Post-9-11 events and analyses
Monday, August 29, 2005
The Observer: Iraq takes a step closer to civil war: "it appears it was not the Shias, as Bush feared, but the Sunnis who have torpedoed consensus on the constitution, first forcing a number of concessions from the Shias, then deciding to walk out on the whole process. 'The Sunnis made the tactical decision to negotiate for as much as they could get out of the document and then walk out to protect their own positions within their community,' said one diplomat. 'It is a dangerous tactic. It will take a lot of patching up.'..
While Bush could pick up the phone to try to cajole or mollify Hakim as a representative of Shia desires, on the Sunni side, despite more than two years of effort, there is no one of a similar stature and influence to call. ..
pessimism has been reflected in the new and chilling conversation that has repeatedly taken place among government and intelligence officials in the past few weeks on both sides of the Atlantic - how do you know when you are on the brink of civil war? And which, out of the available models, Iraq might follow if it follows down that path. It is not Vietnam that officials are looking to for their model of a worst-case scenario in Iraq, but to the fratricide of Lebanon's civil war." 11:55:15 PM
Juan Cole on success and frustration in Iraq: "Sullivan says that given US and British forces on the ground, the "insurgency" "cannot win." The problem is that the "insurgency" doesn't have to win in order to succeed. All it has to do is spoil everyone else's successes. By sabotaging the oil pipelines and the electricity grid that supports them, the guerrillas have reduced Iraqi government revenue by a third to a half of what it otherwise would be. They can go on doing that a very long time. They have put the lives of every senior member of the new government in danger, and have managed to assassinate a whole roster of high-ranking officials, even two members of the new parliament and two members of the constitution drafting committee.
They have kept the new government, and even the US military, from truly controlling the major Sunni Arab cities, and have even made mixed cities such as Baqubah big security problems. They have increasingly succeeded in provoking deep hatred between Sunni and Shiite Arabs, contributing to a low-intensity, uncoventional war between the two that seemed unlikely as recently as a year ago. These tactics are proving successful and can be maintained for a very long time." The article also makes some predictions for 2006.
In a similar vein from Cole's March 05 op-ed, U.S. Caught in the Crossfire: "For all of these reasons, the United States will increasingly find its hands tied in Iraq. Caught between a popularly elected government dominated by fundamentalist Shiites and a determined guerrilla movement led by Arab nationalists and radical Sunnis, the United States is left without a safe and secure escape hatch." 11:41:53 PM