July 17, 2006

GOTTA KNOW YOUR ALLIES (via David Hill, The Bronx):

In an About-Face, Sunnis Want U.S. to Remain in Iraq (EDWARD WONG and DEXTER FILKINS, 7/17/06, NY Times)

As sectarian violence soars, many Sunni Arab political and religious leaders once staunchly opposed to the American presence here are now saying they need American troops to protect them from the rampages of Shiite militias and Shiite-run government forces. [...]

[S]unni Arab leaders say they have no newfound love for the Americans. Many say they still sympathize with the insurgency and despise the Bush administration and the fact that the invasion has helped strengthen the power of neighboring Iran, which backs the ruling Shiite parties.

But the Sunni leaders have dropped demands for a quick withdrawal of American troops. Many now ask for little more than a timetable. A few Sunni leaders even say they want more American soldiers on the ground to help contain the widening chaos.

The new stance is one of the most significant shifts in attitude since the war began. It could influence White House plans for a reduction of the 134,000 troops here and help the Americans expand dialogue with elements of the insurgency. But the budding accommodation is already stirring a reaction among the Shiites, who make up about 60 percent of the population but were brutally ruled for decades by the Sunnis.

The War on Terror is actually just a war against radical Sunni Arabs--to side with them out of convenience would be a disaster.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 17, 2006 9:21 AM

Not sectarian, factional, remember?

The fulfilment of the role of the World Government is uncanny.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 17, 2006 9:43 AM

You are naive if you think the WOT is or should be aimed only at radical Sunnis. The mullahs of Iran have substantial blood on their hands both directly and via their proxies, including their "Army of Allah", i.e. Hizb'Allah.

The WOT has to address ALL parties who are actively seeking to undermine a global economy and the culture of the west by using terror tactics. Given the alliance between radical leftists and Islamacists that is emerging in c.f. Latin America (where Commandante Marcos has already declared his conversion) it is foolish to think you can limit this struggle to one faction alone.

Posted by: too true at July 17, 2006 9:49 AM

Folks who convert to a religion because it's good at blowing up Western things are simply pining for a new power base to replace radical Marxism. The problem that leftists don't grasp is what makes radical Islam hostile to the west in the first place are the things they're at the forefront in supporting in the west (they may want to convert or kill fundamantalist Christians at the point of a gun, but its the social causes and alternative lifestyle options that drive the Islanic radicals into a fury).

As for Iraq, peeling off part of the Sunnis who want U.S. protection from the sect's nationalist hard-liners isn't a bad thing, as long as the U.S. remembers who's in the majority in the country and doesn't overly reward them for becoming more reasonable about their situation.

Posted by: John at July 17, 2006 10:01 AM

Boy, was this an inevitable article. I sort of assumed that the Sunni Arabs weren't so dumb as to not figure this out eventually. Did they really not realize that being such a minority to the Shi'ites wasn't going to be a problem?

Posted by: John Thacker at July 17, 2006 10:04 AM

Deny people political power long enough and they overreact when they get some. They'll grow out of it.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 10:10 AM


Yes, they believed they were the majority. those trying to keep Shi'ites from power in Lebanon underestimate their numbers too.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 10:12 AM

Mr. Thacker;

Odd as it may seem to us, the Sunni had been told for decades that they were not only the majority, but deserved to rule as a higher class of people, that they were indispensable to running the nation. It was part of their identity and it's a hard thing to overcome. As Mr. Gots might say, the ash heap of history is filled with "indispensable peoples" who failed to do so.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at July 17, 2006 10:26 AM

Substitute "Sunni" w/"Dems" and now we're talking.

Posted by: Sandy P at July 17, 2006 12:16 PM

"Sunni leaders have dropped demands for a quick withdrawal of American troops."

Is the iraqi insurgency indirectly helping further US interests in the region?

Posted by: Chicago Station at July 17, 2006 1:44 PM

No, directly. The war is against Sunni extremism.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 2:11 PM

The Shiite death squads are an inevitable and frankly helpful part of the transition. It has taken their violence to finally snap the Sunnis out of their fantasy of resurgence. And there are debts to be repaid, after all, with few Shia willing to wait for justice-by-Ramsey-Clark.

Once the death squads have outlived their usefulness ... right about now ... they will be reined in by the Iraqi government with whatever force is necessary. Sistani will play his usually critical role in settling folks down.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 17, 2006 2:42 PM

Apparently, if we're to believe the New York Times, the U.S. military has finally decided that Shiite attacks on Sunnis deserve its attention just as much as Sunni attacks on Americans, and submits a front page article cheerily titled, “In an About-Face, Sunnis Want U.S. to Remain in Iraq”.

But independent journalist Aaron Glantz reported on how the motivation of this crackdown on Shiites was not to help Sunnis, but was to punish proponents of a measure in the Iraqi Parliament that would have demanded a timeline for the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq:

“'We asked them to put a timetable on their withdrawal, and they think that they should stay. This is the main reason of the conflict,' explained Sadr movement spokesman Fadil el-Sharra, adding it was Sadr’s representatives in Parliament who had put forward the resolution demanding a timeline on a U.S. troop withdrawal."

The Times article reports that this U.S. military reversal garnered plaudits by many Iraqi Sunnis. But absent polling data to show a diminishing of the 80-plus percent of Iraqis who want the U.S. out, I wouldn’t have gone so far as to pat ourselves on the back for turning around Iraqi sentiment.

And judging by the ulterior motives sited by Glantz, I certainly wouldn’t have allowed the explanation by a U.S. military spokesman ascribing noble causes to the U.S. reversal to go unchallenged.

Posted by: Mitch at July 17, 2006 10:57 PM

Except you'd have to be pretty paranoid to think we're manipulating them so we can stay.

Posted by: oj at July 17, 2006 11:03 PM