Sunday, July 29, 2007

Petraeus and al Maliki Disagree? Get the Heck Outta Here!

The newspaper reported this morning that General David Petraeus' and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al Maliki's personalities are grating on each other. That is no surprise. Petraeus has an interest to see the Iraqi people succeed in their quest for liberty, while al Maliki has ever only had the interests of the Iraqi Shia' at heart. Updated 8/4/2007

I wonder what would happen if the Iraqi people did their genealogy. Some of the lines are probably already pretty well known. But I'd bet that they'd find in many cases that, regardless of whether they are now Sunni or Shia', somewhere along the line they are related. Is that what it might take to solve the problem of religious hatred in Iraq?

It sure doesn't seem to be working with Nouri al Maliki at the helm.

A key aide says Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's relations with Gen. David Petraeus are so poor the Iraqi leader may ask Washington to withdraw the overall U.S. commander from his Baghdad post.

Iraq's foreign minister calls the relationship "difficult." Petraeus, who says their ties are "very good," acknowledges expressing his "full range of emotions" at times with al-Maliki. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who meets with both at least weekly, concedes "sometimes there are sporty exchanges."

It seems less a clash of personality than of policy. The Shiite Muslim prime minister has reacted most sharply to the American general's tactic of enlisting Sunni militants, presumably including past killers of Iraqi Shiites, as allies in the fight against al-Qaida here.

An associate said al-Maliki once, in discussion with President Bush, even threatened to counter this by arming Shiite militias.

You mean like the ones he's already armed?

Just before I left Iraq in 2006, al Maliki became the Iraqi prime minister. All sorts of platitudes were offered, and I found myself somehow optimistic that al Maliki would make things happen. I shouldn't be surprised that I was wrong. Al Maliki seems to be a Shia first and an Iraqi last. It might have been easier if George Bush would have thought of nuances like these before we went running pell mell into Baghdad.

Maybe Petraeus should give Nouri al Maliki an ultimatum. Treat all Iraqis the same or we're outta here. Unfortunately, that's probably just what al Maliki and his Iranian compatriots want.

Update 8/4/2007 Harry Reid says the war is lost.

This [Iraq] war is lost," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated emphatically and without qualification. "There's simply no evidence that the escalation is working," he said recently. It requires "blind hope, blind trust" to believe in progress of any sort.

Maybe we should put him in charge of the US Forces in Iraq. Then again... General Petraeus says differently.

We have achieved . . . a reasonable degree of tactical momentum on the ground. Gains against the principal near-term threat, al Qaeda-Iraq, and also gains against what is another near-term threat, and also potentially the long-term threat, Shia militia extremists as well.

Being called a Shia extremist probably didn't sit well with Shia' extremist Nouri al Maliki. But you know, General Petraeus is right.


rmwarnick said...

If we are going to pretend that Maliki is the Iraqi chief executive, then we can't do what Petraeus is doing in Anbar. He's given Sunni thugs the right to arrest and torture people, and supported them with arms and money. If a government does not have a monopoly on the use of force, it's not really a government.

Scott said...

As for the Sunnis having arrest powers in Anbar: Is George Bush the chief executive of the US, or was Bill Clinton chief executive 7 years ago? Do you question that? Every day the NYPD arrests numerous people. By your reasoning, that undermines the authority of the federal government. And yes, the tribal forces are organized into the local police force, at least nominally and in more reality than the national police force is a national police force.

I'm not aware of any torture commited by the Sunni tribes allied with us in Anbar. Given that their activities are almost completely limited to Anbar where their targets are almost exclusively al Qaeda. The tribal leaders are also more likely to consider anyone in their territory who is not a confirmed terrorist to be a constituent.

About our arming the tribes, it was actually started by Col. MacFarland who commanded the brigade in charge of Ramadi last year, before Petraeus arrived. The only shame about it is that Capt. Patriquant, who created a famous stick-figure Powerpoint presentation advocating exactly that, did not live to see it happen and succeed.

rmwarnick said...

IraqSlogger reports that our new-found allies execute suspects with a bullet to the head.

CNN's Anderson Cooper: "They were our enemies in Iraq. Now, they're our allies in Iraq. They're also thugs. They beat their captives. They torture them and conduct roadside executions. And some have the blood of Americans on their hands."

These thugs would never be mistaken for the NYPD. They are not under control of the Iraqi government or anyone.