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Another reason to like Petraeus
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, July 28, 2007

From the Telegraph:
Relations between the top United States general in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki, the country's prime minister, are so bad that the Iraqi leader made a direct appeal for his removal to President George W Bush.

Although the call was rejected, aides to both men admit that Mr Maliki and Gen David Petraeus engage in frequent stand-up shouting matches, differing particularly over the US general's moves to arm Sunni tribesmen to fight al-Qa'eda.

One Iraqi source said Mr Maliki used a video conference with Mr Bush to call for the general's signature strategy to be scrapped. "He told Bush that if Petraeus continues, he would arm Shia militias," said the official. "Bush told Maliki to calm down."
I'm not sure the Telegraph has correctly identified the reason for the shouting matches. This is what LTG Odierno had to say about the subject of arming Sunnis:
I want to make one thing very clear: We are not arming these groups.

I have done — we just took a hard look at this, and the best I can tell, we armed 10 security detachment personnel for a mayor in one town because he was being threatened, and so we did give him 10 AK- 47s. Beyond that, we have not given weapons to any insurgents groups. They have plenty of weapons.

The point about reconciliation is, I want those weapons to be used against al Qaeda and not against coalition forces or Iraqi security forces. That's the point about reconciliation. These groups are reaching out to us and we are reaching back. They want to fight al Qaeda, and we think they can help us. And there's a few things that they have to do.

And finally, the key point is we want them, then, to connect them to the government of Iraq, and we will ultimately connect them to the government of Iraq. And that's when we'll have successful reconciliation. First, turn your weapons away from coalition-Iraqi security forces. Second, let's link them back into the government of Iraq and get them involved in the Iraqi security force structure. That's our goal with the reconciliation.

We have groups reaching out. We had a group that used to be part of the 1920 Revolutionary Brigade, who has helped us in Baqubah. We did not supply them with weapons. What did they do? They showed us in one area in one day 16 deep-buried IEDs — which protected our forces. And what did they want? They wanted us to help them to defeat al Qaeda in their neighborhoods.
The deal, as has been written about elsewhere, is the Sunnis must join the armed forces to become armed. If that's a problem for Maliki, he needs to find a new job. As Odierno points out, there are plenty of arms out there already in the hands of the Sunnis groups and tribes. His priority is to ensure they're pointed at AQI and not the CF.

Makes sense to me.

In fact this may be what the Telegraph actually meant, as reported by Ann Scott Tyson of the Washington Post:
The U.S. military in Iraq is expanding its efforts to recruit and fund armed Sunni residents as local protection forces in order to improve security and promote reconciliation at the neighborhood level, according to senior U.S. commanders.

Within the past month, the U.S. military command in charge of day-to-day operations in Iraq ordered subordinate units to step up creation of the local forces, authorizing commanders to pay the fighters with U.S. emergency funds, reward payments and other monies.

The initiative, which extends to all Iraqis, represents at least a temporary departure from the established U.S. policy of building formally trained security forces under the control of the Iraqi government. It also provokes fears within the Shiite-led government that the new Sunni groups will use their arms against it, commanders said.
It is that latter part which has Maliki "up in arms", excuse the poor pun. He's still dragging his feet in the reconciliation sphere and he this only demonstrates how poorly he has done his job. Reconciliation is apparently going to happen with our without him as the bottom-up scenario seems to be gathering steam. Of course when he loses control of that process, he loses power.

Petraeus, like any good problem solver, has found a way around Maliki's intransigence. And it seems to be paying off. Does it have risk? Of course. But not as much as not doing nothing which seems to be Maliki's plan.

Good for Petraeus. It's about time someone tried to light a fire under Maliki.
 
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Reconciliation is apparently going to happen with our without him as the bottom-up scenario seems to be gathering steam.
I hope this is true, but nothing in what you post suggest it is. I think Malaki, perhaps with reason, thinks this will set up a future Shi’ite - Sunni clash, with the Sunnis better armed. But what am I missing, where is there evidence that a Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation is coming "from below"?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"Bush told Maliki to calm down."

