For Iraqis, Time To Co-Opt The Insurgents

Discussion in 'Middle East - General' started by NATO AIR, Jun 27, 2004.

  1. NATO AIR
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    NATO AIR Senior Member

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    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5305674/site/newsweek/
    Reach Out to The Insurgents

    What is the alternative to co-opting opponents? The occupation has, in the latest CPA poll, just 2 percent support among Iraqis

    By Fareed Zakaria
    NewsweekJuly 5 issue - There is some good news coming out of Iraq. The interim government has the support of a majority of Iraqis. The international community is getting more involved. Money for the reconstruction effort is moving faster. But all this will mean nothing if Iraq's central problem—a pervasive lack of security—remains unsolved. Unless this changes soon, positive trends will turn negative. The new government will be seen as ineffectual, reconstruction will remain halting, radical militias will gain ground and there will be no elections in January. This will end in either a low-level civil war or military rule, possibly both.

    Ayad Allawi, Iraq's new prime minister, and Defense Minister Hazim Shaalan, have hinted at the possibility of imposing martial law. This is understandable, as long as it's temporary. (Syria has been in a state of emergency for 40 years.) But along with tough measures, Allawi will have to do something the United States could never bring itself to do: talk to the insurgents.

    The Bush administration has never really understood the security problem in Iraq. To do so would require that it face up to its own mistakes. The original sin of American postwar policy remains the decision to go into Iraq with too few troops. A larger presence would have intimidated and thus deterred some of the opposition, and, in places like Najaf and Karbala, forestalled the rise of local militias.

    But the second important mistake has been to discount the size of the insurgency and its local support. For many in the administration it was an article of faith that Iraqis would welcome the American occupation. So it was impossible for them to accept that ordinary Iraqis could be helping the guerrillas. That's why Donald Rumsfeld always dismissively referred to Iraqi militants as a bunch of "dead-enders." Administration officials objected to the use of terms like "insurgents," and claimed that most of the troublemakers were foreign terrorists.

    As has happened so many times regarding Iraq, ideology clouded analysis. The best-equipped, best-trained army in the world has not been able to crush or even find the "dead-enders," whose operations have grown in size, skill and organization. Fourteen months after the fall of Baghdad, Iraq's main airport remains closed, the road from the airport to Baghdad is a free-fire zone, several other key routes linking the country are extremely dangerous, and attacks on infrastructure, civilians and troops are a daily occurrence.

    "There is no doubt that the insurgents have local support," says Ahmed Hashim, a professor at the Naval War College who spent several months in Iraq last winter studying the insurgency while attached to the U.S. Army. "They melt into neighborhoods. People do not inform on them. These are all telltale signs of local support." Ha-shim says that the insurgency is made up of Baathists, Islamists, hard-core Iraqi nationalists and a significant number of foreign terrorists. "Even the foreigners have some tacit support from people," Hashim says. The glue holding them together, he argues, is nationalism and anti-Americanism.

    The Iraqi mood might be changing, and this political shift provides the best opportunity the Coalition has to win this guerrilla war. The interim government has public support. The recent attacks appear to be unpopular. Sunni clerics and tribal leaders have denounced the violence, as have almost all political parties. Allawi should capitalize on this support by moving aggressively now.

    The only successful strategy in dealing with insurgencies has been to separate them from their local support. That means offering political, social and economic bounties to those in the Sunni community who are tacitly backing—or at least not opposing—these attacks. This means co-opting clerics, tribal chiefs and former Army officers.

    This strategy would isolate the most diehard Iraqis and foreign terrorists. And they would then have to operate within less-cooperative communities. Crushing this smaller group will remain tough, but counterinsurgency warfare will more likely succeed once the guerrillas have been isolated.

