gates is the least hawkish wrt to Iran and was even part of the ISG report along with Baker. Those two, Along with Brent Scowcroft, are referred to as Right Arabists but are the ones most in favor of engaging Iran. A position for which they are pilloried by by the pro Israel right, as well as by Saudi and even the Iraqi insurgents. Gates is hated by the Israeli right precisely BECAUSE he wants to engage Iran...or at least said he did before coming to the Pentagon.

Suffice it to say, there is simply no coalition of Right Arabists blocking Bush and Cheney from engaging Iran if that is what they wanted to do.

"It would offer a deal - whatever you make think of him, Cheney does know how to make such."

But the deal would have to be accepting Iran as a nuclear and regional super power, with control or great influence over the worlds oil patch. That's especially true if Saudi is no longer a U.S. ally. The U.S. would have to take it on faith that the mullahs wouldn't turn against them or would magically disappear to be replaced by a compliant government. Cheney isn't the trusting sort and even a new government in Iran would quickly realize Iran's new power and ask "what do we need the Americans for?" Bear in mind the U.S prefers dependent allies, not independent ones; hence Israel, the Kurds New Europe, moving its bases from Germany to Romania, French bashing, etc.

Bottom line, the US isn't making that deal, and Iran isn't likely to accept anything less.

"Carriers are leverage - as Cheney pointed out - that's why the U.S. builds such."

Indeed they are, but carriers can't occupy Iraq. And levergae depends on intimidation. If Iran thinks Cheney is bluffing, and he is, the leverage is gone.

No America's Iran plan envisions breaking it up or sowing ethnic tensions among Persians, Azeris, Kurds and Iranian Arabs, to the extent that is possible.

Don't mean to be argumentative. I'll leave you with the last word.

Some very good analysis can be found here;
http://mideastreality.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Lysander | May 12, 2007 5:25:23 PM | 6

Plan A: Saudis and Egytians fly planes into the twin towers. US/uk attack Iraq.

Outcome: Did not work.

Plan B: Embrace Iran.

Outcome: Cheney will bend over for the guys with the big drills.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | May 12, 2007 5:51:06 PM | 7

As for the "clearing Iraq as a gift" idea, that buys the U.S. no leverage. Iran is going to take it anyway.

is there any support for this claim? there's no automatic affinity between shia arabs and ethnically persian shia, so iranian influence is limited somewhat.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/04/14/opinion/edfuller.php>graham fuller has some interesting idfeas about this issue. his arab shia: forgotten muslims book is also very helpful.

Posted by: slothrop | May 12, 2007 6:49:11 PM | 8

I cannot imagine Cheney having leverage, credibility or bargaining-power of any kind in the Middle East. Nothing he could say--no threat, no sweetheart deal--could have any meaning over there. I mean, who gets blamed for Iraq, if not Cheney? A silly and irrelevant neophyte, a blundering fool, someone who shoots you in the face on a hunting party.

But couldn't he at least ask them what they want, those Saudis?

Yes, of course he could, and of course they could pretend to tell him the answer. But it won't check out. Anyone left at the Arab desk in the State Department must be feeling very, very ashamed--worrying, no doubt, about his or her own remaining shred of dignity and credibility.

Posted by: alabama | May 12, 2007 6:54:39 PM | 9

i mean, we hear all the time "iran is new hegemon" but where's the argument? does anyone know a good rep for this arg? I'd like to read it.

Posted by: slothrop | May 12, 2007 7:00:57 PM | 10

I cannot imagine Cheney having leverage, credibility or bargaining-power of any kind in the Middle East. Nothing he could say--no threat, no sweetheart deal--could have any meaning over there. I mean, who gets blamed for Iraq, if not Cheney? A silly and irrelevant neophyte, a blundering fool, someone who shoots you in the face on a hunting party.

But couldn't he at least ask them what they want, those Saudis?

Yes, of course he could, and of course they could pretend to tell him the answer. But it won't check out. Anyone left at the Arab desk in the State Department must be feeling very, very ashamed--worrying, no doubt, about his or her own remaining shred of dignity and credibility.

Posted by: alabama | May 12, 2007 7:03:49 PM | 11

The "preview" is behaving strangely.....