And finally, a reason to like Bush.
 
Written By: Vermin
URL: http://
I think Malaki, perhaps with reason, thinks this will set up a future Shi’ite - Sunni clash, with the Sunnis better armed.
Malaki probably does think that’s a possibility, and he may indeed be right. But the risk is a completely necessary one.

Look, either reconciliation has to happen at some point or these people will kill each other for an eternity. (Well, theoretically speaking, there’s also the possibility of one side getting wiped out, I suppose.)

I’m sure that, given his druthers, Malaki would keep the Sunnis down forever. But that’s not a long term answer, and he and the rest of the Shia are going to have to learn that. I know the Shi’ites feel completely justified because of the way they were treated under Saddam. But they have to realize it’s in their own best interests to put that behind them, because continuing to fight and die is worse than learning to accept an unjust past.

If both Shi’ite and Sunni learn to see the benefits of order and peace, they’re much more likely to reconcile and work together. So step one is to gain that order and peace. I’m very glad to see the Sunnis involved in that.

 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Let’s see. We made a big BIG deal about elections. Now that the elections are over, we are deliberately over-ruling the leader of the government and arming a political faction. Our "standing up" to the elected leader is seen here as progress.

This thinking is utterly insane and precisely backwards. This kind of thinking will do everything to strengthen Sadr and the militants and weaken the moderates. We show Maliki to be a weak tool of the Americans who can be over-ridden at our choice. We make a mockery of their electoral process.

Arming the Sunnis will get more Americans killed. AQI will press harder against the Americans in order to try to get this decision reversed and Shia radicals will get tired of Americans telling their leader how to run the country.

Oh, and the assurances that the Sunni will only fight AQI, and not turn against the Shia or other sects in the future? How are you planning on enforcing that promise?
 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
This kind of thinking will do everything to strengthen Sadr and the militants and weaken the moderates...
I’m not sure of your thinking here. We’re going after Sadr and the militias now. So how does this "strengthen them?" And the moderates, at least at the central government level, have accomplished exactly what?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
we are deliberately over-ruling the leader of the government and arming a political faction. Our "standing up" to the elected leader is seen here as progress.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but bull.

If you bother to go to the MNF-Iraq web site, the number of Iraqi neighborhood watch groups who are turning in (and even catching and getting rid of these thugs who have been terrorizing them) is really encouraging. This is Petraeus.

We have replaced almost 70% of the corrupt Iraqi police over the last few months - we are trying to get rid of the ones who have been secretly terrorizing the Iraqis from positions of power. But we can’t be everywhere. These people need to be able to defend themselves and anyone in government needs to know they aren’t going to get away with BREAKING THE LAW.

This isn’t undermining Maliki, it is supporting what he has publicly said he is committed to do - enforce the law in an evenhanded manner and get rid of sectarianism. The only people who have anything to worry about are the jerks who are still trying to topple the Iraqi government. And *that* isn’t in Maliki’s long term interest either.

Maliki is between a rock and a hard place - he can’t come out publicly and be as ruthless as he might like to (or not, who knows). But the bottom line is that if the security situation doesn’t get better, he is toast. And he’s a fool if he doesn’t see that.
 
Written By: Cassandra
URL: http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog
Francis, you’re one of the loyal opposition that I rarely agree with but always appreciated your integrity. I don’t know that this is the case but you are not one of those that said we need benchmarks and need to hold Maliki to them are you?
BIDEN : Well, what we do — remember when the president made that secret trip over and they met with him, and I remember I was on a sister show of yours, and they showed me a picture of the president whispering in Maliki’s ear, and they said, "What do you think of this?"
I said, "It depends on what he’s whispering in his ear. If he’s whispering in her ear, ’We support you,’ we’re in trouble. If the president’s whispering in Maliki’s ear, ’Look, Jack, let’s get something straight here. I’m serious, I’m not joking, you’ve got to deal with the militia, and you’ve got to give the Sunnis a piece of the action in terms of the oil revenue, so there’s a political solution here. Absent that, you’re in trouble.’"
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
This is not an easy call.

