"Your unity is essential in rebuilding your city. You have to come together and unify — Sunnis, Shiites, Muslims and non-Muslims and nationalists," he said.
Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, said the handover was "the right thing to do" for southern Iraq, but American officials worry that a power vacuum could heighten the influence of Iran and threaten land routes used to bring ammunition, food and other supplies from Kuwait to U.S. troops to the north.
"What we have to watch is undue Iranian influence," Odierno told a small gathering of reporters in Baghdad." Yahoo News
Glad to see the supply route security issue has their attention now. It did not for a long time. A lack of imagination seems to be a continuing problem in the planning process.
On the issue of Iranian influence in the south, it sounds like Odierno is "channeling" the White House. The Iranians are obviously going to have a lot of influence in south Iraq. They intend to dominate Iraq generally without occupying any of it and they intend to dominate the Basra area most of all. How will they do that? They will continue to play the various Shia factions against each other to their own benefit. This is a winning strategy.
Clearly, the US should look at the possibility of applying the "divide and rule" methods it has applied elsewhere in Iraq to this problem. There is no reason to treat the Shia population as a monolith. There are analogous fissure lines among the various Shia factions and between them and the Shia tribes. Is a diagram necessary? pl