Posted by: alabama | May 12, 2007 7:05:32 PM | 12

i imgine what little is left of the arab desk are retranslating bernard lewis into danish

tho, it seems cheney makes these visits before something awful occurs

he is resembling more & more a carrion bird

Posted by: remembereringgiap | May 12, 2007 7:09:42 PM | 13

Cheneys visit, if the above mentioned SCIRI thing proves true, is a resounding success, bringing the good news to the Saudis -- that the empowered SCIRI will prove irresistible to the Iranian population, moving the Shiite spiritual epicenter back to traditional Najaf as the harbinger to internal regime change in Iran.
Just last week the U.S. provided helicopter gunship air support for, not the Iraqi army, but for the SCIRI Badr militia in a move against Sadr's Mehdi army. That kind of message, I would imagine, is not lost on anyone -- including Maliki and DAWA.

Posted by: anna missed | May 12, 2007 9:11:31 PM | 14

anna missed, do you see any sign that the Americans in Iraq can provide anything other than "helicopter gunship air support" for any of the local players? Suitcases of cash, perhaps?

To put it another way, we seem to have as much purchase in Iraq as we had in China back in 1946-47, with all our money, guns, experts and deals. But there was nothing to work with, except an incompetent Kuomintang!

Vastly different as the situations certainly are, they do have this one thing in common: no invader can penetrate and build political "stability" in a place of which it is massively ignorant, whose language it cannot speak, and whose terrain is utterly alien. We certainly couldn't do it in Viet Nam, where at least we had a few Franco/Christian elements to work with at the outset.

But when any States are gain'd in a Province disagreeing in language, manners, and orders, here are the difficulties, and here is there need of good fortune, and great industry to maintain them: and it would be one of the best and liveliest remedies, for the Conqueror to go in person and dwell there; this would make the possession hereof more secure and durable; as the Turk hath done in Greece, who among all the other courses taken by him to hold that State, had he not gone thither himself in person to dwell, it had never been possible for him to have kept it: for abiding there, he sees the disorders growing in their beginnings, and forthwith can remedy them; whereas being not there present, they are heard of when they are grown to some height, and then there is no help for them. Moreover, the Province is not pillaged by the officers thou sendest thither: the subjects are much satisfied of having recourse to the Prince near at hand, whereupon they have reason to love him, if they mean to be good; and intending to do otherwise, to fear him: and foreign Princes will be well aware how they invade that State; insomuch, that making his abode there, he can very hardly lose it. "The Prince", ch. 2 (in Dacre's translation, the only one on hand at the moment).

Machiavelli, watching America try to colonize Iraq, would urge the White House itself to move to Baghdad. That's where our President would live, and micromanage the place in its own mother tongue, scaring off "foreign Princes" in the process (meaning, I suppose, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and who knows who else besides?).

Nothing. Less. Will. Do.

Posted by: alabama | May 13, 2007 12:01:44 AM | 15

The Vague Hague the duped left and crimes against Iran.


via for a fully fleshing out of this post, also Chomsky...

Posted by: Ghost of Saddam Hussain | May 13, 2007 12:43:38 AM | 16

anna missed, do you see any sign that the Americans in Iraq can provide anything other than "helicopter gunship air support" for any of the local players? Suitcases of cash, perhaps?


Sure, (having abandoned the "stand up" of the Iraqi army) direct milita of choice support. You know, the dark side of the Petraeus counterinsurgency plan. And Cheney returns to Washington confident the he has "flipped" SCIRI -- when in fact, he has only marginalized their position by driving Sadr into the arms of the newly formed RJF nationalist movement. We'll see if the war moves back to Najaf -- and what Sistani does now, that the UIA has disintegrated by SCIR's overt alliance to the U.S. I think DEB's used to call it "main chancing" as in Duong Van Minh.

Posted by: anna missed | May 13, 2007 4:38:16 AM | 17

Iraqis resist U.S. pressure to enact oil law

"We have two clocks — the Baghdad clock and the Washington clock — and this is a perfect example," said Mahmoud Othman, a lawmaker from the semiautonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. "This has always been the case. Washington has been pushing the Iraqis to do things to fit their agenda."
...
The Western energy expert said Iraqi politicians estimate that a decision will take a few months or perhaps until the end of the year. "They say, 'Hang on, this is an important law, we're not just going to pass it,' " he said.
Which year?

