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The Battle of Basra - Take Two
Posted by: McQ on Thursday, April 10, 2008

Amir Taheri has an entirely different understanding of how the battle of Basra actually unfolded. He reports it was an Iranian bid, planned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force to take Basra. Their plan was based on three rather arrogant assumptions:
* Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wouldn't have the courage to defend Basra at the risk of burning his bridges with the Islamic Republic in Iran.

* The international force would be in no position to intervene in the Basra battle. The British, who controlled Basra until last December, had no desire to return, especially if this meant getting involved in fighting. The Americans, meanwhile, never had enough troops to finish off al-Qaeda-in-Iraq, let alone fight Iran and its local militias on a new front.

* The Shiite clerical leadership in Najaf would oppose intervention by the new Iraqi security forces in a battle that could lead to heavy Shiite casualties.
As it turns out, they were wrong on all three counts and that is not a good way to start a battle.

The Iranians had apparently spent vast sums of money over earlier months to turn local police, asking them to change sides or stay on the side-lines. As we know, that happened.

To the particulars:
To seize control of Basra, Quds commanders used units known as Special Groups. These consist of individuals recruited from among the estimated 1.8 million Iraqi refugees who spent more than two decades in Iran during Saddam Hussein's reign. They returned to Iraq shortly after Saddam's fall and started to act as liaisons between Quds and local Shiite militias.

In last month's operation, Quds commanders used the name and insignia of the Mahdi Army, a militia originally created by the maverick cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, as a cover for the Special Groups.

Initially, Quds commanders appeared to have won their bet. Their Special Groups and Mahdi Army allies easily seized control of key areas of Basra when more than 500 Iraqi security personnel abandoned their positions and disappeared into the woodwork.
And, per Taheri, this battle was supposed to trigger a massive Shiite uprising spreading from Baghdad to Basra through cities such as Karbala, Kut and al-Amarah.

But that's where it began to go wrong. The massive uprising never materialized and ISF forces maintained control in all of those cities.

And then the totally unexpected happened. Maliki actually took action to clear the city of these "criminal" elements as requested by the leaders of Basra. Obviously the ISF then did something totally unanticipated by the Iranians (an intel failure on their part):
Only a year ago, the ISF had been unable to provide three brigades (some 9,000 men) to help the US-led "surge" restore security in Baghdad. This time, the ISF had no difficulty deploying 15 brigades (30,000 men) for the battle of Basra.

Led by Gen. Mohan al-Freiji, the Iraqi force sent to Basra was the largest that the ISF had put together since its creation five years ago. This was the first time that the ISF was in charge of a major operation from start to finish and was fighting a large, well-armed adversary without US advisers.
But somehow, to some, that's not "progress". And yes, they did ask for and receive US and British help - but only in a combat support role:
During the Basra battles, the ISF did call on British and US forces to provide some firepower, especially via air strikes against enemy positions. But, in another first, the ISF used its own aircraft to transport troops and materiel and relied on its own communication system.
The ISF isn't configured for an expeditionary role, so it doesn't have the joint combat multipliers available to it as a part of a deployment package like we do. Consequently it asked for the help it needed to give it that expeditionary punch needed for the operation. But the Basra operation does point to an Iraqi need for their own internal assets of this sort.

As this was starting to really ball up into a hot fight, the last assumption the Iranians had made was found to be incorrect. They were sure the Najaf ayatollahs would issue a call to stop "Shiite fratricide". But they didn't. In fact, they tacitly supported the government of Iraq. And that argues strongly that they do not support what Iran is doing in Iraq.

Says Taheri:
After more than a week of fighting, the Iraqis forced the Quds commanders to call for a cease-fire through Sadr. The Iraqi commander agreed - provided that the Quds force directly guaranteed it. To highlight Iran's role in the episode, he insisted that the Quds force dispatch a senior commander to finalize the accord.

The Iran-backed side lost more than 600 men, with more than 1,000 injured. The ISF lost 88 dead and 122 wounded.

Some analysts suggest this was the first war between new Iraq and the Islamic Republic. If so, the Iraqis won.
But to hear it told here, Iraq's Tet saw Sadr "win" when in fact, as Neo points out, Sadr was basically standing on the sidelines.

Interesting ... we'll see if this all turns out to be accurate, but it certainly provides and entirely different take on the whole affair, doesn't it?

As I said previously, the bottom line is the ISF is in control of the city - regardless of who started what or why. Where I come from whoever controls the city is the "winner".

Taheri concludes:
Tehran tried to test the waters in Basra and, as an opportunist power, would've annexed southern Iraq under a quisling administration had that been attainable at a low cost. Once it became clear that the cost might be higher than the Quds force expected, Tehran opted to back down.

Yet this was just the first round. The struggle for Iraq isn't over.
(HT: Neo)
_________

Linked by Instapundit, Irons in the Fire and Pajamas Media- Thanks!
 
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I have plenty of leftwing sources that say you’re wrong and that Malaki lost and Sadr won and it was just like Tet, and it all goes to prove that we should get out now. Of course, I’m willing to listen to evidence to the contrary. But none of this Taheri stuff, of course. It’s not credible - Juan Cole is obviously a much better source. Why, you would need about a thousand Taheris to equal one Cole. Maybe a million.

