"Under the plan, the first reductions would involve two combat brigades that would rotate out of Iraq in September without being replaced. Military officials do not typically characterize reductions by total troop numbers, but rather by brigades. Combat brigades, which generally have about 3,500 troops, do not make up the bulk of the 127,000-member American force in Iraq, and other kinds of units would not be pulled out as quickly.
American officials emphasized that any withdrawals would depend on continued progress, including the development of competent Iraqi security forces, a reduction in Sunni Arab hostility toward the new Iraqi government and the assumption that the insurgency will not expand beyond Iraq’s six central provinces. Even so, the projected troop withdrawals in 2007 are more significant than many experts had expected" Gordon
"NEWSWEEK has obtained a draft copy of the national reconciliation plan, and verified its contents with two Iraqi officials involved in the reconciliation process who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the plan’s contents. Prime Minister Maliki will present the document to the National Assembly when it convenes on Sunday, and it’s expected to be debated over the coming week. Maliki has made reconciliation and control of party militias the main emphasis of his new government. This plan follows a series of secret negotiations over the past two months between seven insurgent groups, President Jalal Talabani and officials of the U.S. embassy. The insurgent groups involved are Sunnis but do not include foreign jihadis like al Qaeda and other terrorist factions who deliberately target civilians; those groups have always denounced any negotiations.
The distinction between insurgents and terrorists is one of the key principles in the document, and is in response to Sunni politicians’ demands that the "national resistance" should not be punished for what they see as legitimate self-defense in attacks against a foreign occupying power. Principle No. 19 calls for "Recognizing the legitimacy of the national resistance and differentiating or separating it from terrorism" while "encouraging the national resistance to enroll in the political process and recognizing the necessity of the participation of the national resistance in the national reconciliation dialogue."" Newswek
A couple of things:
– This was a controlled leak to Gordon. So, the question is, why?
– The withdrawal plan is workable in the conditions described.
– There does not seem to be a "zero US troops in country" desired end state in this plan. IMO any long term US combat troops presence will result in the instability of the Iraqi government and continued hostile action against our forces in Iraq.
– Maliki’s reconciliation plan would reduce guerrilla activity to that carried on by the international jihadis if it were accepted by the seven resistance groups with whom he has been negotiating, This would isolate the jihadis and a wide variety of Iraqis would then concentrate on eliminating them as a nuisance.
-To obtain the agreement of the seven groups it will be necessary to 1- give the Sunni Arab and secular Shia a larger share of power and wealth than their numbers would justify if it were not necessary to get them to stop fighting. 2- accept the Iraqi notion that fighting our occupation was a legitimate form of national resistance.
– "2" above is clearly an American problem. The Iraqis are already "there." This is going to be difficult for a lot of Americans to accept. They have been taught to think of the "resistance" as criminals. It will be hard to get people to stop thinking of them that way.
– Why is this necessary? Well, folks, you can’t make peace with your friends. You have to make peace with the enemy, or at least some enemies.
– How does this post relate to the last one? The last one is what happens if al-Mailki fails.
The long term issue is political stability. It may be that a modus vivendi can be reached via a reconciliation plan, but if we’re there in any numbers at all we will have some responsibility for stability.
So, issue: how are Iraq’s longer term issues solved? Shia dominance, Kirkuk, which brand/how much theocracy, our role and influence vs. Iranian vs. Saudi/Syrian/Turkish?
Colin Powell had it partially right: although we may not own it, we end up in the position of a not-very-powerful referee.
Let’s accept for a moment that the long term goal is a peaceful, prosperous, independent, pro-Western Iraqi democracy. Do we have a plan to achieve this, not just withdrawal? If we withdraw before we have acheived this, did we win?
I believe both plans are merely aspirations (bordering on delusions). They have little grounding in reality. The initiative has passed from the Americans.
Right now there is a struggle going on between various forces in Iraq. One force thinks, for the present, it serves their purpose to have the Americans stay. al-Maliki is playing the part of their beard here. They just want to focus on getting stronger. The way a young cub stays in a protected den as it gets bigger and stronger. Associating with the Americans, again, for the present is the price they pay to get stronger. And besides…the Americans pay well.
The moment, and I mean moment, they think they are strong enough to survive (whether they are accurate in this assumption is an entirely different matter) without American help they will ask the Americans to leave. Right then and there. It will be the price they pay for establishing their bones in the world of Arab nationalism. And what is left will, at best, resemble a democracy like Jordan, or Algeria resembles one. It will be mildly hostile to Israel (so the neo-cons will fail in that regard). We will fall back to putting more backing in to the Kurdish area of Iraq. However that area is constituted.
