“A bitter Mideast split “

"The tragic outcome for Iraq and the region could be that both Arabs and Iranians might enhance their assistance to their respective sectarian allies in Iraq in what is shaping up as a fight by proxy.

These are the very developments that the Bush administration and its allies had wanted to avoid. But they are now confronted with them as a fait accompli. The occupying forces can no longer really trust either the Iraqi Sunni or Shiites. The only friends on whom they can count are the Kurds. No wonder President Jalal Talabani, the most prominent Kurd in the present Iraqi leadership, is desperately trying to persuade the United States and Britain against any early withdrawal of their troops.

"Unless Bush and Blair succeed in opening direct negotiations with the Iraqi resistance and enlist the support of Iraq’s neighbors, especially Iran and Syria, as well as the Arab League, the Iraq conflict is set to grow into a bigger and longer-term regional crisis. "

(Amin Saikal, a professor of political science, directs the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University.)

Well, what does he know?  That was humor, folks.  He knows a lot.

Our basic mistake in Iraq was to believe that Iraq was eagerly awaiting a social revolution that would sweep away the old and welcome the new in a kind of joyful French Revolution festival of retribution and enabling.  The neocon Jacobins, true to their names, believed this most of all and somehow believed that the 12er Shia would be the instrument for the realization of this fantasy.  These Shia were the same people  who were angry at Saddam for not allowing them to beat themselves with chains and machetes on Ashura.

So, instead of re-starting the clock of history in Iraq as a first and triggering step toward a general festival of westernization in the Middle East, we have de-stabilized a system in which the only thing that unites all the groups, tribes, ethnic nations and religious identities is their mutual detestation of the "other."  Oh, yes, they don’t have much use for us either. (Kurds excepted, but they might get there yet)

So….  After the momentary elation of the referendum (purple thumbs) dies down, let us all think of how we are going to try to live in the real world and give up for a while our preference for some other world.

Oh!  I am inclined to think that some measure of accountability should be attempted for the catastrophe that has been visited on so many.  In Lincoln’s time the Congress created the "Committee on the Conduct of the War."  Perhaps the word "misconduct" could be substituted.

Pat Lang


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8 Responses to “A bitter Mideast split “

  1. avedis says:

    Oh, I don’t know Colonel, but if one was a Jacobin like M. Leden, one might welcome these developments; albeit in a perverse sort of way.
    Iranian involvement equates to an Iranian scapegoat wich leads to the possibility of fullfillment of the Ledeenian call for “total war” against the Islamic world.
    Call me paraniod, but I can see that sort of thinking as a real, however fantastic, asessment that is being made in certain quarters,

  2. Eric says:

    Excellent review of George Packer’s book, the Assassin’s Gate, over at Salon. You can get a day pass.
    One of the interesting points in the book is that the neoclowns were in favor of giving the Shia power’, apparently believing all the shia wore silk suits.
    It’s interesting to me, but perhaps inevitable given that no one in the Neoclown movement had any real knowledge of the country, and the Iraqis on whom they relied for guidance had themselses been exiles for 20 or more years.
    Amusingly, the review is titled “The Path to Hell”.
    A Snippet:
    The OSP also recruited several Middle East experts, including Harold Rhode, a protégé of the Princeton Arabist Bernard Lewis. Rhode, whose keen grasp of regional realities was reflected in his musing that one way to transform the Middle East would be to change the Farsi alphabet in Iran to Roman, was an ardent proponent, like other neocons, of installing Ahmad Chalabi as prime minister — thus restoring Shiites to power. “Shiite power was the key to the whole neoconservative vision for Iraq,” Packer notes. “The convergence of ideas, interests, and affections between certain American Jews and Iraqi Shia was one of the more curious subplots of the Iraq War … the Shia and the Jews, oppressed minorities in the region, could do business, and … traditional Iraqi Shiism (as opposed to the theocratic, totalitarian kind that had taken Iran captive) could lead the way to reorienting the Arab world toward America and Israel.”

  3. RJJ says:

    How long have the Chalabi family been Muslims. Anybody know?

