[Marxism] Behind the drop in violence in Iraq

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Nov 28 08:10:29 MST 2007

Q: So is the problem in Iraq one of refining counterinsurgency tactics?

A: The Sunni Arab leadership has suspended its rebellion against the 
U.S. military occupation because the White House and its generals in 
Baghdad have given Sunnis independence from the hated Shiite-dominated 
government and money–lots of money. When U.S. casualties were rising 
last spring, General David Petraeus issued directives to coalition 
forces to extend the model of Anbar province by offering cash payments 
to more and more Sunni Arab leaders outside of that region. One army 
officer on his second tour summed up the change this way: “Since we 
refuse to leave and are much more powerful than al Qaeda, they are 
siding with us. They call this the ‘great awakening’.” The tactic of 
paying your enemy not to fight is not a new one, but it has limitations. 
If the plan is to leave Iraq, it’s a good solution. If the plan is to 
stay in perpetuity, and that seems to be the case with the Bush 
Administration, history says it’s dangerous. Eventually, the underlying 
hatred for the foreign presence overwhelms greed.

full: http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/11/hbc-90001783


 From The Sunday Times
November 25, 2007
American-backed killer militias strut across Iraq
Hala Jaber, Baghdad

IT WAS 9.30am when three men entered Haidar Musa’s sweet-shop and shot 
him repeatedly in the head as his eight-year-old daughter Zainab 
crouched in terror behind the counter.

By midday his stricken wife Kahiriya had packed Zainab and four other 
children into a car with a few possessions and fled their home town of 
Abu Ghraib for a life of penury in Baghdad, 20 miles to the east.

Eighteen months later, the six of them are living in a room that 
measures 12ft by 12ft, with a concrete floor. Its contents include a 
cooking pot, a sewing machine and thin sponge mattresses because this is 
their kitchen, sitting room and bedroom.

Asked when she intended to leave this squalor and return to the 
comfortable family home, Kahiriya Musa, 30, is emphatic. “Never,” she 
declares. “They will kill me if I return.”

While one of her husband’s killers has been arrested, she says, the 
other two have joined the Baghdad Brigade, a Sunni militia funded by the 
American forces which now holds sway in her old neighbourhood.

Members of the Baghdad Brigade receive $300 a man each month from the 
Americans, who also provide vehicles, uniforms and flak jackets. In 
return the brigade keeps out Al-Qaeda, dismantles roadside bombs and 
patrols the area, a task performed with considerable swagger by many of 
its 4,000 recruits.

The US military is delighted with the results achieved by the brigade in 
Abu Ghraib and by similar groups in other former “hot spots” of 
sectarian conflict that have seen a sharp decline in violence.

For Shi’ites such as Kahiriya Musa, however, a Sunni militia represents 
another potential source of terror in a country where millions have been 
traumatised by ethnic cleansing.

A 50% cut in car and roadside bombs, shootings and rocket and mortar 
attacks since June has brought hope that some of the 5m Iraqis driven 
from home may soon be able to go back. Yet many – Kahiriya Musa among 
them – are too frightened of the new militias and the ethnic cleansers 
in their ranks to risk moving.

Officials in the Shi’ite-led government also fear the burgeoning of 
fresh forces beyond its control. The question being asked in government 
circles is: have the Americans achieved a short-term gain in security at 
a cost of long-term pain that may be inflicted by the Sunni militias, 
which are already threatening to go to war against their Shi’ite 

The western province of Anbar first witnessed the phenomenon known as 
“the awakening” – the turning of Sunni tribes against the largely 
foreign fighters of Al-Qaeda in Iraq.

For General David Petraeus, the American commander, the awakening has 
proved a powerful force with which to increase the impact of his surge 
of 30,000 US troops earlier this year.

By allying the US forces with Sunnis opposed to Al-Qaeda, the general 
has engineered victories over the brutal foreign fighters that seemed 
almost unimaginable 12 months ago.

US-backed Sunni militias have spread eastwards from Anbar across 
Baghdad. They already number 77,000, known collectively as “concerned 
local citizens”. This is more than the Shi’ite Mahdi Army and nearly 
half the number in the Iraqi army.

full: http://timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article2937104.ece

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