Khalilzad on Insurgent Support

"What they are doing is to go for broader level of support because of political considerations, because of the need to build consensus, because of the need to isolate the insurgency from the Sunni population."  Khalilzad

Congratulations, Mr. Ambassador!!

It has been clear from the very beginning of the armed uprising in Iraq that the largely (but not altogether) Sunni Arab revolt could not exist, grow and continue to operate without some level of popular support.

A very simple and basic principle of insurgent warfare is that guerrillas have to have food, shelter, money, weapons, intelligence and a population which accepts their presence and does not report them to the security forces.  That support or cooperation can be freely given, coerced, or some combination of the two. 

The Bush Administration and the senior leadership of the US Armed forces has maintained throughout the war that the insurgents are:

-Baathist holdouts and "deadenders" who are not more than a handful and who are without popular support.

-Foreign and domestic mercenaries (often criminal) who are also without popular support.

-Iraqi Islamists (a handful) who have no popular support.

-Foreign Islamists smuggled in primarily from Syria (no support).

Right up until yesterday the egregious (but handsome) Dan Bartlett, White House Communications Director, was saying on the tube that those who are fighting the "progress of Democracy" in Iraq are a "tiny, indeed miniscule" percentage of the "Iraqi people."

In this context, the clear headed realism of Ambassador Khalilzad in telling Gwen Ifill of the Newshour that the new constitution must receive a lot of Sunni Arab support in order to "isolate the insurgency from the Sunni population" is highly significant.

What this tells us is that Khalilzad, and therefor probably the Bush Administration, has a much clearer understanding of the structure and numbers of the insurgencies than we had been led to believe.

Pat Lang

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17 Responses to Khalilzad on Insurgent Support

  1. wtofd says:

    Do you have a sense of the viability of a deal being struck b/w the Sunni, Shi’a and Kurds? Khalilzad points out that there is always a lot of bluster and posturing during ME negotiations. He seems optimistic that behind closed doors they will resolve the issues.
    But his last two paragraphs are a laundry list of potential snags. Seems like too many ifs.

  2. ismoot says:

    seems mor likely that they will try to “paper over” the major disagreements, leaving final disagreement for a future date.

  3. wtofd says:

    The old “let’s save water, right of return and Jerusalem for later” approach.

  4. KY Wildcat says:

    Certainly applaud the intent to “go for broader level of support … because of the need to build consensus, (and) isolate the insurgency from the Sunni population.” However (ahem), this constitution they’ve got here sure seems a damned funny way to go about it.

  5. ismoot says:

    You are right, although I had in mind the disconnect between their “headquarters and their “hindquarters.”

  6. ismoot says:

    Yes. Their approach brings to mind the old Pentagon joke about a rubber stamp bearing the message “Re-submit in 90 days for final disapproval.”

  7. searp says:

    It matters little that there is a realistic appreciation of the facts on the ground unless there is a viable plan to alter those facts to produce a favorable result.
    Beginning at the beginning, I’d like to know what constitutes the desired result. That is, can we say with any precision at all what we want from this war?
    Once that is defined, we could assess the probability of achieving the objective and use that as a basis for policy formulation.
    All I have seen from this administration is a series of tactical objectives which have been based, variously, on poor intelligence, wishful thinking, domestic political needs and discredited ideology.
    No wonder the public is confused. If Khalizad seems to understand matters, maybe we ought to make him President until we resolve this conflict. Certainly none of Bush’s public statements have had any concessions to reality at all.

  8. wtofd says:

    The rubber stamp joke is great. Still, I wonder if Iraq is approaching Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t status.
    How can the Kurdish federalist wishes be resolved?
    If you give them the northern oil fields and allow for the de-arabization of the cities SH arabized will the Sunni’s accept it? What is the carrot for the Sunni’s? A percentage of oil revenues?
    As for Kurdish-Shi’a discord, will either side accept the other’s secular/religious law?
    Oil and alcohol at the crux of Iraq it seems.

  9. NYkriNDC says:

    To wtofd:
    The incentive to Sunnis is exactly what you alluded to, a cut of oil profits through the construction of a pipeline from some Northern oil fields to Jordan. The Sunnis would receive transit fees for the oil sent through said pipeline.

  10. wtofd says:

    Where would the oil go from Jordan? Aqaba?
    And the Shi’a don’t have the same transit concerns b/c presumably they’d have Basra?
    But the Kurds would have to cut across Nineveh to get to Syria? What about Turkey or Iran as transit lines? I know the Kurds and Turks don’t get along but if money was exchanging hands?…

  11. carol says:

    Mr Lang– I have nothing to add to the conversation but a quick thanks ––just saw you on MSNBC and I respect your views––knowledge –experience and always learn from you —always check to see what you have written here –again Thank you.

  12. carol says:

    Ooops! Colonel Lang—-not Mr. Sorry Sir .

  13. NYkriNDC says:

    From what I can recall..this was a while ago…there was a report of A Fallujah businessman who was trying to get funding from the US for a pipeline through the Sunni triangle to Jordan to the port of al Aqaba as a way to not only give the Sunnis a stake in the stability of the country but also to allow them to profit from Iraq’s oil reserves without it seeming like a handout.
    I think I saw the report in the NY Times, but I can’t recall. I’ll try to do a search through Lexis to see if I can get at archived content.
    The Turks would rather give the pipeline to the Sunnis before doing anything with the Turks.
    The pipeline would be more feasible through the Sunni Triangle (once insurgency is over) to Jordan because the US would support it, as opposed to a pipeline through Syria.
    Also, it is a perfect way to give the Sunnis a reason to safeguard the pipeline. It provides them with jobs, food on the table and hence a stake in a peaceful Iraq.

  14. NYkriNDC says:

    Sorry I meant the Kurds would rather give the pipeline to the Sunnis before doing anything with the Turks.

  15. b says:

    @NYkriNDC – that “Fallujah businessman” with the Aquaba pipeline would have been Rumsfeld?
    “In the mid-1980s the Americans and Israelis were involved in talks to develop a pipeline from Iraq across Jordan to Aqaba, a stone’s throw from Eilat. Iraq, then considered a US ally, was at that time locked in a war with Iran in which Tehran’s ally Syria had cut off the flow of Iraqi oil across its territory to the Mediterranean.
    Among the participants was one Donald Rumsfeld, then an adviser to Ronald Reagan, and the American Bechtel Corporation headed by future secretary of state James Baker III. Bechtel is expected to secure major reconstruction projects in the new Iraq.”
    The Kirkuk oilfields are very old (started 1927) and in decline allready. The Kurds are working on a bad deal (for them). In a few years they will not have much oil to distribute.

  16. ismoot says:

    Seems to me that the Kurds are going to have to get over their aversion to the Turks to survive in the new neighborhood. pl

  17. NYkrinDC says:

    Sorry guys I ost track of this conversation. To address your points, no the Fallujah businessman is not Rummy. This plan was reported by NYT and WP, a while back when we were first goigng into Andar province. This Fallujan argued that the best way to reduce the insurgency was to build such a pipeline. He argued that the tribes (one of which he belonged to) would protect said pipeline because of the royalties they could claim from it.
    The Kurds, unless given no choice will go with anyone but Turkey.

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