So find me some acceptable sources, McQ. Or just admit that Iraq is a total failure, and that I’m one of the smartest men on the planet for seeing it way before any of dense righties. And while you’re at it, admit that Jimmy Carter is a genius and John Kerry is a great man and the Swift Boat guys are liars.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
This is obviously wrong. As mkultra already proved, Maliki is the real agent of the Iranians.

We’ve been bushwacked, and we don’t even know it.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Taheri has had a tendancy to propagandize, and there are many reasons to doubt this story, not the least of which is how the Iranian-backed Badr brigades supported Maliki. Moreover, Sadr early on tried to calm things down, and such a move really doesn’t follow Iranian policy and interests. I’d need to see more reasons why Taheri thinks this happens — it looks more like a spin job to me. Taheri doesn’t exactly have a reputation of objectivity!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The ISF isn’t configured for an expeditionary role, so it doesn’t have the joint combat multipliers available to it as a part of a deployment package like we do. Consequently it asked for the help it needed to give it that expeditionary punch needed for the operation. But the Basra operation does point to an Iraqi need for their own internal assets of this sort.
They need some attack capability in their airforce, as much for this as to scare the neighbours. It will be interesting to see who gets the orders. Cheaper and familiar Russian tech of Saddam era (like for the army) or something more compatible to the American and British planes they’ll be flying with.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
Taheri has had a tendancy to propagandize,
said the pot to the kettle


oh, and for a PhD, your grammar sucks. I hope your editors are english majors.
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
Everyone knows Juan Cole has had a tendancy to propagandize. There are many reasons to doubt his take on the affair, not the least of which is how Iran somehow came out ahead in this exchange when they clearly lost far more troops than the Malicki government forces did. Moreover, Sadr lost considerable face because once again he stood in the protective arm of his Iranian masters well clear of any part of the conflict. I’d need to see more reasons why Cole thinks this is a win for Sadr when all other aspects point to a decisive defeat for Iran - it looks more like a spin job to me. Juan Cole doesn’t exactly have a reputation of objectivity!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Joel:
said the pot to the kettle
The pot-kettle aspect doesn’t even scratch the skin of the pathology.

You don’t see stuff like this, very often, outside of clusters of totalitarian apparats, psychiatric wards, and courtrooms.

Behold the Soviet ghost in the university machine.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Arrogance
Main Entry: ar·ro·gance
Pronunciation: \ˈer-ə-gən(t)s, ˈa-rə-\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions - See Erb.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
If you opposed Saddam during the 80’s, you were pretty much Iranian backed since there were not many other choices for refuge and support. Groups getting Iranian support then included the Badr brigade, the Kurds, and Sadr. You know the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan were also Iranian-backed.

This does not mean that those groups are Iranian-controlled now, or even still that friendly with Iran. I believe the Badr militia is pretty much dismantled, as they essentially joined the Iraqi army. I also have to wonder how they feel about Iran supporting Sadr (their rival militia) and also Al Qaeda.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
believe the Badr militia is pretty much dismantled, as they essentially joined the Iraqi army.
Or, perhaps, they are simply acting as a militia with official backing form the government — sort of like the post-WWI Freikorps in Germany.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Taheri has had a tendancy to propagandize, and there are many reasons to doubt this story, not the least of which is because it goes against my own interpretation, which is informed by my godlike powers of political science. Moreover, Sadr early on tried to calm things down, and such a move really doesn’t follow Iranian policy and interests, for reasons I can’t really explain right now because, uh, I have to grade some papers. I’d need to see more reasons why Taheri thinks this happens — it looks more like a spin job to me. Of course, I can’t really dispute a single point he makes, since he’s got pretty good sources, and his points sound pretty solid, but stiil, Taheri doesn’t exactly have a reputation of objectivity! He’s clearly not left wing enough for that!

Now of course, I’m constantly claiming that people don’t answer my points, and golly, here I am doing the exact same thing. But that’s because I possess godlike powers of political science, so I’m allowed to require a level of argument from others that I don’t have to satisfy. Thank goodness.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://cluelessprof.maine.edu
This does not mean that those groups are Iranian-controlled now,
As I hear it, Mookie was dumped by the Iranian mullahs last year, and his militia was split into parts and continued under the animation of Iranian mullah will, but that the mullahs pretty much don’t have a grip on anything at this point.

The Arab nationalism of the Iraqi Shi’a is much stronger than their affinity toward Iran, and the greatest Shi’a religious sites are inside Iraq, giving additional pride of place to Iraqi Shi’a. The question therefore arises as to just who is using whom.

With the Iraqi Sunni reasonably coming to know their place and the fact that there is substantial intermarriage in Iraq between the two major factions, significant interruption of Iranian mullah will is at hand.

Plus, that all fits well into the West’s desire (whence the big money is to be retrieved) to see Iraq as a functioning sovereign society, with Saddam-incurred debts forbidden, oil revenues pulsing into tribal coffers, and Rodney King preaching the true gospel of everyone getting along.

And then there’s the getting dead horribly thing getting old.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
I wonder if Prof. Erb questions Tahiri’s casualty figures as well.

