Saturday, January 13, 2007

Choosing Sides in a Civil War

This entire article is worth reading if you have the time. But here's a teaser.

The teaser doesn't explicitly say that Al Qaeda came to Iraq because the US was there, that is the inescapable implication of what the Sunni commander says.

Abu Aisha, a mid-level Sunni commander, had come to understand that the threat from the Shia was perhaps greater than his need to fight the occupying Americans...."There is a new jihad now,"..."The jihad now is against the Shia, not the Americans."

In Ramadi there was still jihad against the Americans because there were no Shia to fight, but in Baghdad his group only attacked the Americans if they were with Shia army forces or were coming to arrest someone.

"We have been deceived by the jihadi Arabs," he admitted, in reference to al-Qaida and foreign fighters. "They had an international agenda and we implemented it. But now all the leadership of the jihad in Iraq are Iraqis."

Abu Aisha went on to describe how the Sunnis were reorganising. After Sunni families had been expelled from mixed areas throughout Baghdad, his area in the western suburbs was prepared to defend itself against any militia attack.

"[Sunni]areas are becoming part of the new Islamic state of Iraq, each with an emir in charge." Increasingly the Iraqi insurgency is moving away from its cellular structure and becoming organised according to neighbourhood. Local defence committees have intertwined into the insurgent movement.

"Each group is in charge of a specific street," Abu Aisha said. "We have defence lines, trenches and booby traps. When the Americans arrive we let them go through, but if they show up with Iraqi troops, then it's a fight." |Guardian|(emphasis added)

The press keeps comparing our involvement in Iraq to a quagmire or quicksand where every step takes you deeper and the more you resist the further you sink.

It's a descriptive metaphor, but I think a hornet's nest is perhaps a better description. Little insects are attacking us (and each other) from all sides. Individually the attacks are insignificant, but together they are debilitating.

Yet we stand in the middle of the hornet's nest assuring ourselves that we can win the war against the hornets, when probably the best action is the run like hell, knowing some of the hornets will come after us, no matter what we do.

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