Saturday, December 28, 2013

For Lack of a SOFA

The Iraqis must feel horribly discriminated against. Assad gets to kill (with the death toll in under three years already at the entire Iraq War total) with only a couple methods ruled out (chemical weapons and barrel bombs). Iraq isn't even supposed to arrest people who plot against the government with terrorists.

This seems minor league, all things considered:

Iraqi security forces arrested a prominent Sunni Muslim lawmaker and supporter of anti-government protests in a raid on his home in the western province of Anbar, sparking clashes in which at least five people were killed, police sources said.

The violent arrest of Ahmed al-Alwani is likely to inflame tensions in Sunni-dominated Anbar, where protesters have been demonstrating against what they see as marginalization of their sect by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government.

The problem is, a lot of Sunni Arabs are plotting with terrorists against the government. The Sunni Arabs still resent losing power when their patron, Saddam, was chased from office.

And other Sunni Arabs who don't want to work with jihadis are too afraid of the jihadis not to at least look away given that the Shia-dominated government isn't terribly helpful.

The Iraqi government really hasn't given the Sunni Arabs enough reason to actively support the Iraqi government against those Sunni Arabs who want to return to power--through Islamism or other means.

And, as Strategypage writes, it was not supposed to be this way:

Terrorist related deaths for the year so far are going to be nearly 8,000 and the government is under a lot of popular pressure to stop the mass murder. While 10-20 percent of these deaths are the result of gangsters, not Islamic terrorists, it does not diminish the fact that the main threat to the country is religious and politically motivated terrorism. ...

Terrorist deaths are still much lower than they were during the peak years of the post 2003 violence, but have doubled since 2011. Back then terrorist deaths went from 29,000 in 2006 to 10,000 in 2007 and kept falling until 2011 (when there were 4,100 deaths). ...

The Sunni terrorists (mostly the local al Qaeda and Sunni nationalists who are not eager to have a religious dictatorship that al Qaeda wants) continue to use all the terrorist violence to trigger a civil war between Shia and Sunni. This would be disastrous for the greatly outnumbered (4-1) Sunnis but most Sunnis are still bitter over the loss of power and income that came with the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein. The 2007 peace deal, arranged by the United States, brought with it a sharp drop in terrorism and a halt to the Shia death squads that were randomly killing Sunnis. But after the Americans left in 2010 the Shia dominated government reneged on the terms of that deal, mainly by not supplying the promised jobs and share of the oil income. Sunnis also accused the Shia government of not supporting them in the north where Kurds were trying to reclaim property Saddam had stolen in the 1980s and given to poor Sunnis from the south. Then came accusations that some Sunni politicians (including several senior elected officials) were supporting Sunni terrorists. Some of these accusations appear to be true, but for most Sunnis it was the last straw and the Sunni terrorists found themselves with more fans and recruits. While many Sunni leaders oppose the terrorism, speaking out can get you killed by Sunnis who consider any peace proposals treason against the Sunni community. Now the Sunni uprising in Syria has further encouraged the Sunni terrorists, despite the lack of any real progress in Iraq and the growing risk of a devastating Shia backlash.

Do read the rest. Iraq had good hopes for a bright future in 2011. Now? I wouldn't say that Iraq can't muddle through on their own. But the odds are far lower. And we had it within our power to increase Iraq's odds--and our military presence in Iraq would have made it impossible for Iran to use Iraq as a major resupply route for Assad, remember.

Our president wouldn't press for a status of forces agreement to keep US troops in Iraq, where our presence could keep factions acting within democratic boundaries of politics. Our presence could have helped foster rule of law to make sure resources could be spread around rather than lost in corruption. Then maybe oil wealth could have kept Sunnis content in Anbar even as Kurds were allowed to reclaim land lost to Saddam era ethnic cleansing in the north.

But no, President Obama had to "responsibly end" "Bush's" war--never mind the declaration of war that made it America's war to win or lose--ss if that was in his power to do. The war goes on.

And in refusing to take decisive action (aiding rebels--not direct military intervention) against Assad--a long time enemy suddenly vulnerable in spring 2011--we not only saw violence spiral out of control there, but saw it blow back into Iraq, rekindling jihadi groups that we beat down in the surge offensive of 2007 and putting a weak Iraq (without our presence) under more pressure from Iran to help Assad, splintering Iraq even further.

Indeed, in flirting with Assad as a partner in chemical weapons disarmament and battling al Qaeda even as he slaughters and starves his Sunni majority opposition, haven't we taught Iraq that being brutal is acceptable to us as long as it works? How long will Iraq keep up their stupid but still restrained policies against their Sunni minority?

And let's not forget that with this idiotic interim nuclear agreement we strengthened Iran who, inter alia (see? I can use terms more refined than "freaking" on occasion), stands behind Assad and seeks to control Iraq.

The really scary thing is that I think our leadership believes they are brilliant in managing all of this, and that if only black swan events like poorly made Internet videos didn't sidetrack their plans out of freaking nowhere, it would be all peace and prosperity now.