 
Written By: vnjagvet
URL: http://www.yargb.blogspot.com
Incoming Instalanche!
 
Written By: John
URL: http://

This does not mean that those groups are Iranian-controlled now, or even still that friendly with Iran. I believe the Badr militia is pretty much dismantled, as they essentially joined the Iraqi army.

http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2008/04/round-and-round.html

Folks, large number of Iraqi folks under SCIRI are still recieving pensions from the Iran Qods Force. I find that fact sort of hard to reconcile with this vast image of an Iranian conspiracy against the Iraqi Army that starts with an aggressive Iraqi Army operation against Al-Sadr that the Iranians have - according to you all - no control over. The Iranians are paying for the Iraqi Army. It’s hard to come up with clearer links than that.

Or, to put it another way, Amir Taheri is a bullsh*t artist who has constructed the single most fantasy-fulfilling version of this series of events as could be possible for you - allowing you to paint the Iraqi Army as loyal defenders of good and pure and the Sadrites as Iranian tools - and you’re lapping it up.

And it has nothing to do with who Taheri is, and everything to do with his fabrication of stories wildly contradictive to the available evidence.

If you opposed Saddam during the 80’s, you were pretty much Iranian backed since there were not many other choices for refuge and support. Groups getting Iranian support then included the Badr brigade

Harun - as someone here at least attempting to look at the situation logically, rather than as a masturbation fetish - try to come up with a reason *why* SCIRI and Badr would be falling out with Iran. They worked with them for decades. Hell, Iran created their organization out of nothing. They used Iran’s methods for propaganda and terror operations - it’s certainly not a moral differentiation. Iran still offers them whatever they want, sees the Sunnis as dangerous scum just like they do, and they have repeatedly tried to broker peace between Iran and the US.

And after you come up with some kind of valid logic, try coming up with some .. evidence. All the empirical evidence I see demonstrates continuing comfort and cooperation with the Iranians.

I mean, Occam’s razor, for Pete’s sake. SCIRI and Badr had a great chance to show how anti-Iranian they were by, oh I don’t know, refusing to have their negotiations with Sadr mediated by the head of the Qods Force. But he was a natural chief mediator. Why? Because he’s on such good terms with everyone. Or do you have a better suggestion?

I spent a few minutes looking for the quotes from the US Army I’ve read in the last month speaking of Badr as a current, not past, organization, but I’m quitting in disgust. But here’s a hint, folks. Read the godd*mn Petraeus hearings from this very week. Several senators go into detail about the IA and IP’s ties to Iran, and Petraeus/Crocker make no attempt to dispute their facts.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0917/p01s08-wome.htm

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2008/03/who-are-the-ira.html

Ha! I wanted to give up, but I hate the fuc*ing bullsh*t you people spew on here so badly, I kept looking. Here’s Barry Mcafferey, US Army General, regularly featured on this very site:

http://armedservices.house.gov/pdfs/OI011608/McCaffrey_Testimony011608.pdf

Claiming that Sadr is not a tool of Iran, but that the South of Iraq is dominated by the "Iran-affiliated" Badr Brigades. His words, not mine. Page 8.

And here’s Anthony fuc*ing Cordesman, in a report from 2007. Do a keyword search for "Badr" and find multiple refrences to the Badr’s as a current, active, living thing, heavily affiliated with the Iraqi Army and as an independent organization, and acknowledging heavy Iranian influence. Anthony Cordesman works for CSIS, a right-leaning but accuracy-oriented think tank, and one of the most respected civilian analysts in the country.

http://www.csis.org/media/csis/pubs/070426_iraqiforces_rev.pdf

Listening to tools like these people for years is why you and the Bush Adminisration believed wildly innaccurate cr*p about the insurgency for most of its existance.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Tehran tried to test the waters in Basra and, as an opportunist power, would’ve annexed southern Iraq under a quisling administration had that been attainable at a low cost. Once it became clear that the cost might be higher than the Quds force expected, Tehran opted to back down.

My God, it’s enough to make me think that Amir Taheri is Working for the Iranians.

YOU FUC*ING TOOL, YOUR PALS IN SCIRI/BADR ARE THE ONES THAT WANT TO HAVE SOUTHERN IRAQ SPLIT OFF INTO A QUISLING ADMINISTRATION, NOT THE SADRITES! ANY GUESSES WHY??

And they’ll get it done, too. With our help.

http://www.defenselink.mil/home/pdf/9010_March_2007_Final_Signed.pdf

The US Department of Defense. Page 18. Amir Taheri is wrong about everything.

You think they want to do this so they can be more independent of Iran? mm? mm. Yeah, I like how that one sounds. That one sounds nice and believeable. I’ll wait for Amir Taheri to bring that one up.

Hell, what do I care? Amir Taheri is the one that thinks an iranian-dominated southern Iraq is going to be world nuclear armageddon, not me. I don’t give a f*ck one way or the other. So what do I hate about it so much, then, I ask myself? I must just hate to see people making sh*t up when lives are on the line. US soldiers and Iraqis have died listening to fools like this d*ck.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
The fact that the fighting in Basra required close air support and possibly also interdiction strikes does not signal a short war. Building an effective land force is difficult enough, but support several wings of fighters and light attack aircraft will be a long term activity. If the Iraqis have some trained MIG and SU drivers, I’m sure Putin would be happy to sell them some aircraft.