Posted by: b | May 13, 2007 6:55:15 AM | 18

Iraq [puppet government] to bar press from blast scenes

under orders from Cheney, no doubt... I wonder if this plays a role in the recent two bridge bombings recently, haven't seen much in the news about it...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | May 13, 2007 7:51:45 AM | 19

ghost - what a stupid post that assumes that people don't know that "the Hague" is the city, den Hague.

People use shorthand all the time to indicate something that is understood by many. rather than say the international criminal court whose official seat is located in den Hague, which also happens to be the seat of govt for The Netherlands, also called, inappropriately, "Holland" to indicate the same geographic area. people say "the Hague" and people understand what they're talking about, in the same way that people say "Washington" and know they are talking about the power structure of the U.S.

LOL. what a bunch of nothing. thanks for sharing.

Posted by: fauxreal | May 13, 2007 10:51:59 AM | 20

This is most than apparent that the way the war is getting on in Iraq, has no end . This is because the saurces of the outsiders Saudi Arabia, Iran, Al Quaida will never stop to send more and more insurgents for the years to come.
If Saudis does not stop immediately to fund and support the Sunnis and ask them to accept the coalition Government, then something else has to done the soonest possible.It is not easy but it will have to include a big deal with Iran and Shia, but what about the Iran nuclear program? What aboute Hezbolleh? What about Syria?
A large deal has to done, and it may be done so as written in the article.

Posted by: Peter Kikareas | May 13, 2007 11:27:41 AM | 21

Nir Rosen has a long piece in the NYT Magazine on refugees from Iraq: The Flight From Iraq

Posted by: b | May 13, 2007 12:21:48 PM | 22

They are way too stupid to pull any of this off, no matter what their 'plan' is. I think the 'plan' is LET'S YOU AND HIM FIGHT and when the whole area goes up in flames and then calms down again, the bushies think they can go in and clean up. I think that is the 'plan' overall.

Posted by: | May 13, 2007 12:56:16 PM | 23

European Tribune - 'The worst is coming.' - The Flight from Iraq

Nir Rosen has a long, detailed and exceedingly bleak assessment of Iraq's refugee crisis -- and the way the "international community" and especially the United States are failing to cope with it -- in today's New York Times Magazine.

He writes that the outflow of refugees from Iraq has now reached up to 50,000 people a month:

At a meeting in mid-April in Geneva, held by António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, the numbers presented confirmed what had long been suspected: the collapse of Iraq had created a refugee crisis, and that crisis was threatening to precipitate the collapse of the region. The numbers dwarfed anything that the Middle East had seen since the dislocations brought on by the establishment of Israel in 1948. In Syria, there were estimated to be 1.2 million Iraqi refugees. There were another 750,000 in Jordan, 100,000 in Egypt, 54,000 in Iran, 40,000 in Lebanon and 10,000 in Turkey. The overall estimate for the number of Iraqis who had fled Iraq was put at two million by Guterres. The number of displaced Iraqis still inside Iraq's borders was given as 1.9 million. This would mean about 15 percent of Iraqis have left their homes.

There have been diaries on dKos, even by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, but they are fully ignored, getting only few comments.

Posted by: Fran | May 13, 2007 1:21:28 PM | 24

The diary is also on dKos and could use some support: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/5/13/111952/719

Posted by: Fran | May 13, 2007 1:24:41 PM | 25

Re the SCIRI name change and allegiance switch, here comes the retraction:
SCIRI Denies Split With Iran

The media bureau of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, formerly SCIRI, issued a statement late Saturday correcting what it described as “dubious remarks attributed to senior SCIRI officials” and “inaccurate analysis” made by media outlets, referring to reports that the party would distance itself from neighboring Iran. ... (snip)

Personally, I'm quite sure that SCIRI has moved into the US' pocket. But it is important that they aren't prepared to officialize it as things stand.

Posted by: Alamet | May 13, 2007 1:54:42 PM | 26

Also see Reidar Visser's perspective on the SCIRI conference:

SCIRI More Flexible on Federalism, but Fails to Resolve Khamenei Ambiguity

Posted by: Alamet | May 13, 2007 1:58:51 PM | 27

fran @25, i saw it, read it and am now printing the nir rosen to read in the park. in case you haven't noticed, meteor blades bumped it to the front page.

Posted by: conchita | May 13, 2007 3:17:18 PM | 28

Not really sure what SCIRI/SIIC is up too. One thing is for sure though, The U.S. is leaving Iraq sooner or later whereas Iran isn't going anywhere. SIIC isn't going to cut its ties with Iran and then watch the U.S. leave.