I think the real battle will be between the pro-Iranian faction of Shia’ in Iraq v. the anti-Iranian Shia. Both sides will try, at very times, and to various degrees of success to bring in Sunnis and Kurds on their sides. I have no idea who will win this internal struggle. But if war breaks out between Iraq and Iran we will side with Iraq. And they will indeed call us back in. Only to the start the entire fiasco one more time. And when Iran is defeated in this struggle we will once again be asked to leave. Post haste.
Ok…that’s my take on the matter to the limited extent it has any relevancy at all.
Why a controlled leak? Political spin for the November elections. It counteracts this week’s Democratic initiatives to set a timetable for withdrawal and buys time for the Republicans to seize the reins of the issue. If al-Maliki’s plan bears fruit, so much the better. If not, Rove can frame the failure as being despite the best intentions of the WH. This is strictly for the consumption of the domestic audience.
Al-Maliki’s strategy reminds me of Seward’s plan to declare war on England during the War Between The States – unite the country by fighting a shared foreign enemy. The problem is what happens if it works. The alliance you’ve created is dependent on conflict against outsiders, not finding common ground among yourselves. So it’s either go back to fighting each other or find another enemy. A Shia alliance probably means war with Sunnis, either domestic or elsewhere, while resumption of Iraqi nationalism requires throwing out the US.
Considering their control over domestic news, the WH can spin being evicted as our own turnover of security to the local government, and our leaving some bases there as a bulwark against “democracy haters.” Something along those lines.
But everything being done between now and 2008 will be executed for the US home audience. Did the neocons ever really care about the welfare or security of the Iraqis in the first place, or was it merely intended as a proving ground for their dreams of empire? Thus far the only thing they’ve proved is that you can break eggs without making an omelet. Yet, despite the opinions of the outside, real world, they control the debate at home. They’re not going to relinquish their influence without a fight.
Who will enforce the disarming of the militias and various guerrilla groups? Is the national Iraqi army strong enough to take on the militias and keep order? Are the kurds not considered a militia?
All the major groups powerbase rests on the armed militias which they now would have to recind. And a larger piece of the pie for one group obviously means less for someone else. The only party who have the muscle to enforce the disarming is the US who according to the plan will send home parts of its combat strength?
Just pointing out the obvious flaws in my eyes.
Karl Rove is no dummy. With the growing trend of public sentiment against the Iraqi invasion and now a majority for getting out of the quagmire, nothing like leaking stories and creating sufficient plausibility that the US will withdraw. A few token troop withdrawals timed for the Nov election. This Administration beneath all the deceit is committed to a permanent presence. It will not be easy to unwind that commitment even for another President.
Maliki needs political reconciliation to govern. He can’t run a government with a civil war raging. Can he herd all the cats to a political solution which is the only solution that will work? With all the competing interests and all the foreign powers playing their own games the task will be difficult to accomplish. The insurgency or “national resistance” whatever it is called will not end anytime soon. The Iraqi society has already been destabilized so much and the momentum is clearly towards more anarchy. I hope however that Maliki and national reconciliation is successful and Iraqis can get on with their lives and our troops can be more safe.
You Can’t Make Peace With Your Friends
Pat Lang makes a simple observation while discussing Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki’s reconciliation plan, which includes amnesty for many of the insurgent groups that we are now fighting:
-To obtain the agreement of the seven groups it will be necessary
Did you note al-Maliki made four changes to his plan late yesterday? Revised Plan
I don’t see how this plan enhances political stability.
‘Did you note al-Maliki made four changes to his plan late yesterday? Revised Plan
I don’t see how this plan enhances political stability.’
It just shows what a farce the whole national reconciliation process is. Or the idea of a sovereign iraqi goverment.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malki’s 24-point detailed plan does have possibilities of ending the violence in Iraq and bringing stability
If my link doesn’t bring up the English translation, I copied and saved it to my computer and will post it.
Slightly OT. I was just thinking.
AQ spent under $1 million on the 9/11 operation. In retaliation if a back of the envelope calculation is made of expenditures in Afghanistan, Iraq, rendition, Gitmo and NSA/CIA/Pentagon black ops we must have spent close to $1 trillion.
That seems to epitomize asymmetric warfare.
3 years ago maybe. Today in the current political reality. I think not unless someone are prepared to enforce security and to put it bluntly knock heads which brings back the old strongman argument.
Besides the military industrial complex there is also now a national security industrial complex with the privatization of intelligence support functions. Lots of contractors making money providing everything from software to translators.