Friday, October 27, 2006

Few things about the situation in Iraq

Through few emails I exchanged with Paul Seale of Arena of Ideas he asked me few questions about the situation in Iraq, I would like to share our conversation with you

AA: Could you tell our readers where you live?
Sooni: I live in Baghdad-Iraq

AA:Many talking heads here in the United States have said recently that Iraq was better under Saddam. What do you believe and what do you say to those people?
Sooni: Saddam was a dictator, a murderer, and a warmonger. He assumed power in 1979 since that day Iraq got only backward, and part of what we are going through today related to him and what’s left of his family and followers who are still spending Iraq stolen money on funding terrorism. Saddam ruled by killing a whole family for suspecting their son, if the current government would rule that way you will see a peaceful Iraq two months from now. Iraq situation is bad now and no one can deny that, but what do you expect a battlefield would look like? Al-Qaeda, Iran, Syria, many other Arabic and Islamic countries and Islamic groups fight the Americans in Iraq and when they realized that they cant defeat the American Army they started to attack the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police also provoking the sectarian violence. They think if they can make Iraq fall down then they will be able to hinder the American project for the region. All those regimes feel threatened and they chose a clever indirect confrontation where they do not lose much more than money. If they really think it was better under Saddam then all we have to do is to let the government hands loose and a small massacre like what happened in 1991 uprising will bring back stability to Iraq!

AA: How do Iraqis view Americans as a people? What about American Soldiers?
Sooni: I can’t speak here in the name of all Iraqis, but I will try to illustrate what different groups and sects think about that. To have a better approach our parliament consist of 275 seats and Iraq population is around 27,500,000 so when I will mention a (seat) you will know how many population it represents. Iraqis love American movies, songs, and life style, I didn’t meet anyone who hates the American people, but when it comes to politics and of course the American soldiers are part of the politics we have different opinions: the Seculars and Liberals (28 seats) and the Kurds (55 seats) understand and appreciate what the American done and doing. The Sunni groups (58 seats) speak frankly of their hatred to the American policy and soldiers. The Shiite groups (130 seats) consist of many parties, trends, and individuals so I wont go far and I will say only (25 seats) of them are pro-American. At the beginning (the early days of liberation) most of the Shiite used to be pro-American because of the big favor of toppling Saddam, but later some tense started to appear when they disagreed over some political issues and after the American lunched few operations against Mahdi Army of the Sadir trend (30 seats). You can reflect those numbers on the population and you will have a good idea about the American Image in Iraq.

AA: During this election cycle in America there are politicians proposing to pull American forces out of Iraq and move them to other places in the region. If you could say something to these people, what would you say?
Sooni: Iraq is now on the edge of all-out civil war, the American troops act now like a safety valve and it is definite that Iraq will explode if those forces leave now.

AA: How might such a plan effect the average Iraqi?
Sooni: The civil war will mostly take place in Baghdad, Diala, Kirkuk, and Basra so I guess we are talking about more than 10,000,000 people will be affected directly from it and this effect will continue for many years.

AA: Could you explain the issue of federalism to our readers?
Sooni: The first group who talked about federalism was the Kurds and they put it as a condition to participate in the political process. Later the Shiite liked the idea and start talking about the “Southern Region”. The Kurds want to practice more independency away from the central government while the Shiite pretexted of providing more security to the south part of Iraq. The Sunni and part of the Shiite (al Sadir trend) refused it totally saying it will lead to partitioning Iraq.

AA: When you hear American politicians and media discuss partitioning Iraq off into sections what are your thoughts? Again, how might this effect the average Iraqi?
Sooni: The Iraqi street is a little bit confused about this issue, we hate to see Iraq divided. From the practical side I expect this will lead to endless fights and blood feuds among Iraqis. Just imagine it this way partitioning Iraq will create a small Iran in the south of Iraq and a small Afghanistan in the middle of it!

AA: From your vantage point, how bad is the sectarian violence in Iraq?
Sooni: Very bad since people get killed everyday on sectarian bases, we are only one-step away from an all-out sectarian war, any move like partitioning Iraq or the pull back of the American troops will definitely start it.

AA: What do you believe is the main cause of this?
Sooni: Too many reasons to count, but I will try to put it this way: Saddam planted the seeds and al-Qaeda reaped.

AA: What does the average Iraqi believe is the main cause for the violence?
Sooni: That will depend on their backgrounds, believes would vary from blaming al-Qaeda ending up with blaming the Jews!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Islamic state in Iraq!

Al-Qaeda's declaration of an "Islamic State" in Iraq came and went unnoticed by most of Iraqis. One of my friends said when I told him about it "what difference would it make? They've been killing people on daily basis so what makes you think they will stop and start taking care of them and act like a responsible government like they claim to be?"
As an Iraqi I know they can't control this "'State" but they chose an area of influence where they can use their "hit and run" tactics to declare a "State" in, moreover, the declaration sounded more like a challenge to the Iraqi Government and the Coalition forces than a real declaration of a state.
I guess my friend was right, there will be no change in their actions towards people but still I have a few points I would like to mention about this new "State" and its surroundings:

It seems that al Qaeda quitted the idea of "liberating" the entire country. I guess that from now on they will be busy "defending" the newborn "State".

The declaration came when their lighting began to fade so to speak, so they came up with a move to attract some of the lost attention back; they need to once again to be in the spotlight to insure the flow of recruits and funds.

They have chosen four provinces of Sunni majority where they have few supporters adding to them Baghdad and Kirkuk where they have fewer supporters. Baghdad and Kirkuk (which has a sizable presence of Shia militias that rarely gets involved in action) will witness a fierce war between al Qaeda and the Shia militia because the militia will try their best to show that the two cities do not belong to al Qaeda.

The Iraqi Government and the Coalition forces have their own war against al Qaeda and the militia, so what we will have is like a compound war where each one of them will have to fight at two fronts simultaneously.

I think their strategy will retain the same methods of killing more Shia civilians in the hope to provoke an all-out civil war.
Killing Shia civilians will lead to retaliation acts form the militia against Sunni civilians living in Shia neighborhoods, so more forced displacement will take place in the coming few weeks. Neither the Government nor the Coalition forces can do much about the sectarian killings and forced displacement because they usually occur through assassinations and intimidations that are difficult to notice and trace by the security forces.
I don’t think deploying more forces would solve the problem but "smart" forces may have a better chance.

The al-Qaeda should not be given any chance to choose the time and the place of the battle. The moving patrols of the Iraqi and Coalition forces are very simple targets and most of the casualties happen among them. The best way to deal with both al- Qaeda and the militia is to keep "hunting" them in "sudden strikes". They should live in fear all the time not knowing when it will happen.
The Israeli techniques in hunting down their opponents would go perfect for the coming stage. Eliminating their threat is more cost-effective and prevents unnecessary casualties that might result when trying to capture them.