If I were Maliki, I would start looking at advanced jet trainers (AJT) with simple ground attack and air-to-air capabilities and, for political reasons, I would stay away from US manufactured equipment. Aermacchi builds a fine AJT in the M346. For a bit more money, BAE SYSTEMS builds the Hawk AJT. There are three advantages to AJTs. First, they are fairly cheap and easy to operate and maintain. Second, they are war birds. Third, their systems are configurable to mimic other more sophisticated aircraft that cost a lot more to operate.

For CAS, they might want to buy Mi24 Hinds from Russia. They won’t win any beauty contests, but neither did the F4. Regardless of choice of rotorcraft, they will need flare dispensers to prevent this. [Look at 1:58 for the shot.]

I see US air defense and ground attack (perhaps nuclear) alert facilities in Iraq if the Iranians do not knock of these incursions.









 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
glas, minus the profanity and the hyperbole ("Amir Taheri is wrong about everything."), I think you raise some pretty good points. I suspect some of the effects you note are important.

But they’re not the only effects. Depending on just them for a conclusion is the same class of error as the static analysis Congressmen do when they say "Let’s raise taxes twenty percent. We’ll get twenty percent more revenue!" The real situation is dynamic, with many factors that play off against one another.

Tribabism, religion, and nationalism are all parts of the swirling mix of motivations of the players. But a dynamic analysis also takes into account the attraction Iraqis have to better, more open, more stable lives. The longer they experience such conditions, the more they will balance those factors against more historical ones. Plus, some of the historical factors oppose one another and cancel each other out.

Consider an example: many of the deserters in this last episode, if I understand the reports, deserted for a five hundred dollar bribe. So they’re obviously susceptible to economic incentives, even fairly low dollar ones. If the economy can general similar or better incentives, then the Iran-free status quo starts to gain support and respectability.

McQ wrapped it up pretty well a few topics back:
I agree with Ryan Crocker’s assessment that while success in Iraq isn’t guaranteed, it is now at least possible. Whether you are a supporter of the war or not, whether you were for it from the beginning or not, the fact is we’re there, we have a situation to remedy and the faster we remedy it, the faster we can get out of there. You’d think that would be something everyone could get behind.
As such, looking at one set of factors and claiming that those make any chance of success impossible is selling the situation short. There are plenty of factors, good and bad. But I think that, given stability, time is on our side in promoting the good factors and diminishing the bad.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Thanks, Billy. I’m not addressing your larger point because I think it’s arguing with arguments I’m not making at the moment. My post isn’t saying anything about Iraq’s future overall. It’s just saying that Amir Taheri’s story is pathologically ignorant, to the point that it makes me wildly angry, and then wildly depressed, that a person like Q, who is not stupid and not a complete hack, at least not on purpose, could put it up on the front page.

My expectations for the human species as a whole, and everyone in it specifically, are way too high. It’s not good for me (or them, I suppose) to come here and get this angry at people. Everyone on earth believes in many things that are wildly inaccurate, no two sets of inaccuracies alike and the world keeps running anyway, so I need to chill out.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Pat Buchanan has an interesting piece about Petraeus’ testimony re:Iran.

There is an interesting exchange between Petraeus and Senator Lieberman:

Are Iranians then murdering Americans, asked Joe Lieberman:

"Is it fair to say that the Iranian-backed special groups in Iraq are responsible for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians?"

"It certainly is. ... That is correct," said Petraeus.

The following day, Petraeus told the House Armed Services Committee, "Unchecked, the ’special groups’ pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq."

Here comes the air war.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
glasnost:
spew
Incoherency pretending to be an argument. ("I’m just too well-informed to be bothered making sense, don’t you know!")

With the added hand-waving of leaving the supporting cites un-linked.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Arch:
Here comes the air war.
Well, the whole point here, in my opinion, is to get at the strategic targets—the nuclear facilities.

Doing "training camps" without getting at the strategic threat to the region would be pointless, in my opinion. Why take it half way?

The crossover from the strictly Iraqi mission to the Iranian nuclear matter is not a problem if it’s clear that this never was a strictly Iraqi mission.

I think that just as it took us a good while to figure out who all of the customers in the bar were in Iraq, it’s taken a while for us to fully grasp how the Iranians have played their cards.

The price of oil could be going up.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Also, the key player in unburdening Iran of its nuclear weapons program is Putin.

I believe that he thinks the mullahs are nuts and shouldn’t have nukes, and he also didn’t say anything out loud, that I recall, about the not-so-secret secret mission by the Israelis to take out weapons facilities in Syria a few months back.

Bush and Putin just had a get together a few days ago, before the Petraeus testimony, and Bush is known for not liking to take ’no’ for an answer.

If Putin asked him what’s in it for me? Bush could have told him that he could either be on the bus or off the bus, or maybe just handle it in the aftermath with feint damnation. And then console the mullahs, as a sort of brother, who understands.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Well, the whole point here, in my opinion, is to get at the strategic targets—the nuclear facilities.
Whoa, Nelly. We went from internal security issues regarding the recent Basra/Baghdad operations to preemptive strikes on possible nuclear facilities? Slow down here a moment.

