Saturday, February 25, 2006

Power Plays Being Made In Iraq

Update: 2/27 As soon as I had posted this I began to have second thoughts. Today, Omar at Iraq the Model has forced me to admit that the blame for the Samarra mosque bombing lies with the "Salafi/Wahabis" which could be either independent of or related to Zarqawi/al-Qaeda in Iraq (which traces its origins to Wahabbi-inspired bin Laden). With this caveat I am still comfortable with the rest of my analysis of the consequences (which are largely supported by what Omar has written today.)

Whenever there is civil unrest there are power vacuums. This is especially true in Iraq since the new government has not yet been fully established.

The timing of the bombing of the al-Askariya Mosque was perfect for one of three scenarios:

1. The blast was planned by Sunni Baathists (ie. insurgent/terrorists) trying to destroy the formation of the Iraqi government and intitiate civil war between Shi'ite and Sunni so that they can step in and reclaim political power over the Sunni population.

2. The blast was planned by al-Qaeda (ie. Zarqawi) trying to destroy the formation of the Iraqi government and initiate civil war between Shi'ite and Sunni so that they can destroy the democratic movement and humiliate the United States, forcing them to withdraw in defeat.

3. The blast was planned by Muqtada al-Sadr (most likely in partnership with Abdul Aziz al-Hakim and in consultation with Iran) in order to: A. Cause civil war or unrest; B. Dethrone al-Sistani as Supreme leader of the Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq; and, C. Separate southern Iraq from the rest of the country and establish it as a Islamic Republic under sharia in alliance with Iran.

My personal guess is that the correct answer is hiding behind Door Number 3.

If true, then we have entered a new round of trouble with Iranian-allied Shi'ites being added to the Baathist insurgents and Zarqawi's al-Qaeda in Iraq in trying to bring the Iraqi experiment in democracy to an end.

These three groups are not working together. But they are each drawing upon the other to create an environment where they can attain their own particular goals.

Much of the Iraqi Security Forces have already been co-opted by former Baathist insurgents in central Iraq or the al-Sadr pro-Iranian Shi'ites in the south and in Shi'ite Baghdad. Under the cover of their status and uniforms they have been systematically adding to the terrorizing of personal enemies as well as leaders and supporters of their opposition.

The good news is that the vast majority of Shi'ites do not support al-Sadr; the vast majority of Sunni do not support the insurgents; and, the vast majority of everyone do not support al-Qaeda. What this means is that the vast majority of Iraqi's (although not, perhaps the Kurds who most likely would prefer semi- or complete autonomy from the rest of Iraq) really DO want to live together as one nation with a democratically-elected government operating under the legal boundaries set by a national constitution.

The corrupted government and Security Forces will need to be cleansed by an outraged population with the support of US forces in order for democracy and national unity to move forward.

Unfortunately, the passion, the organization and the power may well be shifting to minority militias like those operated by al-Sadr and, to a lesser degree, to the Baathist insurgents.

A worst case scenario would be the collapse of the new government, leaving Iraq in complete and total anarchy.

A more likely scenario would be a major setback in national security requiring government leaders to call on US military forces to join with those loyal to national unity in fighting and destroying al-Sadr and Hakim and their militias. This scenario would, in effect, be a proxy war with Iran, which has been supporting and arming these Shi'ite militias since the fall of Saddam.

I am quite sure that this Iranian/al-Sadr rebellion could be squelched but I am not sure that the United States congress and public opinion will be willing to join in taking sides in what will be characterized as a Iraqi civil war.

The truth will be, of course, that it is far less of a civil war and far more an attack upon Iraq by Iran.

It would be fatal if the United States did not hold its ground and stand in complete unity with those Iraqis who represent the majority of their people in preserving the unity of Iraq and driving out those who would steal the southern half of the country on behalf of Iran.

Dark days ahead. But days that will grow brighter should those who bombed the mosque be proven to have been associated with al-Sadr, Hakim and Iran. If this does prove to be true, they will have become completely discredited for having destroyed the second most holy shrine of the very Shi'a Islam that they pretend to be defending.