• Groundhog Day in Iraq? Nope, Worse

    June 23, 2017

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Iran, Iraq

    petraeus-crocker-sons-of-iraq


    It’s a helluva question: “Tell me how this ends.”

    It was a good question in 2003 when then Major General David Petraeus asked it as the United States invaded Iraq, an ironic one in 2011 when the US withdrew, worth revisiting in 2014 when the US reinvaded Iraq, and again in 2017 as Islamic State appears to be on its way out. Problem is we still don’t have a good answer. It could be Groundhog Day all over again in Iraq, or it could be worse.



    Groundhog Day

    The Groundhog Day argument, that little has changed from 2003 until now, is quite persuasive. Just look at the headlines. A massive Ramadan car bomb exploded not just in Baghdad, but in Karada, its wealthiest neighborhood, during a holiday period of heightened security, and all just outside the Green Zone were the American Embassy remains hunkered down like a medieval castle. Islamic State, like al Qaeda before it, can penetrate the heart of the capital city, even after the fall of their home base in Fallujah (2004, 2016.) Meanwhile, Mosul is under siege (2004, 2017.) Iranian forces are on the ground supporting the Baghdad central government. The Kurds seek their own state. American troops are deep in the fighting and taking casualties. The Iraqi Prime Minister seems in control at best only of the Shia areas of his country. Groundhog Day.

    But maybe this time around, in what some call Iraq War 3.0, we do know how it ends.


    Not Groundhog Day

    It seems unlikely anyone will be able to get the toothpaste of Kurdish independence back into the tube. A functional confederacy since soon after the American invasion of 2003, Kurdish national forces have linked with Kurdish militias, albeit with American help, across the width of northern Iraq, from the Iranian border in the east into Turkey and Syria in the west. This is in large part the land mass traditionally thought of as Kurdistan.

    The Trump administration is for the first time overtly arming Kurdish militias in Syria (some of whom the Turks consider terrorists) to fight Islamic State, without much plan in mind about how to de-arm them when they turn towards the Turks who hold parts of their ancestral homeland. That may not even be a valid question; the ties that bound the United States and Turkey during Iraq War 2.0 appear significantly weakened following Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan’s coup. His authoritarian government seems far less a valued NATO partner in 2017 than it was even a few years ago. Though the US may require the Kurds to maintain some sort of fictional relationship with the country of “Iraq” to preserve the illusion of a unified nation for American domestic consumption, the key question is whether the Kurds will go to war with Turkey somewhere in the process, and whether the US will choose a side.

    Any reluctance on the part of the United States during Iraq War 2.0 to act as a restraining force on the Shia central government’s empowering of militias (gifted the Orwellian name of Popular Mobilization Units) disappeared when the Iraqi National Army dropped its weapons and ran from Islamic State in 2014. Those militias — only loosely allied with one another, and even less tied to the central government — now carry the bulk of the responsibility for the fight against Islamic State. Many owe their primary allegiance to Iran, who helps arm them, command them, and by some accounts supplements their efforts with special forces dispatched from Tehran. These militias, empowered by the Iranian help now offered openly as America shrugs its shoulders at expediency, are unlikely to be interested in any kind of Sunni-Shia unified Iraq post-Islamic State. It will be near impossible to demobilize them. Indeed, holding them back from committed a Sunni genocide will be the likely challenge in the near future.

    The Iraqi government “victories” over Islamic State in Sunni strongholds like Ramadi and Fallujah have left little for those not sent off as internal refugees. Large swathes of Sunni territory lay in ruins, with no clear plan to rebuild in sight. A political officer at the American Embassy would likely tell you the problem is that neither the U.S. nor Iraq will have the funds anytime in the foreseeable future. A Sunni tribal leader would likely spit on the ground and explain the Shia central government wouldn’t spend a dime if it had a dollar, and will settle for a slow-motion genocide of the Sunni people if the Americans won’t allow a quick one at Shia gunpoint. No matter; the desolation of Sunni areas is severe, regardless of the cause.