They U.S. isn't leaving tomorrow. I can see the Iraq occupation dragging till 2010 or 2012. But it will leave.

Posted by: Lysander | May 13, 2007 4:09:39 PM | 29

conchita@18 - yes I saw it. I am glad MB frontpaged it. There is a even greater disaster brewing - and the frustrating thing is not knowing what can be done to stop it. The Governments here in Europe are just as ignorant lately as the US.

Posted by: Fran | May 13, 2007 4:28:57 PM | 30

Does this strike anyone else as utter madness? Y'all talk like a bunch of spooks :)

I'm not as versed on these issues as you obviously are, (and I stand ready to be educated) but the fact is that Iran has managed to rid itself of the Shah, install a religious government, and acquire nuclear weapons despite US positions on those matters.
Why on earth would Bush/Cheney suppose they could move that bunch around like little pawns on their personal chessboard?

Is Bush really prepared to abandon all the Gulf States, and the Saudis, who are our traditional 'friendlies', and with whom his family has close ties?

I personally plump for the 'muddle through' theory, and further believe that when this can of worms is fully open, we'll see Iran on top, with Iraq as their puppet State, Islamist Revolution in Saudi Arabia, Israel completely annihilated, and the US in a complete state of bewilderment.

Posted by: bamaslama | May 14, 2007 4:11:31 AM | 31

Israel completely annihilated,

IF this were to come to pass, I doubt there'd be much of the neighbourhood left that didn't glow in the dark, rendering most other plans moot

Posted by: jcairo | May 14, 2007 5:34:28 AM | 32

@bamaslama -

- Iran has no nuclear weapon and there is no proof that it wants any.
- Saudi Arabia IS an Isalmist state - more so than any other

As for "friendlies" I am not so sure these are friendlies.

Ahmadinejad Leads Anti-U.S. Rally in UAE

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Iran's president led a raucous anti-American rally on Sunday in this tightly controlled U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf, a day after a low-key visit by Vice President Dick Cheney aimed at countering Tehran's influence in the region.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a cheering crowd that America was to blame for creating instability and robbing the region of its wealth.

``We are telling you to leave the region. This is for your benefit and the benefit of your nation,'' Ahmadinejad shouted to the crowd of thousands at a soccer stadium. ``The nations of the region can no longer take you forcing yourself on them. The nations of the region know better how to create peace and security.''
...
The Iranian president received a red-carpet welcome at Abu Dhabi International Airport, where he was greeted by Emirates President Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Dubai leader Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the country's prime minister.

During his two-day visit, Ahmadinejad is to meet with government leaders in Abu Dhabi as well as Dubai, one of the world's fastest-growing cities and home to most of the 500,000-strong Iranian expatriate community.


Posted by: b | May 14, 2007 5:49:23 AM | 33

Stryker Losses in Iraq Raise Questions

Since the Strykers went into action in violent Diyala province north of Baghdad two months ago, losses of the vehicles have been rising steadily, U.S. officials said.

A single infantry company in Diyala lost five Strykers this month in less than a week, according to soldiers familiar with the losses, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to release the information. The overall number of Strykers lost recently is classified.

Much bigger attrition than is usually told. Over 1/3 of the companies capacity in just one week ...

Posted by: b | May 14, 2007 6:19:33 AM | 34

Strykers are money makers. looks like the US pays around 2.8 million for one of them. one week of losses at one company equals 14 million in sales at another

Posted by: dan of steele | May 14, 2007 7:53:01 AM | 35

B on the factions and the confusion in the US is great, in the msm one can read one thing and its opposite within a few hours.

Certainly, most of these policy wonks, commentators, ignorant think tankers and present and ex-Gvmt. members or spokespersons are more or less sincere, and applying their minds to whatever they see as the ‘situation.’ This is because the word F*-up, or more respectably, Failure, is now part of the common consciousness. Until fairly recently, it was not, or only so in some quarters, so it was possible to continue along the guide lines set by that-or-that script, party, group, camp, interest - trusting in BS, or business, as usual.

Iraq is now the epitome of a failed state. Accomplishing anything at all in this environment seems illusory, except, of course, scorched earth. (Nigeria seems like a good holiday/business venues in comparison.)

