Saturday, April 21, 2007

Our Strategy in Concrete Terms

I've written that our current strategy, which is based on the new phase of the war we entered after the Samarra bombing and which we failed to adapt to in 2006 despite several efforts, is to make the Sunni Arabs feel secure enough to surrender.

The Sunni Arabs know they lost the war, yet Iranian-instigated Shia death squads and al Qaeda terrorists have made many of the Sunni Arabs too afraid to surrender. So in this new phase of the war we are trying to provide the needed security so the political process can pry the Sunni Arabs away from the enemy column.

This effort in Baghdad is an example of this concept in action:

U.S. soldiers are building a three-mile wall to protect a Sunni Arab enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods in a Baghdad area "trapped in a spiral of sectarian violence and retaliation," the military said.

Protect these civilians from the al Qaeda terrorists who enforce Sunni help and from the Shia death squads that make surrender no option at all, and we can end the futile Sunni Arab-centered resistance to the Iraqi government.

Not that there won't be Sunni jihadis and some hard core Baathists who will continue to fight, but the enemy will have far fewer supporters in the Sunni Arab community for recruits, money, refuge, and information. And so when you read about Sunnis complaining about the barrier, remember that those quoted could very well be Baathists who really do fear the impact of the barrier.

Or they could just be stupid. That seems to be a difficult habit to shake off.

UPDATE: Maliki has ordered the wall stopped:

In his first public comments on the issue, al-Maliki said Sunday that he had ordered the construction to stop.

"I oppose the building of the wall and its construction will stop," al-Maliki said during a joint news conference with the secretary-general of the Arab League. "There are other methods to protect neighborhoods, but I should point out that the goal was not to separate, but to protect."

At this point I cannot see a reason to excuse this decision. There may well be good reasons for Maliki to halt the wall but I cannot fathom them. I hope this is not the beginning of a trend in interfering with military matters and that this halt is lifted quickly.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Or is it halted? We said we'd respect the Prime Minister's wishes but another official seems to indicate that the wall will go on:

However, confusion persisted about whether the plan would continue in some form: The chief Iraqi military spokesman said Monday the prime minister was responding to exaggerated reports about the barrier.

"We will continue to construct the security barriers in the Azamiyah neighborhood. This is a technical issue," Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said. "Setting up barriers is one thing and building barriers is another. These are moveable barriers than can be removed."

It makes so little sense to halt this project that I hope this is a misunderstanding.