    Iraq will be a Shia nation with extraordinary ties to Iran. With no small amount of irony, the price Iraq and Iran will be forced to pay for America, and Israel, titularly accepting this will likely be permanent American military bases inside Iraq (don’t laugh until you remember Guantanamo in Soviet-dominated Cuba, or Hong Kong nestled in Communist China), mostly out of sight way out west with more interest in Syria than Iran. America has wanted those bases since the early days of Iraq War 2.0, and Iran has nothing to gain by picking a fight with the United States. They get the rest of Iraq, after all.

    What happens to the bulk of Iraqi Sunnis is less certain, though the menu is all bad news. World media optics suggest it is in everyone’s interests that any mass slaughter be avoided; Iran in particular would have no interest in giving President Trump or an angry Congress an excuse to get more involved in Iraq’s internal affairs. With the US bases most likely to be located in western Iraqi Sunni homelands, it may be that the tribes find themselves the unofficial beneficiaries of American protection. Those permanent American bases, and the safety they provide, might also keep the successor to Islamic State from moving into a power vacuum the way Islamic State did when al Qaeda found it had outstayed its welcome among the Sunni population.

    This is the End

    Tell me how this ends? A defacto divided Sunni-Shia-Kurd “Iraq” with stronger ties to Iran than the United States. The only unanswered question will be if the value of that ending is worth the cost of some 14 years of American combat, close to 4,500 American dead, and trillions of taxpayer dollars spent.

     

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    Copyright © 2017. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity. Follow me on Twitter!

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...

      1

      Phil:You want a prediction about the war in Iraq. Okay, I’ll give you a prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.

      06/23/17 10:22 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      2

      PVB, good that you said …”trillions of taxpayers dollars spent”. Some would say trillions “lost” but that would be a lie. Money is never LOST. it just goes places perhaps one did not intend it to go. If I spend $300 at Disney World some of those dollars go to the guy who plays Goofy in a rubber suit. That at least makes sense.

      06/23/17 11:07 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      3

      America’s invasion of the Middle East will be pasteurized for public consumption 100 years from now. America is “reframing” our invasion of South East Asia to make it seem beatific. Both invasions will be marketed as America’s benevolent contribution to world peace at great sacrifice.

      06/23/17 11:50 AM | Comment Link

    • lindaj said...

      4

      Do we care how it ended for hundreds of thousands of Iraqis no longer treading this earthly plain?

      06/23/17 1:39 PM | Comment Link

    • lindaj said...

      5

      Or plane.

      06/23/17 1:39 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      6

      Trumpi and the Repugnicans dont give a shit about the poor people in the US. They certainly wont care what happens to any Iraqis.

      Poor people: What do you want?

      Repugnicans: We want you to die.

      06/23/17 2:36 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      7

      lindaj Iraqi? Apache, Mohawk – Souix- all the same-Exterminate them! Sign on a conestoga wagon circa 1840: Global hegemony or bust!

      Bauer: Repugnicans: “We want you to die way before you start drawing SS which we plan to jettison anyway soon.”

      06/23/17 4:13 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      8

      Mission accomplished.

      06/23/17 4:40 PM | Comment Link

    • Mitch said...

      9

      A few points here…

      First….. Iran has been annexing pieces of Syria for quite some time now… Much the same as Iran has been doing to Iraq.

      Second… Peter… You said ” and again in 2017 as Islamic State appears to be on its way out. “…… When did this happen???… All I’m seeing is a dramatic change in Tactics…. With their new leadership… They have fully realized they can not beat a combined, US, Russia and Israeli force…

      The current trend of sucidial bomber types are probing actions … Testing the existing responses… World wide…

      ISIS… Somehow…. Has an indoctrination program that can take kids as young as 9… Male and female…. And turn them into fighters and sucidial bombers in a matter of months…. That does not appear to be losing….
      Knowing that most modern cops and soliders have serious issue with firing on children.

      Does not come across as losing….. Just change in tactics….

      Third…. This whole damn mess…. A CREATED mess….. We should Never have stepped in this pile….. It does not even come off with a fire hose…

      Next…

      Rich…. Its Friday… Purple pill with the white lines … Not the green ones…

      M

      06/23/17 5:53 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      10

      How is the Obama surge going?!