Arch made a good point regarding the Iraqis dependence upon the US for the kind of support in the Basra operation it currently lacks - air power. The Malicki government requested air support during the operation and, as I understand it, could have stood completely on their own save that aspect.

Tactical air power in support of ground forces is an infrastructure deficiency that is not an overnight fix. You cannot throw together a few airplanes with a few pilots and strap on a few bombs and call it an Air Force. Arch’s point is a good one and one that I hope is in the long term cards for the future Iraqi defense structure - but for now, his point holds true that our own Air Force assets will have to be made available to the Iraqis for self-defense, anti-insurgent, and anti-incursion purposes until that capability can be realized. Pre-emptive strikes on Iran is a whole ’nother topic.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Glasnost, so sorry that Iraq is improving and messing with your political success in November.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
SShiell:
Whoa, Nelly. We went from internal security issues regarding the recent Basra/Baghdad operations to preemptive strikes on possible nuclear facilities? Slow down here a moment.
That was the topic of Arch’s earlier post. I was responding to the latter one with his link to Buchanan’s column on going directly into Iran, based on Pat’s interpretation of Petraeus’s exchange with Joe Lieberman. My point was that if the U.S. begins air strikes in Iran, that by putting that much on the line already it would be a halfway measure not to take out the strategic targets.

I should add that I’ve been a proponent of destoying their nuclear facilities for a couple of years, at least. I think it is a sane policy to stop insane people from having nuclear weapons. And I’m not a believer that having nuclear weapons will be a "maturing experience" for the mullahs.

I think that they will use them.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
MM: Sorry, missed that as a response.
And I’m not a believer that having nuclear weapons will be a "maturing experience" for the mullahs.

I think that they will use them.
On that point I agree with you.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Thanks, Billy. I’m not addressing your larger point because I think it’s arguing with arguments I’m not making at the moment. My post isn’t saying anything about Iraq’s future overall. It’s just saying that Amir Taheri’s story is pathologically ignorant, to the point that it makes me wildly angry, and then wildly depressed, that a person like Q, who is not stupid and not a complete hack, at least not on purpose, could put it up on the front page.
I long ago stopped reading Taheri because he seems to dabble primarily in fantasy. While I think the Weekly Standard folk are purposefully spinning, they at least try to stay grounded in interpreting the facts. Taheri goes over the top in many (most?)of his articles.

The violence in Shi’ite regions points to an ominous problem should the US wait too long to start withdrawal. Perhaps we’re as close to a peace with honor moment as possible, with al qaeda weakened to the point that they can’t really challenge for any kind of power in Iraq, and the threat being intra-Shi’ite violence if we stay longer and continue to be seen as trying to shape Iraqi politics. This is the time when the US could turn to Saudi Arabia and Iran, two countries who do NOT want to risk a Shi’ite-Sunni regional war, to play a major role in stabilizing Iraq as we leave. We can declare that the surge "worked" as well as could be hoped for, and note that if after five years the Iraqi politicians cannot reach agreement, nothing we continue to do will help, it’s in their hands now. We can keep some troops in Kurdistan (where they’ll face much less violence, and can be a stabilizing role vis-a-vis Turkey — and be close if absolutely needed for some emergency in the region), and build have a realist sort of relationship with Iran (Krauthammer talks about deterrence today — he argues that a pre-emptive strike against Iran is unlikely), perhaps working towards a kind of detente. That can involve triangulation with Arab states, plus perhaps the kind of "holocaust declaration" Krauthammer talks about.

In short, this may be the right time to move quickly from military action to a focus on diplomacy and realism.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
That was Buchanan’s prediction. His thinking is that if we hit Iranian targets, we will have forfeit any popular support we now have in Iran. Then it’s in for a penny in for a pound.

As someone who has sat nuke alert, I’m not crazy about the idea of a preemptive strike, but I also do not want Hezbullah to get nuclear weapons.

I’m sure there are special forces operating in Iran today. Parts of the country are not under the control of Tehran. Before we set up a box pattern over Natantz, I suggest we throw a lot more money at the people in Iran who do not like the Mullahs.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
Boris:
I long ago stopped reading Taheri because he seems to dabble primarily in fantasy.
What is it, exactly, that you think you do, Boris?

Just because your fantasies are morbid fantasies of defeat for the U.S. and for Iraqi society, does that somehow leave you to believe that you are a some sort of "realist?"
Perhaps we’re as close to a peace with honor moment as possible,
And do what, leave Iraq and the entire region to lapse into chaos?

The Saudis have no more capacity to make a deal with Iran than Maliki has of winning a swimsuit competition.

The only good news in the Middle East (other than the progress being made in Iraq because of them) is the presence of 150,000 American troops there. That is the Archimedean lever in the region, and that is the region’s hope for the future, not some ridiculous "peace with honor" that you fantasize.