    Some conservatives were apoplectic when U.S. forces made a deal with the insurgents in Fallujah. This strategy, they would argue, is Fallujah writ large. Actually, it's closer to the manner in which the Army handled the challenge from Moqtada al-Sadr in the south, using a mix of military strikes and bribes to wean away his support. Anyway, what is the alternative? The occupation, in the latest Coalition Provisional Authority poll, has 2 percent support among Iraqis. The CPA itself has inched up to 8 percent support. With those kinds of numbers, any harsh offensive operation by American troops is going to produce more insurgents than it kills. And for the foreseeable future, most counterinsurgency operations will remain largely American affairs.

    The United States has made some strides in Iraq over the past month because it has reversed many of its most damaging policies. Prodded by the Iraqi government, it must now make this final reversal.

    In my article on Saudi Arabia last week, I wrote that in a recent poll, the No. 1 issue on people's minds was corruption. In fact, it was unemployment. Corruption was No. 2, followed by "political reform."

    © 2004 Newsweek, Inc.
     
  2. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Next time someone tells you the Iraqis feel they were better off, remind them of this:


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A3433-2004Jun24?language=printer




    © 2004 The Washington Post Company
     
  3. NATO AIR
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    NATO AIR Senior Member

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    the washington post article seems to indicate as well that the iraqis do not like the US occupation, however (this is good news) they are giving their new gov't a chance....

    that's the gist of zakaria's article, that the iraqi gov't can do something the US can't... co-opt the insurgents... if they can at least get the militias to stop fighting and raising hell with the marines, that's a victory... then the iraqi gov't (and the coalition forces) can focus on fighting the terrorists....
     
  4. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    You might like to browse this site, I'll give you a bit of the latest post:

    http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

    Kinda makes you wonder what we're hearing? As I said, peruse the site. There are links there to other Iraqi bloggers.
     
  5. menewa
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    menewa Member

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    The foreign workers are coming to Iraq to work for the money, plain and simple. Despite the dangers, an $80K paycheck for an American from the South with no college degree reaks of temptation, especially when there are mouths to feed.
    Baghdad is such a scary place for foreigners that commercial planes still don't land at the airport over a year after major combat was declared as over.

    But this handover should have occurred months ago, as soon as Hussein was captured and his troops defeated. It could have saved possibly thousands of lives. However, the CPA had to be sure and privatize all it could for the benefit of the world's international corporations before a handover could occur.
     
  6. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Menew I suggest you read the article. That's $80 per month...hello??? You have even less of an idea about nation building than the administration, which is saying a lot. :rolleyes:
     
  7. NATO AIR
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    NATO AIR Senior Member

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    okay i wrote something long, it got lost in bad internet.. aww crap

    basically two things

    basic security (not terrorism/beheadings) is poor right now... the europeans need to jump in there and train up these iraqis in law enforcement and other areas. business, society and culture will never prevail if basic crimes like assault, robbery, rape and murder are being allowed or seem inevitable.

    civil affairs/aid workers.. there needs to be a very large influx of them in the sooner, rather than the later. we only have around 15,000 to 20,000 of them, we need about 100,000 or more. main goal for them is teaching and showing the iraqis how to be self-sufficent, which is possible. look at what NATO accomplished in N. Iraq with the Kurds in 10 years. anything good can happen.

    the main point of all is, the media is just so damned negative. you think the taliban is in iraq or something. there is good news, success stories, etc etc, but at the same time, in the hopeless woe is us mentality of much of the media, they also miss out on the fact that iraqis are scared not of terrorists but of common criminals who are running amok.
     
  8. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Saddam left the criminals out of the jails at the onset of the war. That is a problem that will take a long time, even if not a country under occupation, to rectify.

    NATO said yes to training, they did not rule out in Iraq, that is a done deal.
     
  9. menewa
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    menewa Member

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    What is this you speak? Americans working for private firms like HalliB earn $80K a year, not $80 a month. I didn't read anything about foreigners making as little as $80/month working for a private firm. You're joking right?
     
  10. NATO AIR
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    NATO AIR Senior Member

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    that's good NATO said yes, but are the French and Germans gonna hold up their ends of the bargain?
     

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