Saturday, November 04, 2006





Everyone, it seems, is worried about something in Iraq.

The American military are worried about the fast-rising casualty rate for its soldiers (almost a thousand killed and wounded in October), and how often the Iraqi police, Army and the Shiite militias and death squads will attack their own allies.

The civilians are worried about whether they and/or their families will be blown up, executed, skull-drilled or tortured tomorrow.

The Sunni insurgents are worried about the Shiite death squads and attempts to "cleanse" Sunnis from Iraq, or at least Baghdad. Sunnis are also worried that Iraq will be split into three parts, and they will be cheated out of any share of the oil revenue.

The Shiite leaders, meanwhile, are worried that the United States is secretely backing the Sunni "resistance" to dismantle Iran's growing stranglehold over the country's power bases, now the Shiite-dominated government has failed to curb the violence and chaos after some six months ago.

From The Washington Times :

Iraq's ruling Shiites have voiced growing concern that the United States is subtly shifting support to Sunni Arabs, the bulwark of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, in a bid to salvage 43-months of democracy building in Iraq and tamp down violence.

The perceived re-energized bid to draw the Sunni insurgency into Iraq's political process marks, in the eyes of anxious Shiites, a worrisome and major alteration of American policy in a period that has seen growing strains in the U.S.-Iraqi relationship.

The United States had relied heavily on the majority Shiite sect in its effort to construct a constitutional democracy to replace the Baath Party dictatorship that was wiped out when Saddam was chased from the Iraqi capital in the 2003 invasion.

Some Iraqi politicians apparently believe the US pulling support for the Shiites is also an essential part of the US exit strategy.

The United States has for decades maintained strong ties with moderate, Sunni-led Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. Those time-tested alliances were meant in part to ward off the influence of Iran, which is run by a fundamentalist Shiite theocracy that is deeply hostile to Washington.

With that in mind, many saw the U.S.-Shiite alliance in Iraq as temporary and predicted that Washington would eventually disengage and return to look to old Arab allies to protect its interests in the region.

"The Americans realize now that the present formula of Shiite domination in Iraq will not help them leave," said Mustapha al-Ani, a Dubai-based Iraqi analyst. "They are looking for a new balance of power in Iraq."

US President Bush has told the public, and the Maliki government, that America does not have "endless patience" when it comes to Iraq.

But in public, Bush also defends the Iraq government, saying they've only had half a year to take control of the country and quell the sectarian wars. Behind the scenes, however, Bush is said to be furious about Iraq, viewing it as a lingering problem in which the US has lost power, control and influence.

Bush doesn't want the growing Bush Co. Vs Maliki Government fued to bust wide open, but it's becoming increasingly obvious that the more the US pushes the Iraqis for results, timelines and timetables, the more resistant, rebellious and aggressive is the reaction from Maliki's crew.

From the New York Times :

The cycle of discord and strained reconciliation that has broken into the open between Iraq's Shiite-led government and the Bush administration has revealed how wide the gulf has become between what the United States expects from the Baghdad government and what it is able or willing to deliver.

Just in the past 10 days, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has rejected the notion of an American “timeline” for action on urgent Iraqi political issues; ordered American commanders to lift checkpoints they had set up around the Shiite district of Sadr City to hunt for a kidnapped American soldier and a fugitive Shiite death squad leader; blamed the Americans for the deteriorating security situation in Iraq; and demanded speeded-up Iraqi control of its own military.

Without doubt, there has been an element of political grandstanding by Mr. Maliki that reflects his need to rally support among fractious Shiite political partners and the restive masses they represent.


Still, the differences between the new Shiite rulers and the Americans are real and growing. And the paradox of their animosity is that the primary beneficiary of the rift is likely to be their common enemy, the Sunni insurgents. Their aim has been to recapture the power the Sunnis lost with Mr. Hussein’s overthrow — and to repeat the experience of the 1920s, when Shiites squandered their last opportunity to wrest power and handed the Sunnis an opening to another 80 years of domination.


In the past week, Mr. Maliki has added a new, potentially incendiary grievance against the Americans. In interviews that preceded a placatory teleconference call with President Bush last weekend, he said the poor security situation across Iraq was the Americans’ fault, and demanded a more rapid transfer of command authority over the war.

He also asked for more funds to fight the violence and to rebuild.

Bush panicked when al-Maliki started demanding more money for security and dispatched a top national security advisor to go and placate the Iraq government. In only a few hours, while the Americans and Iraq officials met, seven US soldiers were killed and more than a dozen wounded in attacks across Baghdad.

It's almost like the United States is now being held to ransom by the Shiite-dominated Iraq government. Shiites who puhlicly maintain militias and death squads, now mostly targeting Sunnis and foreign Al Qaeda fighters.

Will the US death toll resulting from ambushes and attacks by Shiite-controlled militias and death squadsa increase until Bush Co. signs over tens of billions of dollars worth of rebuilding funds?

US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has recently predicted that Iraqis are likely to break up the oil revenue amongst the regional controls. Baghdad, then, would become home for a central government aiming to keep some kind of political unity in place, one that does not affect the flow of oil, or oil revenue.

From Bloomberg :
"They are not going to have such a centralized system with the use of that resource, and that's probably a good thing because we do know also that a centralized system around oil tends to produce corruption,'' Rice said...


The oil strategy outlined by Rice suggests a change in U.S. policy, according to Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East analyst for the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service in Washington. Up until now, "the U.S. policy has been for a strong, unified central government,'' Katzman said. "These remarks would appear to lean more toward those advocating regional autonomy.''


What the U.S. is trying to avoid is `"all of those resources flowing into a central government in Iraq'' which "could become so powerful it would be able to repress other parts of Iraq...'

Oil production in Iraq for September was some two million barrels per day, estimated. But Iraqi oil officials have been meeting in Beiijing, looking for the kind of Chinese investment dollars that could boost that output to more than six million barrels per day, within six years, tripling the oil-derived income.

The largest oil fields and terminals from which to export the oil currently lie in the Shiite-dominated region of Southern Iraq.

The north of Iraq has plenty of oil as well, and the Kurds have already formed a means of self-government, and are actively pushing for an independent Kurdistan. Turkey remains deeply opposed to this action, while Israel quietly welcomes such independence, no doubt seeing a day coming sooner when they can have an oil pipeline running from Kirkuk, through Jordan and into Israel.

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