And as much as the Arab world complains about that American presence they know who the good guys are, and that they’ll never get another shot at putting their shop in order over and against their own extremist factions, including those in Iran and Saudi Arabia, like the shot they have now.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
With 9,000 centrifuges running, Iran will have enough enriched uranium to build a small (10 KT) weapon in a year. It is in our interest to prevent that from happening. The only question is, "how?"
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
Arch:
I suggest we throw a lot more money at the people in Iran who do not like the Mullahs.
Well, that’s a "race against time" scenario. I honestly don’t know what we’ve been doing, in that regard, up to now, but I don’t see students/dissidents either overthrowing that regime or having the capacity to sabotage the nuke facilities.

I think that we’ve been down to a bad option and a horrible option for a long time now. And that the bad option will only be available for just so long.

Two things I forswear discussion of are civil war here in the U.S. and the use of nuclear weapons by the U.S. anywhere.
The only question is, "how?"
By any conventional means necessary, before the matter falls outside of conventional means.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Scott:

Your approach logical, and that’s the problem. I’m sure you have heard the ancient fable of the Frog and the Scorpion.

A frog is swimming in the river and as he nears the bank a scorpion calls out, "Mr Frog, I need to cross the river, but I cannot swim. Would you let me get on your back and take me to the other side?"

The frog, staying a safe distance from the bank answers, "If I let you get on my back, you will sting me and I’ll die."

To which the scorpion replies, "Nonsense! If you died, I would drown."

Pondering the proposition, the frog swims to the bank and says, "All right, get on."

With the scorpion on his back, half way across the river he feels the deadly sting. As he struggles, the frog asks, "Why did you sting me?"

"This is the Middle East," answers the drowning scorpion.

You see Scott, logic doesn’t work.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
Sadr early on tried to calm things down
Of course he did, because his army had been hijacked by the Iranians.
Al-Sadr was left holding his ..

Frankly, this story line fits many of the points that had the British compaining that the US was trying to go to war with Iran .. an obvious outcome if the Iranians had already started it. This also explains some reports that Maliki had asked the Coalition to seal the border with Iran. If this was a local al-Sadr driven uprising, just why would Maliki ask to keep the Iranians out unless they were pretty much already in it ? What dog would the Iranians have with a Shia-on-Shia battle unless they were one of the Shia involved.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Bernard Lewis wrote that during the Cold War it was well understood in the Middle East that if you did anything to the Russians that they would come after you and your family immediately and brutally. So, the Russians were seldom messed with.

If you did anything to the Americans, you could expect to be rewarded.

I think that this war has allowed us to steer a course between those two positions.

Justice, swift and fair, I think it’s called.

And we did win the Cold War.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Anyone who believes that Saudi Arabia and Iran will get together and come up with an acceptable solution for stability Iraq are ignoring a major feature - Iraq has a democratically elected government. It’s messy and not very effective, but it stands as an example that Arab or muslim nations need not be ruled by authoritarian regimes. If the either the Saudis or Iranians had the opportunity to snuff out this democracy, they would do it in a heartbeat.

America needs to stay in Iraq until it is stable and strong enough to stand on its own. The surge wasn’t a prelude to retreat. We need to face the fact that the US interest is not just the end of the Iraq War, it is a successful, stable, secure democratic Iraq.
 
Written By: Arch
URL: http://
By any conventional means necessary, before the matter falls outside of conventional means.
I fear this my already be outside conventional means. The Israeli strike of the early 1980s on Sadaam’s nuclear facility taught a hard lesson to anyone who would take the time to learn from it. The future of all your eggs and the number of baskets you use are the main tenets of that lesson.

That coupled with a questionable intelligence apparatus leaves us with little real knowldge as to the where these nuclear facilities are located, leaves us with a virtually impossible task - How to knock out their nuke capability. if not permanantly, then hit it hard enough they have to virtually start over again.

Additionally, we are, as Pateaus and Croker have testified, at a stage in Iraq where our successes there are not permanent. We have built up some momentum but it is a fragile thing. I cannot see us upsetting that applecart with the added pressure of additional operations against Iran. And that is why I believe Iran continues to operate against us in Iraq - that and their hatred of all things US. The Iranians have to believe that if our major combat operations in Iraq were definitely on the wane, we would be tempted to turn militarily on Iran. I believe that it is their intent to keep this pressure up until such time as there is positively no chance of military action against them - and that means a Surrendercrat administration in place in the US.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
SShiell:
I cannot see us upsetting that applecart with the added pressure of additional operations against Iran. And that is why I believe Iran continues to operate against us in Iraq - that and their hatred of all things US. The Iranians have to believe that if our major combat operations in Iraq were definitely on the wane, we would be tempted to turn militarily on Iran. I believe that it is their intent to keep this pressure up until such time as there is positively no chance of military action against them - and that means a Surrendercrat administration in place in the US.
The conundrum.

You either do it (take out Iran nuke facilities) now, or you risk waiting for an administration that has no will to do it. Leading to an Iran with nuclear weapons. (My view: a nuclear Iran is an unacceptable outcome.)

And you don’t attack Iran on its meddling in Iraq now because Iran is attacking you in Iraq and striking back will upset the delicate balance in Iraq causing you to lose preciously gained ground. (My view: Iran’s ability to meddle in Iraq should be seriously degraded, inclusive of its will to meddle.)

I’d say that if you have good intelligence on the strategic targets, get at them, and at the same time punish the hell out of any bases in Iran related to Iranian interference in Iraq, and if the Shi’a militias want some, be ready to give it to them.

