"Indeed, some US Army officers now talk more sympathetically about former insurgents than they do about their ostensible allies in the Shiite-led central government. "It is painful, very painful," dealing with the obstructionism of Iraqi officials, said Army Lt. Col. Mark Fetter. As for the Sunni fighters who for years bombed and shot U.S. soldiers and now want to join the police, Fetter shrugged. "They have got to eat," he said over lunch in the 1st Cavalry Division’s mess hall here. "There are so many we’ve detained and interrogated, they did what they did for money."
The best promise for breaking the deadlock would be holding provincial elections, officers said — though they recognize that elections could turn bloody and turbulent, undercutting the fragile stability they now see developing in Iraq.
"The tipping point that I’ve been looking for as an intel officer, we are there," said one Army officer here who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of his position. "The GOI [government of Iraq] and ISF [Iraqi security forces] are at the point where they can make it or break it." " Tom Ricks and Karen de Young
Great Minds, etc……
It sure is a shame to have wasted so much and so many getting to a situation which was always available to us in Iraq. We, more or less, created the phenomenon of Al-Qa’ida in Iraq through our ham-handed treatment of the Sunni Arab population of the country. We literally drove them into the arms of the takfiri jihadis.
Now, their disgust with the fanatics and a more enlightened policy on our part have made it possible for the greater part of the Sunni Arabs to part company with our true enemies.
As Ricks writes in this article, it is now up to the Iraqi Government. Do they want to try to re-build the kind of condominium of communities that produced mixed marriages and mixed residence or do they want to "bet the farm" on the new social order that the CPA and the Chalabi crowd (there and here) installed?
I sympathize with those like Abu Aardvark (Lynch) who would like to see a unitary state in Iraq that receives the meek submission of the various groups. In fact, that was never going to happen in Iraq. The state and the national identity were too tentative and fragile to survive the battering that we inflicted on it. There is a chance now of restoring national unity on the basis of bargaining (deal-making) and power sharing across ethno-sectarian and regional lines.
If the Baghdad government seizes that chance then a new Iraq can emerge. If the government does not, then the stage is set for a long drama of internal and external conflict. pl