      06/23/17 6:28 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      11

      Be careful of the Brutal Kangaroo!

      06/23/17 6:49 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      12

      Mitch: As a proud Hillary Hater I am enjoying reading about Obama’s indecisive response to the purported Russian meddling. He jumped the line in 2008 and then again messed her chances in 2016. I’m loving that more than a Big Mac (not really-I don’t eat at McDonalds).

      06/24/17 9:14 AM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      13

      Mitch – the info about turning children into zombie killers via religious indoctrination must surely explain why I despise all current religions. I’m not a bad person being a non believer. I just think to survive as a species we need to jettison that swaggering rogue male (no wife) in the sky. It is a toxic belief.

      06/24/17 9:19 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      14

      The people who count only count money. The rest of Us dont count.

      06/24/17 10:16 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      15

      Kumbaya my lord !

      06/24/17 10:18 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      16

      Dont worry, Chuck. They will get paid back with interest with all that money burning a hole in their soul.

      06/24/17 11:06 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      17

      What would Barry do the third time he fhrc? Have a nice day. What did the house cost @Kalorama)? Is he a Community Organizer there? Barnum and Bailey is gone. Trump is here. So are We! What fun. The Fourth is soon. Will the “Terror” level go Facist Brown? Have a nice day. Support Our Troops? Next up…False Flag for the 4th. Was it the Russians or propaganda from a failing Empire? Enjoy Peace. Ike/Butler/2020

      06/24/17 12:48 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      18

      Imagine JohnLennon/2020 !

      06/24/17 2:35 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      19

      Join the people. Peace…

      06/24/17 2:35 PM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      20

      Who is your God? Edward Snowden? Disneyworld? USA?

      06/24/17 3:23 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      21

      Chuck: Who is my God- I haven’t a clue. Some cosmic chemical algorithm which allowed life to form on Earth. That is my pathetic guess.

      06/24/17 3:41 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      22

      Off subject but not really. What would Obama have done or not done if the NSA chatter had been that Putin was purposely trying to ensure a Hillary win and a Trump discrediting?

      06/24/17 7:52 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...

      23

      If the Repugnicans were smart – they’re just not as stupid as the Dems- they would embrace the idea that Hillarious lost because of the Russkie hacks so the dumbass donkies would run Hillarious again.

      06/24/17 8:04 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      24

      Bauer- it is hard to tell as of this writing whether Hillary would actually run again for POTUS. Maybe she’ll be forced out of retirement because the Dems have no one else. That would of course be pathetic but very fitting for vested interests. Something vastly different from the usual politics is way over due. Keep the faith.

      06/24/17 9:47 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      25

      The film BY DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT had a disgruntled Russian general launching a missile from Turkey towards Russia to try to undo a detente between Russia and the USA. The possibilities for framing any player who wants diplomacy today are limitless to keep wars going. Peace is an untenable prospect for the MICC. MLK saw America as the problem. So why isn’t BLM taking up MLK’s higher cause internationally?

      06/25/17 10:29 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      26

      Why isn’t The Congressional Black Caucus…against war, etc.? The D and R’s are slaves to the master.

      06/25/17 10:46 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      27

      Why did D’s stop Single Payer this week in Calf.? Why did they in Vermont under Shumlin? (Jane Sanders hired big lawyers recently…VT.Digger. Can you handle the Truth? Rahm Emanuel to head D comeback?!!!!

      06/25/17 10:49 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      28

      I am not sure if Kushner”s dad , or Chelsea Clinton’s husbands dad are alive, but what if they form a D an R ticket for 2020?

      06/25/17 10:59 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      29

      Obama killed Occupy. What would Trump do?

      06/25/17 11:00 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      30

      Adam Schiff voted for the war in Iraq. What a great spokesperson for the war party. Killery/2020

      06/25/17 11:17 AM | Comment Link

    • chuck said...

      31

      I do not vote D or R (disclaimer).

      06/25/17 11:18 AM | Comment Link

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