[Marxism] Behind the drop in violence in Iraq
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.
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.
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