The central problem is that the strategists continue to twiddle about with supporting or influencing or coercing or repressing and decimating whatever ethnic groups (Shia, Sunni..) or manipulating or allying with various influences, countries (Iran-Isr-US coalition, for ex.) and changing their minds all the time..., because of the contradictory stipulations B points to.

It is too late, that kind of strategic play - which is what my young relative does on web computer games with goblins and wizards and sexy Alejandras or Wicca111s - will no longer create order, assuming that that is an aim, which it must be, as domination in itself implies some kind of stable order, some solid semi-permanent state of affairs which one understands, can direct, control, influence efficiently, because one creates the frame, sets the boundaries, the limits, the possible actions. That won’t be forthcoming.

Bold moves, indeed. But the US won’t make them.

Posted by: Noirette | May 14, 2007 11:25:57 AM | 36

@b..By 'Islamist Revolution' I meant overthrow of the House of Saud in favor of something more along the lines of Iran. I believe there have been rumblings in that direction from time to time. One reason given is Saud's close ties with US.

Dubai, the "tightly controlled" US ally is, I believe, sending us an indirect message when it allows such a rally to coincide with Cheney's visit.

No Nukes? They told told the SAME LIE TWICE? dang...well, I must be a bigger fool than I thought, then.

"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a cheering crowd that America was to blame for creating instability and robbing the region of its wealth."
Well, it's TRUE, isn't it?

"The nations of the region know better how to create peace and security.'' "
Sure they do, and it isn't by handing these folks a ballot..
Notice he didn't say "peace and prosperity".

"The U.S. is leaving Iraq sooner or later whereas Iran isn't going anywhere. SIIC isn't going to cut its ties with Iran and then watch the U.S. leave."

The next President will be elected in 2008. I feel reasonably certain that he or she will be a Democrat with a mandate to get out of Iraq yesterday. Unless the Republicans are prepared to perpetrate a coup (and I'm not saying they aren't, but can they assassinate ALL 8 OF THEM?) 2010-12 would be a pretty accurate estimate, imo.

Iranian school children recite "Maag baarg Amrika"--"Death To America" every morning in place of the Pledge of Alleigance. Perhaps I'm an idiot, but I give our policies over there about the same chance as a bunch of Sunnis would have trying to occupy Alabama.
"Hearts and minds.." the policy-makers always discount that factor too much, I think.

All this brain-power, all these billions, all this blood. If a tenth as much effort had been directed toward coming up with outside sources of renewable energy, we wouldn't even need this discussion. For me, that's the saddest thing of all. Now is the time: if we had reduced our oil consumption by that much 20 years ago, it would have had disastrous consequences for all the oil nations. With China now standing ready to take up the slack though..

"IF this were to come to pass, I doubt there'd be much of the neighbourhood left that didn't glow in the dark, rendering most other plans moot" touche! lol

well there's always MAD. If we all don't do something about CO2 emissions in the very near future, ALL our little plans will be moot--these among them.

I sure hope everybody watched "An Inconvenient Truth". These guys already live in a desert..Perhaps we will too, when it all comes to pass :(

Posted by: bamaslama | May 14, 2007 11:52:39 AM | 37

Nir Rosen’s piece is acceptable as a mainstream puff. Love those little emotional anecdotes.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/13/magazine/13refugees-t.html?_r=2&oref=slogin&ref=magazine&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin>link

Those who have fled are closer to 3 million than 2, but lets not quarrel about numbers. (His are also dodgy. Everyone’s are.) This has been going on since 2003, but as he says, the last two years have seen more movement, if one can qualify human desperation as ‘movement.’

The main point, which he does not elaborate on, is that the UNHCR has done nothing. Nor have any Western countries.

In the last few year the US has accepted less than 1 000 Iraqi refugees (that might not be the number he quotes exactly, I actually didn’t read the whole thing; but compare millions! to a thousand...)

France has accepted ‘none’ - it does not accept refugees ‘at all’. Similiar problems in other countries - it has to be written, attested to and ‘proved’ that an illegal war situation, oppression, sectarian killing, torture, exists; that ppl, eg. couples with small children, are really at risk of their lives thru no fault of their own. Western Gvmts. cannot take that step, as it means facing up to the US, and stating on paper that Iraq is an occupied country, rather than a confused wild place now thankfully under the benevolent tutelage of the stellar USA.