And see where things stand when the dust settles.

I mean, if "realism" means that you only work your will within the confines of the antiwar narrative, then you’re not taking advantage of the presence the U.S. has over there right now.

Remember that, its long war with Iraq in the 1980s notwithstanding, Iran has never had to pay for its behavior. It has been outsourcing terrorism for 30 years and contributing to the destabilization of the entire region. Look what it has done in Lebanon. Look at its efforts in Iraq.

I’d like to see how the mullahs react to having to pay for their behavior, recalling the comment by Bernard Lewis that I recounted upthread. What if this whole thing boils down to the lack of will to break the will of the mullahs, who by now must believe that Allah protects them. Shake that belief. Make them pay.

And Mr. Putin might want to consider, as well, the possibility that when Bush goes, and if McCain loses, that there won’t be a U.S. leader ready to clean up that mess on his border.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Good analysis. Refreshing.
 
Written By: Richard of Oregon
URL: http://

America needs to stay in Iraq until it is stable and strong enough to stand on its own. The surge wasn’t a prelude to retreat. We need to face the fact that the US interest is not just the end of the Iraq War, it is a successful, stable, secure democratic Iraq.
Big question at the end, first a couple of comments.

Iraq is only nominally a democracy. Iran is also nominally a democracy. Iraq’s is limited by the weakness of the central government, which does not control Sunni areas, Kurdistan or most Shi’ite regions. The Iraq government relies on the Iranian backed Badr militia.

Iran’s government is far more stable than Iraq’s, but it’s democracy is limited by the large amount of power given the Guardian Council, limiting true competiton (though they allow more than, say, the Egyptian ’democracy.’) I see no reason to expect a state divided like Iraq, with massive corruption and foreign involvement to become a stable western style democracy. That will take decades, and they have to do it on their own terms, making regional deals.

All that said, the Saudis and Iranians have reason to want a stable Iraq, regardless of the governmental structure.

Big question: Why? Why is it worth it to the US to stay in Iraq and try to achieve this social engineering to our kind of democracy? Is the benefit worth the cost?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
The Iranians are paying for the Iraqi Army.
They sure don’t seem to be getting much for their money, since they just kicked the Iranian-armed militias’ collective butt.

It’s hard to come up with clearer links than that.

Pretty easy actually: all those Iranian-backed militais the IA have been fighting have weapons clearly manufactured in Iran. EFP > EFT.
 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://www.deanesmay.com
Iraq’s is limited by the weakness of the central government, which does not control Sunni areas, Kurdistan or most Shi’ite regions.

The exact extent of their control isn’t that important. The provinces will hold their own elections.

The Iraq government relies on the Iranian backed Badr militia.

How is the Badr militia "Iranian-backed" in any relevant sense? They get essentially all their money and weapons from Baghdad.

Iran’s government is far more stable than Iraq’s, but it’s democracy is limited by the large amount of power given the Guardian Council

They are also limited by the fact they have severely limited freedoms of press, religion, sexuality, etc.

I see no reason to expect a state divided like Iraq, with massive corruption and foreign involvement to become a stable western style democracy.

They are already one of the freest countries in the region. They show every sign they will continue to progress. Are they going to be Sweden anytime soon? No, but that’s a ridiculously high bar.

Why? Why is it worth it to the US to stay in Iraq and try to achieve this social engineering to our kind of democracy? Is the benefit worth the cost?

Well, for starters, some semblance of freedom and democracy for 25 million Iraqis has great value.

As for us: 9/11 cost us about 2 trillion dollars. While Saddam’s terrorist-sponsoring gov’t may not have been directly involved, his oppressive regime and our need to constantly bomb them was exactly the sort of situation that created the conditions under which people decide crashing planes into New York is a good idea.

 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://www.deanesmay.com
They sure don’t seem to be getting much for their money, since they just kicked the Iranian-armed militias’ collective butt.
The Badr militia, which did most of the fighting against the Mahdi army, is backed by Iran. Iran has its hands in every pot there, it’s got a lot of influence on the Iraqi government as well.

Also, note how long it took us to get rid of slavery, to given women the right to vote (they have a lot more rights in Iran than women did here for a long time), and recognize that building democracy and freedom is a cultural endeavor. You don’t just change governments and expect a culture to fast forward 100 or so years. Iran will slowly evolve, hopefully Iraq will.

Finally, we are helping al qaeda and the extremists with an Iraq war that mostly kills people who are concerned about internal Iraqi policies, and otherwise wouldn’t be against us. This helped al qaeda recruit, weakened the US, drove up oil prices, and gave them a chance to regroup and strengthen in Afghanistan. I’m convinced that the two biggest disadvantages this war will be remembered for is: a) strengthening Iran and removing leverage we had against them; and b) helping al qaeda regroup by focusing our attention elsewhere. They could recruit a few people in nearby countries to cross the border and tie us down, while they worked to rebuild their network.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
So,Scott, to summarize your analysis over the last week - the Iranian backed militia of Mookie Al Sadr was variously beating on, or beaten by, the Iranian backed militia of Al-Maliki.

