General Eclectic

Monday, September 27, 2004

The End Game in Sight in Iraq

The key to the successful disengagement from Iraq lies in two arenas.

Its border nations must be willing and able to stop the infiltaration of jihadists and jihadists in training.

On the northern border, Turkey has a vested interest in controlling its Kurdish minority. Turkey is unfortunately being pulled in two directions. Its civil leadership -- the secular authorities and the Army see that the future lies in being a member of the EU. The United States is pushing for this. We know, however, that EU membership will distance Turkey and America. Our common enemy, for the time being, is no more. This secular leadership faces a threat from a religion based party. Turkey looks like Pakistan in the days of its own democracy.

To the west are Syria and Jordan. The Ba'athist government in Syria appears to be facing now the reality of the demise of the Ba'athist party through which Hussein ruled Iraq. It gets to keep, of course, the wealth and arms transferred out by Hussein. The Ba'athist dictator Assad has indiated that it will move troops from western Syria and Lebanon to police the Iraqi border and stop the movement of the terrorist jihadists along the major highway to Baghdad. Assad may have come to realize that the coalition is winning and the unemployed Sunni terrorists would look to his country for more fun and games. He is a realist if nothing else.

It was Hussein and Assad who were the primary supporters of Hamas, the Syrian based terrorist group active against Israel. Of interest was the report today of the Israeli assassination of a Hamas leader in Damascus. All praise to Mossad expertise, but one may question whether the Syrian intelligence folk, under Assad direction, might have had a hand in it. The objective would be to retain Syrian control over the organization. That direction would have the the objective of cooling the firebrands. The new Saudi interest in counter terrorism (now that they have been struck on their own territory) may be evidenced here.

Jordan's interests as well are served by an Iraqi peace. The increasing number of Palestinians resident there will in time overbalance the prior Arab/Palestinian nation. King Abdullah to date has maintained his authority just as his predecessor did.

We have mentioned the Saudis earlier. Kuwait, the monarchy at the western head of the Persian Gulf needs the stability of a democratic Iraq.

To the East, however, the Persians have an opposing position. Iran, whether in the control of the Mercedes Mullahs or under an expected secular Islamic republic does not want to face a strong Iraq. It is using 'volunteers' from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to augment their fellow Shi'ites around 'Sadr City.' The jey border to be defended -- and where regional and U.N. forces are sorely needed -- is the eastern border.

Internally, the nascent Iraqi government is doing better than might be expected. In he evolution of any nation-state matters do not proceed along a constant curve upwards. Victory is a three syllable word.

We have not announced our end game. But this is what I envision.

We are now engaged in a strong militry push to grind down the indigenous terrorists. I see, by the way, that one provincial chief of the Iraqi National Guard (a BG and former Hussein officer) has been detained. This is to be expected, or does no person remember our Benedict Arnold.

Elections will be held in January will legitimize a new Government. That in turn will enable a plea by that government to obtain regional and UN resources to further train police and defense forces. U.S. military forces will be asked to do border patrol duties in the east and to further train theIraqi military in certain areas. The remainder of our forces will withdraw to Kuwait.

Ideally, the new constitution will permit the organization of three regional governments which will control provinces. Regional police forces will be established and augment local police forces.

With Sunni and Shia controlling their own regions indigenous terrorism will be minimized and the foreigners exposed. Each regional government would have oil resources and an enlightened self interest in continuing the oil flow.

However, the prospect of legal self policing at the provincial and regional levels is not being addressed. It is that organization by region which will provide the greatest incentive towards peace. It would be a breathtaking move. There are risks. But if a single nation -- a democracy -- is to be formed it must be by the consent of the government. There consent is best achieved through the expression of regional interests facing a common threat and ceding some of their powers to prevail. That was how the United States was formed. The weakness of the Articles of Confederation drove us to the strengths of the Constitution.

Organization of the 'locals' creates the enlightened self interest which is needed for success.

Absent that, any new constitution can be ratified but its acceptance will take some time before it is validated by the habit of peace.


At January 7, 2005 at 11:38 AM, Blogger ryan said...

Pete, just a note that you may wish to comment on... the current top Al'Asad in Syria (Bashar) is the son of the past president, who was close to Saddam in the past. The elder Al'Asad died in 2000, I think, and it's interesting to see the cautious course taken by Syria since then (even before 9/11). Bashar has been attempting to strike a delicate balance with the various factinos in Iraq - he's clearly not his father, and is perceived by some as "too Western" (having been educated in Britian, I seen to recall).

My belief is that the younger Al'Asad is one of the rocks that the US is trying to get rolling with it's lever in Iraq, partially by waving a big stick, but also partially by providing Bashar with the rationale that he needs to move Syria toward openness with the West and Israel. Not that I think that he's a swell guy, but compared to his father he seems much more open to dialogue and understanding that the status quo with Isreal is not just a 'quagmire', but a self-reinforcing recipe for eventual disaster.

MHO, only. Interested in hearing your take.

At January 26, 2005 at 3:45 AM, Blogger pete speer said...

Ryan --

The extent of Syrian cooperation is constrained by the necessity for al Asad to retain power through his Ba'athist dictatorship. Support for the Ba'athist remnants in Iraq is the understandable result.

There are fundamentalist Sunni pressures within Syria as well. al Asad is riding the fundamentalist tiger. Thus his continuing support for Hamas.

These factors result in a low ceiling on Syrian cooperation with U.S. interests

pete speer

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