Iraq: Negotiating the Post-War Deal

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November 30, 2007: The war is moving north, where several hundred terrorists have fled, and set up bases. However, Iraqi civilians are not as terrified of the terrorists anymore. Even Sunni Arab civilians will pass on tips about Sunni Arab terrorists arriving in their neighborhood or village. Cell phone service, and use, has spread so much that there is hardly anywhere that does not have a few cell phone owners. The army and police are more aggressive in letting everyone know what numbers to call. The cops are competent and reliable enough that, if you do tip them off about some terrorists, a raid will follow. The Iraqi Army has come a long way as well, with two large scale (several Iraqi divisions) operations in the north in the past week. This is a big deal, because each division has to move around several thousand troops, coordinate with several brigades of American troops, and do lots of stuff at the right place and the right time. All that requires trained staff officers to plan, and competent NCOs and officers to carry out. The Iraqi troops also appear more sure of themselves. American soldiers who are back for their second or third tour notice it the most, because Iraqi soldiers were not nearly as impressive just a year or two ago.

The large number of raids in, and around, the northern oil fields, are meant to prevent any terror bombing offensives in Kirkuk, Mosul or the nearby oil fields. In the past week, several hundred al Qaeda and Sunni Arab terrorist operators or supporters have been arrested. Lots of weapons, bomb making equipment and documents have been taken as well. The terrorists are still not able to mount major operations. Even the use of roadside bombs is way down, as are U.S. casualties, which have not been this low since 2004. But as long as cash and volunteers are still getting into the country, it's possible for the Sunni Arab terror groups to rebuild themselves, and resume the mass murder attacks. Meanwhile, Iranian al Quds (special terrorist support forces) operators are still in Iraq, but the political situation back in Iran is fluid. There are still some Iranian leaders who want al Quds to get some bloodshed going in Iraq, but these leaders have less and less clout of late.

A recent bombing in a Baghdad pet market, which appeared to be the work of al Qaeda, turned out to be some Shia fanatics trying to rekindle large scale violence between Sunni and Shia Arabs. This Shia group also had some help from Iranian special forces. Thus at least one faction in the Iranian government is not happy about peace breaking out in Iraq. To that end, the Iraqi government has begun negotiations with the U.S. over a long term relationship. What the Iraqis want is a long term American military presence ("50,000 troops" has been tossed about), and guarantees of Iraqi independence. The Iraqi Shia Arabs, who now dominate the government (because they are over 60 percent of the population), want to keep the Iranians, Saudis and Turks out. American troops can guarantee that. It's unlikely the U.S. would agree to keep 50,000 in Iraq (at the new bases built out in the countryside). Even if Iraqi kicked in to cover the costs (as South Korea, Japan and Germany have long done for their American garrisons), it would still be a "hardship post" with troops largely confined to bases. This is generally the case with American troops in Moslem countries. However, the number of troops is negotiable, and would probably be closer to 10,000. All you need is a "tripwire force" (attack it, and a lot of U.S. reinforcements will promptly arrive). The U.S. will also be looking for guarantees that the deal will only be good as long as a real democracy exists in Iraq. No coups, no phony elections and "president-for-life" crap. Iraq will still have plenty of problems. There are many Sunni Arabs who will never give up the idea that the Sunni Arab minority should be running the country. Similarly, there will always be Kurds who want northern Iraq to be an independent nation (named Kurdistan). Even in the Shia community, there is a minority that wants a religious dictatorship similar to the one in Iran. Iraq will remain a rough neighborhood for some time to come.

 

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