  4. avedis says:

    It’s articles like this that were behind my post (above).

  5. Michael Murry says:

    About a year or so previously, I remember a discussion on one of the PBS programs wherein a critic of the usual-suspect Iraqi expatriates derided them for “fighting Saddam from the casinoes and nightclubs of Europe.”

  6. Curious says:

    The basic mistake.
    Bush thinks Iraq is some latin american banana republic where he can just pull CIA ‘topple-a-government-O-rama’ without violent rejection. Iraq, instead is a major arab country where a failure can lead to global geopolitical disruption.
    Obviously all the brilliant people, including the neocons fails to learn from Iran, where the puppet government ultimately fail and give birth to Islamic revolution. The population and the cultural elite rejected the shah. What is worth in Iraq, everybody in Iraq learns from history. They were under sanction, they know US has hostile intention, Saddam know all the ‘topple o rama’ plots, etc.. etc. It’s all a sad case of not learning from history.
    The combination of Neocon intel/adviser stove piping and Bush relatively non existence world view make a dangerous cocktail. (add to that meek and obsequence military/advisers/oppositions who suppose to know better and stop the pres)
    My prediction:
    – It’ll be stay the course from Bush point of view.
    – Each artificial milestones Bush announces, run by those puppet government, will create ever larger disconnect. Bigger public discontent, further damaging national unity, national infrastructure, standard of living, etc.
    – Al qaeda will do what they do the best. stirr up cultural resentment, undrmining central authority. Using small the usual tools (intimidation, religious firebrand talk, explosives) Nobody can stop Al qaeda in this area, because all the religious/cultural authorities are either been killed or not in our side anymore.
    – Internal politics jockeying. Whoever the idiots who keeps imagining Iraq as suni vs. Shia vs. kurds. now get their dream. National unity dissolves and Iraq ceases to exists. It is now a balkan state with demographic attribute. This struggle of Iraq national vs. ethnic identity will burn the entire region just like in Balkan. It will start with Kurdish, the shia vs. sunni. We are right now at the beginning of point of no return on civil war. No credible political figure can mend/hold together sunni/shia split. In fact the national unity are continuously being undermine.
    – So now enter third parties. They will exploit the situation in Iraq to maximise their national standing. Iran, Syria, Israel Are the obvious players. These are the obvious characters that gain/lost if Iraq completely implode. So why not create a controled implosion so all the chips will fall to their advantage?
    – Israel would want to neutralize the Suni, they are using Kurdish.
    – Syria would want to keep the Sunni to crush Israel
    – Iran would want Shia on their side to gain upper hand on the whole situation.
    – Energy price spike, global economic slowdown, twin budget deficits.
    And the real war in Iraq hasn’t even begin yet. Soon we will fondly remember current Iraq situation as ‘good ‘ol days when we only deal with clever insurgence and car bombs’ instead of third party backed fighters equipped with Chinese SAM, Russian high power RPG, night googles and advance mines. Plus Iranian trained guerillas and gigantic civil war in between.
    … each day it seems this worst case scenario is becoming more and more pronounce.

  7. Curious says:

    >> How long have the Chalabi family been Muslims. Anybody know?
    Posted by: RJJ | 10 October 2005 at 11:53 AM >>
    I don’t think it matters. The question should be asked, how long has chalabi been an Iraqi expat who plays with the neocon?
    Chalabi has long history of playing with Iranian secret srvice, CIA, DIA, and beltway think-tank. He ultimately join Neocon’s Iraq project.

  8. avedis says:

    Actually, Michael Ledeen said, last night, that Iraq is going very well and latest developments confirm that the country will not fracture in civil war. He doesn’t understand how any intelligent person could conclude that civil war is immenent.
    He then went on to praise Chalabi. He says that Chalabi is an excellent negotiater and is behind recent positive developments.
    Finally, he says that the Iraqi people should have been given a noble peace price.
    So, somebody is wrong here, way wrong here. How can such divergent perspectives exists given that we all inhabit the same universe?

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