Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's Tough to Unsurrender

I do worry a bit about how the Iraqi government treats the Sons of Iraq groups. Our military is watching tensions closely:

Military officials say their fear is that the arrests, while relatively few so far, have created a public perception that the government is cracking down on the groups, which could undermine the Awakening program, widely credited with helping to end the insurgency in much of Iraq.

“We don’t think it’s a systemic problem,” said Col. Jeffrey Kulmayer, chief of reconciliation and engagement for the American forces in Iraq, and the military’s top liaison with the Sons of Iraq, as it calls the Awakening Councils. “But with each individual arrest the perception is there that it’s an assault on the entire program.” In addition to the 15 Awakening leaders arrested in recent weeks, the military is tracking the cases of five others who are the subjects of arrest warrants.

While a decision by a significant number of Sunni Arabs to start up the war again would cause a spike in casualties, it would ultimately fail. The Sunni Arab Sons of Iraq are now known--down to their biometric data--to authorities. In the two years since the Sunni Arabs largely laid down their arms, the Iraqi government has gotten stronger. And the Sunni Arabs no longer have a significant Sadrist movement or large al Qaeda presence to stretch the Iraqi forces out.

In short, a renewed war would be a fast track to the expulsion of the Sunni Arabs from central Iraq at the very least.

So while we certainly don't want to look away while such a conflict develops, it is just as important to arrest truly guilty Sunni Arabs in the Sons of Iraq program who deep down still want to stage a coup to run Iraq again.

Remember, there is a very basic reason the Sunni Arabs gave up two years ago--they lost the war.