<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d5529474\x26blogName\x3dDimmy+Karras\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dSILVER\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://dimmykarras.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://dimmykarras.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d2234159095245132931', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Thursday, December 15, 2005

How to Deal with Iraq's Insurgents

There's a good leader in the Economist (subscriber link, I think, though I have access) on how the post-election political horse-trading in Iraq provides a chance to take steps toward stemming the insurgency. I'll throw out the important excerpt on actions to be taken:

Official Washington has stuck for too long to the line that the insurgents are mostly jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and "regime remnants" intent only on reclaiming their former privileges. It has been convenient for both the Bush administration and for Iraq's interim government to portray things that way; but, if it was ever true, it no longer is. The insurgency now has a broad base within the Sunni population, much of which was traumatised by the sweeping away of the Baathist state and the erasure of its key institutions, notably the army. In many Sunni minds, Mr Hussein's dictatorship is being replaced by a Shia dictatorship. The Shias may be the majority but are held to be carving a proud Arab nation into one oil-rich Shia state under the influence of Iran, and a separate breakaway region, also rich in oil, for the Kurds. If the post-Saddam dispensation is to be winner-takes-all, Sunnis seem determined to make sure that there will be no winner at all.

The new parliament's first job must therefore be to create a coalition government broad enough to persuade the Sunnis that they will have a central, if no longer dominant, place in the new Iraq. The United Iraqi Alliance, a predominantly Shia Islamist collection implicitly blessed by the hugely influential Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, looks set to win the most votes. An alliance of the two main Kurdish parties is even surer to sweep the Kurdish north. Together, these two blocks have the numbers to run the show, as they have done for the past year. But it is crucial that they now embrace at least one of the Sunni-led alliances that have emerged since January.

This will not be an easy thing for Shias and Kurds to do. Many feel that they owe the Sunnis nothing after years of oppression at their hands. But taking Sunni parties into a governing coalition is only the first of several difficult steps the former underdogs need to take if they are to draw the sting of the insurgency. They will also have to make real concessions, even if this means tweaking the new constitution. Though the document has many merits, and was negotiated painstakingly, its formula for sharing Iraq's oil revenues is divisive, making Sunnis fear they will not get a fair whack. And parliament should limit a provision that enables the Shia Arabs to create a "super-region" of perhaps eight or nine provinces. As it stands, this lets Sunnis believe that federalism means breaking up the country. Parliament should also soften the deBaathification rules, so that many more Iraqis who served Mr Hussein's dictatorship should be drawn back into the machinery of state, unless they are senior figures with blood on their hands.

I just found the novelty of reading some constructive suggestions on what to do in Iraq exciting and thought I would share. The Economist, a publication that has ardently supported the war, candidly admits that "Iraq is a bloody mess" in the opening line of the piece, it acknowledges that military might alone cannot defeat the insurgency, and it argues that convincing the Shia to make political concessions, while it will be difficult, is necessary. "Otherwise the country will not hold together, and the blood of too many Iraqis--and too many Americans--will have been spilt in vain."

I am not optimistic, given the missteps so far, that the people running the show in Iraq will somehow figure things out suddenly and pull this off. But here's hoping.