(Of course! Why didn’t I see it! Both Iranian backed sides are very far removed from their connections to Iran! So far in fact that neither one would ever realize the other is being backed by the same foreign government! And Irans master plan must be to have Iraqis kill Iraqis so the Iranians can eventually gain control? Is that it? and the Iraqi’s are too stooopid to see it! I mean these guys are actually in charge of their own groups, and know who they’re master are, but don’t recognize who’s in charge of the other group! And they’re all actually in Iraq, living, every day!!!
WOW, BRILLIANT! and You, and Juan Cole of course, know the truth of it all, sitting over here in the US as you are.

Yes, I see!)
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Yes, Looker, the Iranians are backing just about everyone. They are determined that no matter how this goes, they are the power brokers. It’s a pretty brilliant strategy — and explains why they ultimately wanted to make sure things didn’t blow up out of control. Al-Sadr’s Mahdi army probably gets less support from Iran than the Badr brigades, especially the corrupt gangs in the south. So don’t buy the "Iran = Sadr, US = Maliki" line. It’s so much more complicated than that. This is the Mideast, after all. Oh, you can learn this stuff in the US — in fact, it may be easier to get the big picture comparing lots of sources in the US than just seeing a small slice in Iraq or Iran. I do plan to get more links on how Iran is funding the various sources...
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Right, and those Iraqis - they’re soooooooooooooooooo stooopid.

Maybe the Iraqi leaders of these groups probably get together on holidays in Iran and have drinks together and swap stories about killing each other’s men, all on behalf of Iran.

"And that time in Basra, you remember the ambush at Al Muwaad!!! Man, you had us fooled!"

"Oh! that time! yes we got you pretty good! But not as bad as that time in Fatwink when you hit us from three sides!"


Just as you say it’s obviously complicated Scott and the Iraqi’s are just to stoooooopid to see how they’re being maniuplated by Iran.

And analysis done here in the US based on information you get on the internet....just awesome, go and get more links for sources. It’s no wonder guys at the scene are so confused and clueless! They’re too close to the truth and just can’t see the forest for the trees.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
No, looker, if you’ve been following this you’d know that the ties between the Iraqi Shi’ite parties and Iran are real, and they have very good relations. Iran is playing this well, and will probably end up with allies in Shi’ite Iraq. I think once we leave, there will be a movement of Iraqi Arabs to resist the Persian influence, but for now I think Iranian generosity, Iranian goods (they are Iraq’s most important trading power), Iranian arms, and memories of Iranian help to all of Iraq’s Shi’ite leaders during Saddam’s terror assures that ultimately Iraqis are closer to Iran than to the US. But that’s OK.

As for Iran giving nukes to Hezbollah — they don’t even give them their best weapons now, let alone nukes. Hezbollah has often defied Iran, and any country with a small contingent of nuclear weapons will want to control it. I’m convinced Iran would not come close to trusting Hezbollah with such a weapon, not in a million years. The book Blind Spot by Timothy Naftali on the history of American counter terrorism gives some insights into the Iranian-Hezbollah rivalries, and times Hezbollah openly defied Iran. I think even the hawkish will appreciate the fascinating history of counter terrorism Naftali tells.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Well there’s that but there’s another problem that means Saudi/Iraq emnity; wouldn’t die down anytime soon,history. There’s been two times, Saudis have ventured north from the Nejd into Iran. One was the siege and sacking of Najaf and Karbala in 1803-1805; one of the things that prompted the Albanian/ Circassian Mohammed Ali regime in Egypt to drive them back into the desert by the 1820s. The second was the Ilkwan incursion following the British retreat from Iraq; that was blocked in no small part by Major Glubb as told in his memoir "War in the Desert". A retreat by the US would likely leave the most aggresive elements of Shia irredentism (Badr and Sadr)Sunni’s like the SAhwa awakenings would cme to the aid of many of the victims, but AQ would try again to sell their snake oil, which might work if they considered their pledges of assistance, had been in vane. This would in turn at some point, affect the Shia majorities in the oil rich Hasa region (Ab Quaiq, Ras Tanura) and the opposite coast(Yambu) Then there would be as the Chinese say."Interesting Times"
 
Written By: narciso
URL: http://
It’s a pretty brilliant strategy — and explains why they ultimately wanted to make sure things didn’t blow up out of control.
After Dale pulled his idiotic stunt on the jury (and it’s not his first idiotic stunt) I decided not to post here anymore.

But I can’t pass this up.

Sure, the Iranians are smart, like Nifong was a brilliant prosecutor.

^Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Sure, the Iranians are smart, like Nifong was a brilliant prosecutor.
Except they are succeeding, hurting the US, expanding regional influence, are courted by the EU, China and Russia, and snubbing their noses at the US at virtually no cost to the themselves. The Iraq fiasco has had a few consequences: a) a much stronger Iran, destined to play a strong role as a regional power; b) al qaeda has been able to regroup (as well as the Taliban) and see America weakened by a war they believe they goaded us into; and c) democracy in the region has taken a step backwards as the hope to expand western ideals to the Mideast has faded. This isn’t an impossible situation to deal with, but not one where force provides any sort of answer, and which will rely on diplomacy and being able to deal with countries which in the past we’d not wanted to. Maybe they’ll end up saying "only McCain could go to Tehran."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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