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Iraq: Using fire to fight fire
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Of course the downside of doing so is you may end up getting burned:
Iraq's government is studying a request from some local insurgent leaders to supply them with weapons so they can turn on the heavily armed foreign fighters who were once their allies, according to two Iraqi lawmakers.

Leaders claiming to represent about 11 insurgent groups asked for weapons to fight foreign al-Qaeda elements in Iraq, said Haider al-Ibadi, a Shiite lawmaker and member of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa Party.

"They want to take part in the war against terrorists," said al-Ibadi, who supports the proposal. "They claim they could wipe out the terrorists and work with the government."

The insurgent request was confirmed by al-Ibadi and Mithal al-Alusi, another lawmaker. Al-Maliki was out of the country, and several officials in his office declined to comment.
We're alternately told that the foreign fighters are a very small part of the problem and then that they're a large part of the violence in Iraq. I've always tended to believe the latter, that they are, given their supposed size, a disproportionately large part of the ongoing violence that Iraqis experience every day (that's because of the methods they use and the fact that they are targeting Iraqis).

So what to think of this proposal. On the "pro" side, if they were their previous allies, then it stands to reason they could be very useful in rooting this faction out. But does that require arming them? On the "con" side, that seems to be a move which could have some bad consequences down the road if the reconciliation talks break down.

Why not an compromise where these groups operate with the Iraqi government to kill the foreign fighters? They provide the intel and connections, the government provides the trigger pullers? Seems a much more reasonable alternative than arming and letting loose insurgents to fight insurgents.

Something else to be kept in mind: this is a preliminary offer by the insurgents. The PM, Al-Maliki was out of the country and his office declined comment.

One lawmaker, Mithal al-Alusi, summed it up best as far as I'm concerned:
Al-Alusi, an independent lawmaker, said when he heard that Sunni insurgents had asked for weapons to fight foreign groups, he advised al-Maliki against it. Al-Alusi said al-Maliki was considering it.

"We should stop creating militias," al-Alusi said. "We have too many political mafia groups in this country. Enough is enough."
I was equally interested in the US response:
The U.S. military said insurgent talks are an Iraqi matter.

Coalition forces would "fully support the broad dialogue for reconciliation" but would not discuss details, military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said in an e-mail.
I'm sure, however, advice is being offered, solicited or not. While I agree that "insurgent talks" are an Iraqi matter, there are also good ideas and bad ideas. In this case I come down on the side of Mithal al-Alusi's conclusion.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

waiting for the MK quagmire daily speech in .....

Ha, got here first joe.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
One wonders why they would need to be armed by Iraq.

Unless they are really asking for the authority to hunt down the terrorists.
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
My suggestion: "Sure you can help us hunt down those guys, the door to enlist in the Iraqi Army is right over there. Then we’ll give you all the guns and ammo you want. What do you mean that wasn’t what you had in mind?"
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
Giving these MORE guns would be a bad mistake,
BUT it is significant that they are talking, even if it is asking, "How stupid are you guys in the government?"
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I might hasten to add...Quagmire...War for Oil...We Can Not Win..Militias Supreme...Iran to Inherit...NeoCon Shame... Redeploy.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
DagGONE you Capt. Joe...I didn’t see the futility of my comments!
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I hope the Iraqi government views this as I do...wish suspicion. First question I’d ask is, "Why do you want to be rid of Al Qaeda?" That would help clear up any confusion concerning this. I’m with Jeff in that if they really want to rid Iraq of Al Aqeda they can simply join up with the Iraqi National Guard. Apart from that, I wonder if this is more of a sectarian thing (Sunnis vs. Shiites)
Written By: Joab

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