Iraqi refugees are not refugees, to put it simply, because it is not recognized by the International Community (care in part of K. Annan) that Iraq is a country under murderous occupation. They do not have ‘legal’ refugee status. They have no possibility, no oppo’, to go to an embassy, or any other organism, and claim their lives are under threat.

- A few personal exceptions, such as raped, mutilated, tortured women, wrecks in wheel chairs with burnt faces, can be made under the humanitarian blanket. And be reported in the Press...

Pragmatically, as long as Syria, Jordan, and others, can absorb the influx (no matter what the consequences for them or internationally) nothing is said, everyone pretends these people are ‘traveling’ for their own cranky motives or because they are unwanted due to quirks that don’t have any validity in International law. (Ex. artist who leaves as he can’t paint naked women, it is a cultural thing, a matter of choice!)

The UNHCR finally ponied up and made an effort because the receiving countries are getting twitchy and noisy. We are talking close to millions! here. They are feeling the strain. Very little donations were given /promised (for what?) - everyone knows the Iraqis are doomed, no one can accept them, except the border countries who can claim fate..

Long story short - what almost all Gvmts. have done is to accord ‘temporary’ resident status - that includes Syria and Jordan - except under some strict financial conditions - accepting rich ppl as permanent residents. (At the very least, proof of a bank account of 100 thousand US.) Most EU countries have implemented a ‘no send back policy’ - no Iraqi can be sent back to Iraq (that would be too shaming), but he, or she, cannot get resident status. The few, very few, who actually managed to get in, mostly thru family connections and bribery, are in a limbo.


Posted by: Noirette | May 14, 2007 1:02:36 PM | 38

"If the U.S. can permanently align itself with Iran, a Shia government in Iraq would be very welcome. The traditional allies, Sunni Saudi Arabia would be screwed. Who cares? Their oil-capacity is near its peak anyway while Iraq's and Iran's is underdeveloped. The strategic value of an alignment with Iran may outweigh for some a continuation of the alliance with the Saudis."

And don't forget 911911911.

And don't forget that what oil Saudi still has is actually underneath Shi'ites and 'in play' with a Iran/Iraq consolidation.

Clearly Iran/Persia/Shia now have the mojo in the region, courtesy of USUK occupation. Would the USUK 'flip-flop'? Bush would whore his mother and sell his daughters to be considered a "success" by history.

What would Iranq want? The same deal the Saudi royals cut 30 years ago. A treaty guaranteeing no interference from outside meddling (EU, China, Russia), support for the existing regime, access to nuclear fuel & technology (eg. India), unlimited USD credit for armaments. Plus US withdrawal - handing over all armaments and bases to Iranq. Maybe a carrier?

For that Iranq guarantees first right of exploration, development and purchase to USUK oil corps and agrees to price such in US dollars; leave the funds in USUK deposits; purchase armaments, technology, infrastructure from US corps (Halliburton, Bechtel) with the interest.

And I suppose let Israel have the rest of Palestine, calling off Hamas and Hezbollah.

After all, Iran could be 'sold' as good guys just as easily as they are painted as the 'great satan'. Isn't the head of the English government also the head of the church?

In retrospect the absence of this deal in Baker's report speaks volumes.

Posted by: PeeDee | May 14, 2007 5:27:34 PM | 39

Badger's latest post covers an op-ed in Al-Hayat in which the author reports Arab authorities are having forebodings about a US-Iran deal exactly as described here...

Posted by: Alamet | May 14, 2007 8:20:58 PM | 40

Fauxreal, Shut Your Fucking Pie Hole

Posted by: Ghost of Saddam Hussein | May 14, 2007 8:33:43 PM | 41

thanks so much. great argument, again.

wish I were so erudite...okay, that's a lie. I didn't even bother to read the whole thing, the argument was so compelling.

reminds me of the character De Niro played in the film version of Tobias Wolff's memoir, A Boy's Life, about an asshole stepfather who uses just the same term to bully the kid of the woman he fucks and then beats up.

De Niro's character knows the kid sees what a piece of shit he is, and he just can't stand it and so he resorts to "shut your pie hole," or, in blog parlance, shut your fucking pie hole.

so thanks again. this will be the last time I'm going to waste my time responding this garbage, tho I know it must hurt to know you can't just tell people to obey your au-tho-ree-tay.

Posted by: fauxreal | May 15, 2007 1:23:18 AM | 42

Thanks Alamet@40

- very interesting.

