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ISG vs. reality
Posted by: McQ on Friday, December 01, 2006

The leaks coming out of the Iraq Study Group point to an unsurprising recommendation and one, I'd feel safe in saying, which almost everyone expected:
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group plans to recommend withdrawing nearly all U.S. combat units from Iraq by early 2008 while leaving behind troops to train, advise and support the Iraqis, setting the first goal for a major drawdown of U.S. forces, sources familiar with the proposal said yesterday.

The commission plan would shift the U.S. mission in Iraq to a secondary role as the fragile Baghdad government and its security forces take the lead in fighting a Sunni insurgency and trying to halt sectarian violence. As part of major changes in the U.S. presence, sources said, the plan recommends embedding U.S. soldiers directly in Iraqi security units starting as early as next month to improve leadership and effectiveness.
As if reading off the same cue card, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki seemed to favor an even more aggressive transition:
Maliki, too, signaled that he would be receptive to such a transition in six months. "I can say that Iraqi forces will be ready, fully ready, to receive this command and to command its own forces. And I can tell you that, by next June, our forces will be ready," he told ABC News.
Well great you say ... it looks like Iraq will solve it's own problems and everything will be fine (just in time for the '08 presidential elections).

While the ISG news was being trumpeted on page 1 of the Washington Post, quietly buried on page A23 of the Post's November 29th edition was this little bomb shell from Nawaf Obaid, an advisor to the Saudi Government and managing director of the Saudi National Security Assessment Project in Riyadh. The Post is careful to point out that Obaid's opinions are "his own" and do not reflect "official Saudi policy".

Of course, for anyone who understands this game, it means Obaid can be brutally frank about things without there being any diplomatic repercussions for Saudi Arabia. But if you think Obaid is just popping off without the knowledge or approval of Saudi Arabia's government, at least at some level, you're naive.

Obaid reviews the fact that for the past few years, a veritable "chorus of voices" has been calling for the SA government to help protect the Sunni minority and "thwart the influence" of Iran. But good King Abdulla, a loyal friend of the US, wouldn't because "he gave Bush his word that he wouldn't meddle in Iraq", not to mention the fact that he couldn't guarantee that Saudi-funded Sunni militias wouldn't attack the US military.

That was then, but the talk of the withdrawal of US forces without ensuring the adequate protection of the minority Sunni population has Saudi Arabia completely rethinking that position now.
Options now include providing Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance — funding, arms and logistical support — that Iran has been giving to Shiite armed groups for years.
If you don't think what is going on now isn't a civil war, you can be assured, should SA exercise this option, there would be no doubt. And possibly more.

Option two:
Another possibility includes the establishment of new Sunni brigades to combat the Iranian-backed militias.
Same outcome. Note that SA recognizes completely which nation it is who is the real culprit in Iraqs continuing turmoil. And that brings us to option three:
Finally, Abdullah may decide to strangle Iranian funding of the militias through oil policy. If Saudi Arabia boosted production and cut the price of oil in half, the kingdom could still finance its current spending. But it would be devastating to Iran, which is facing economic difficulties even with today's high prices. The result would be to limit Tehran's ability to continue funneling hundreds of millions each year to Shiite militias in Iraq and elsewhere.
A gas war. Any of the three exercised options, however, would have far greater ramifications than just civil war in Iraq. As should be obvious, their exercise could spark a regional conflict. There is no question that Saudi Arabia and Iran would eventually be drawn into direct conflict. And at that point, others could join in as well. Obaid hopes this won't happen and the US will heed the advice of Saudi Arabia and delay any withdrawals until the situation is stabilized and the Sunni minority protected. If not, the warning explicit in Obaid's concluding words is pretty ominous concerning peace in the region:
There is reason to believe that the Bush administration, despite domestic pressure, will heed Saudi Arabia's advice. Vice President Cheney's visit to Riyadh last week to discuss the situation (there were no other stops on his marathon journey) underlines the preeminence of Saudi Arabia in the region and its importance to U.S. strategy in Iraq. But if a phased troop withdrawal does begin, the violence will escalate dramatically.

In this case, remaining on the sidelines would be unacceptable to Saudi Arabia. To turn a blind eye to the massacre of Iraqi Sunnis would be to abandon the principles upon which the kingdom was founded. It would undermine Saudi Arabia's credibility in the Sunni world and would be a capitulation to Iran's militarist actions in the region.
The point, of course, is the withdrawal of US forces is very complex issue with vast ramifications which have to be considered very closely before just yanking them out of Iraq because a portion of our population is tired of the war. Should we pull out without satisfying SA's requirements for the Sunni minority all hell could break loose in the Middle East and, unfortunately, we'd probably find ourselves right back in the thick of it but in a much wider and more lethal conflict. My guess is that isn't something anyone wants, war opponent or war proponent alike.

It just isn't as simple as the ISG planned withdrawal.
 