I mean, on a lot of levels, cheers. It’s good for US security that we can work with local Sunnis to hunt Al-Quieda. We don’t need 150,000 troops in Iraq, nor a mission of "fixing Iraq" in order to do that, either.


Also, sure, Petraeus needs to work with local Sunnis to earn their trust and have a hope in heck of being some form of broker in some form of reconciliation. Petraeus can’t not do what he’s doing. I was arguing for this type of move during the aborted amnesty of 2005, which has been quietly de facto reinstated without ever calling it that.

However, this demonstrates how seriously flawed the idea of reconciliation is. Maliki’s not "going to find a new job". He’s the elected prime minister of Iraq. His successor in the wings is Al-Sadr, who hates Sunnis less than he does but Americans more. The elected PM of Iraq absolutely does want to keep a boot on the necks of Sunnis. And if you listen to the insurgent groups that aren’t currently cooperating with the US - the 95% of attacks still happening that are not Al-Queda - their starting point for negotiations with the likes of Maliki is the repeal of all political structures since 2003.

This shows Petraeus following a thread of rationality in an ocean of dysfunction. Which is great, if you want me to sign something saying "Petraeus is a great guy", but not great for "victory is at hand".

This piece doesn’t demonstrate that bottom-up reconciliation among Iraqis is right around the corner. It demonstrates that Shiites hate it when we work with Sunnis, but that Sunnis are willing to cooperate with the US military. The Iraqi government sucks, but it’s a power brokers. And the powerbrokers are not on message or anything close to it.

Unless we plan to shut the government down and start over again.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
This piece doesn’t demonstrate that bottom-up reconciliation among Iraqis is right around the corner.
I don’t think anyone is claiming it is. However it does demonstrate that it is happening and, at least at the moment, it is driving the reconciliation process. Petraeus, unlike Maliki, is embracing it and working to ensure it remains headed in a positive direction. I don’t blame him for that.

As for Malaki, I can imagine a time when what he has to say or not say about that process might become moot. I’m not at all sure that wouldn’t be a "good thing".
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
We don’t need 150,000 troops in Iraq, nor a mission of "fixing Iraq" in order to do that, either.
We do if the entire exercise is to have durable strategic meaning. You aren’t looking past the muzzle of a P.B.I.’s rifle.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Per Heinlein, Poor Bloody Infantryman.
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://tomdperkins.blogspot.com/
So the US is reconciling with the Sunnis, it’s not a Shi’ite - Sunni reconciliation? OK, though that may or may not be good news in the long run. We need to see Sunni-Shi’ite reconciliation.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
We do need to see a Sunni-Shiite reconciliation.

Part of that, really, is modeling our culture and values. It’s not that regular folks in Iraq don’t get along. There are mixed neighborhoods and all of that. But there are extremists on both sides and there most certainly is a cultural history of the group in power oppressing those who aren’t in power.

That, in a nutshell, is why democracy doesn’t work very well in a whole lot of places in the world. There is nothing good about majority rule if the minority can expect retaliation. It has to be paired with equality under the law. This isn’t optional.

For any country to transition to democracy, losing an election has to be acceptable. People have to know that they will be treated fairly even if their side of things isn’t in power.

The *democracy* in Iraq can be quite different from our own and pass laws and have opinions that we don’t much care for. That’s fine and good. The thing that isn’t optional is on the law side of things. The law has to apply equally to people like Sadr as it does to Sunni militants. Sunni groups have to be accepted equally even if there is a risk or the "majority" doesn’t like it. We need to be there modeling the behavior. If we can work with those people who were previously fighting us, then the Shia can figure out how to do it too.
 
Written By: Synova
URL: http://synova.blogspot.com
Part of that, really, is modeling our culture and values. It’s not that regular folks in Iraq don’t get along. There are mixed neighborhoods and all of that. But there are extremists on both sides and there most certainly is a cultural history of the group in power oppressing those who aren’t in power.
As seen in Saudi and Iran which are states based on the undeniable "Law of God" as practiced under Sunni and Shia Islam respectively.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/

 
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