So Al-Hayat says my crack-pot idea of a U.S. sellout to Iran seems not too far out.

What is the Arab's best chance now to prevent such a deal?

Make the deal with Iran themselves.

Ahmadinejad is in Dubai and the UAE did let him run a rally against the U.S. there.

He had some ideas what the area is to do, like kick out the U.S. out of the Middle East and make a defense pact beween all the countries there.

Was that his official offer to the Arabs? Not sure, but they will have listened carefully.

Posted by: b | May 15, 2007 1:43:31 AM | 43

Am I missing something here? Faux 20 and 42? A bit of an over-reaction?

It seems legitimate to argue that the ICTY was set up to vilify the Yugoslavian government and legitimize the destruction of Yugoslavia, even NATO's participation in that destruction; and that the ICTY has no connection to what "The Hague" represents in most people's minds, i.e. the legitimacy of the ICC and the ICY.

Not saying there is agreement with the argument, but there have been less well documented arguments here and your first reaction seemed odd to me.

Posted by: ww | May 15, 2007 2:39:14 AM | 44

More support for b's thesis of "gifting Iran" over at http://turcopolier.typepad.com/>Pat Lang's blog, with confidant Richard Sale checking in. His story of Chalabi having always been an Iranian agent with the task of first trying to draw the U.S. into Iraq from Kurdistan, and second after the invasion, to make sure the Iraqi Army was disbanded and a program of de-Baathification incorporated into policy. Both items especially important with regards to future threats on Iran -- and both items mission accomplished! Seeing that even at this late date Chalabi is still in charge of de-Baathification (and Khalilzad is gone) there must be something to it.

Posted by: anna missed | May 15, 2007 3:40:27 AM | 45

Coincidence?

Iran Lawmakers Seek U.S. Friendship

Iranian deputies were gathering signatures to try and form an Iranian-U.S. friendship committee in parliament to hold contacts with the U.S. Congress, legislators involved in the effort said Tuesday.

It was the first effort organized by parliament to find a way to bridge nearly three decades of estrangement between the U.S. and Iran. It comes days after the governments of the two countries agreed to hold direct talks on one of the main issues dividing them -- the conflict in Iraq.

Darioush Ghanbari, one of at least 10 deputies who has signed the document calling for the establishment of the committee, said Iranian parliamentarians were seeking to reduce tensions with America and "explain Iran's realities to the U.S. Congress."

The document had signatures from both conservatives and reformists and more signatures from the 290-member legislature were expected by the end of the day, Ghanbari said.
...
Proponents of the friendship committee said it could help avert anti-Iranian legislation by the U.S. Congress.

"If (Iranian) government officials are reconciling with Americans, why can't the Iranian nation reconcile with the American people?" said Jalal Hosseini, another Iranian reformist lawmaker who signed the petition.

Posted by: b | May 15, 2007 8:07:53 AM | 46

ww- my reaction to the first post stemmed from the way it was linked here as "vague hague" and then the remarks about stupidity because people refer to the ICC as The Hague.

that's what I referred to in my post...the hague reference and the insult. I didn't refer to anything else in the other post but that initial "explanation."

the second post, which was telling me to stfu, was one I didn't read beyond that point, because why should I? why should I read something that like from someone I don't know, don't care if I know, blah, blah, blah.

I responded to the highlighted link here to me in kind.

I find it strange that you don't think it's rather rude of this ghost person and whoever wrote the second blog post...that's no over-reaction?

whatever. I'm very busy now, don't have time for such blog crap and don't need it. so it's done for me. I will dutifully make sure I do not read anything else posted to my name by ghost or whoever when I come back around so that I do not reply.

I have not even so much as walked on hot coals, much less flamed, for quite sometime. I suppose I should have just ignored the post like the rest of you did, but if preaching to the choir is your thing, then that post was the way to do it, for me. To make a convincing argument, it helps if you don't start out by insulting your audience. And, if people here who happen to be Americans and/or liberal are not the audience, then why post it here?

Snap het? of iets dergelijks? Nu kan ik niet noch hier bleiven. tot straks.

Posted by: fauxreal | May 15, 2007 6:29:44 PM | 47

@fauxreal - the guy/gal had nothing to say, plugged an unrelated badly written post and when s/he got a response saying so, s/he used that to say nothing relevant again.

You were right to answer like you did.

Posted by: b | May 16, 2007 12:51:02 AM | 48

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