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If you don’t think what is going on now isn’t a civil war,


Minor quibble amongst all the weightier stuff, but it’s really not a civil war. It’s a proxy war being fought by various sides right now, including some states and some stateless players. You can make the case that the real combatants in Iraq are Iran vs the U.S.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Yikes.
 
Written By: Mithras
URL: http://mithrastheprophet.blogspot.com
Yep, the Bush administration has two options:

1) Withdraw US troops while minimalizing destabilization, broker a political consensus inside Iraq, and broker a regional agreement with Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia; or

2) Stay the course and pass the buck to the next administration.

Gee, I wonder which one they’ll choose.
 
Written By: Geek, Esq.
URL: http://
Finally, Abdullah may decide to strangle Iranian funding of the militias through oil policy. If Saudi Arabia boosted production and cut the price of oil in half, the kingdom could still finance its current spending.
I missed the part where that is bad for us.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
I missed the part where that is bad for us.
Of course, short term it wouldn’t be, if we judge the world only by the price of gas at the pump. But if it explodes the entire middle east into a war, a) that price won’t remain low as supplies will likely be impacted, and b) we’ll most likely become involved militarily.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
And guess who will back who in a regional war between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Care to draw up the list of team members on the opposing teams?

Proxies should be counted and don’t forget the nukes.

Yikes indeed.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Finally, Abdullah may decide to strangle Iranian funding of the militias through oil policy. If Saudi Arabia boosted production and cut the price of oil in half, the kingdom could still finance its current spending.
From what I’ve read, including industry-sourced indepth articles during the price spike last year, Saudi Arabia is bluffing here. They’re running at maximum capacity and couldn’t boost production if they wanted to.

Furthermore, for Saudi Arabia (not to mention every other oil-producing nation in the world, this has to be described as a "Samson" option.) Domestic instability across the whole region would explode. SA would not be immune, and I openly disbelieve they would do this.

As for the idea that we can’t draw down because SA would draw up, that’s not serious. SA’s atttitude isn’t what I’d call helpful, but we own that kingdom. Their military supply chain is a house of cards where we own the bottom cards. Frankly, I believe that we’ve encouraged SA to make these threats to give Bush excuses not to draw down.

Not that SA doesn’t think it means what it’s saying. But frankly, it’s relevance isn’t really that large. If the US can’t stop the Sunni minority in Iran from being bulldozed - and we can’t - the Saudi Arabia definitely can’t stop it, at least not without reaching a deal with Iran.

The bottom line is that SA’s capacity to escalate things further than they already have is pretty illusory, unless they want to start running air raids, bombing Iran. And they don’t.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
One thing that is overlooked here is the fanatical hatred that the Salafists have for Shiites. Salafists pretty much own the populace (if not necessarily the ruling family) of Saudi Arabia. Any type of deal reached between Saudi Arabia and Iran would cause rioting in the streets. Any concession to Iraqi Shiites by Saudi Arabia will cause rioting in the streets. Shiites and Salafists do not work and play well together. They are pretty content with the idea of exterminating the other. Any consideration of Saudi actions relating to Iran or the Iraqi Shiite population has to take this factor into account.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Glasnost,

That may be true in a world where everyone operates according to their own narrow interests rationally calculated (at least your version of rational calculation.) That world does not exist. These states have made ridiculously stupid moves repeatedly, and Saudi Arabia may feel they have no choice. Why? Because they may feel Iran will press the issue until they are in conflict anyway, so why wait and allow the Iranians to shape the ideological, political and military battlespace. Moreover, in the short run I can see no reason why they couldn’t arm and equip their own proxies. To an extent they already are. are they wrong about Iran, I can see no reason to think so.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
Actually, Geek, they have a third option: really start fighting a war with both Iran and Syria. That includes a full blockade of Iran, and area bombing raids on any city identified as even possibly harboring nuclear weapon development.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
Same outcome. Note that SA recognizes completely which nation it is who is the real culprit in Iraqs continuing turmoil.
Back in 2004/2005 when the bombs started going off in Shia mosques, Shia marketplaces and Shia queues for the civil service it was not the work of Iran. Al Zarqawi led salafist Sunni terror squads killed hundreds of unarmed civilians. Killed by Al Qaeda - a mysterious organization, extremely well funded from someplace preaches Salafist doctrine with no ties at all the good King who rules the extremely rich Salafist heartland.
Options now include providing Sunni military leaders (primarily ex-Baathist members of the former Iraqi officer corps, who make up the backbone of the insurgency) with the same types of assistance — funding, arms and logistical support — that Iran has been giving to Shiite armed groups for years.
Another possibility includes the establishment of new Sunni brigades to combat the Iranian-backed militias.
Thus changing the situation in what way? In case it has escaped your notice there has been foreign invlovement in Sunni terror squads for years now.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/

 
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