By Joel Wendland
Here are some clips:
"...the level of overall violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians, remains high; Iraq's sectarian remain unreconciled; AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] retains the ability to conduct high profile attacks; and to date, Iraqi political leaders remain unable to lead effectively."
Some successes appear to come not from troop level increases but from new tactics related to "working with Iraqi forces, some tribal elements, and some Sunni insurgents...." The latter development has arisen in the last six to nine months and as the Washington Post reported earlier this month is driven by cash and weapons bribes to Sunni groups, not the "surge."
But... "Broadly accepted political compromises required for sustained security, long-term political progress, and economic development are unlikely to emerge unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments."
So the problem is basically political. One might even argue that US involvement, both military and political, is primarily "driving Iraqi political and security developments."
But the report shifts the blame for insecurity to Iraqis themselves directly. Though at one point there is an interesting admission:
"The Iraqi Government's Shia leaders fear these groups [newly armed Sunni groups] will ultimately side with armed opponents of the government..."
So to clarify. The Bush administration has reached out to former insurgents, groups who have battled US forces, and with cash and weapons bribes have ostensibly brought them into the fold. But the Iraqi government, which the US has until now more or less propped up and supported, sees these groups as a potential threat.
And these newly armed groups actually see acceptance of US bribes as a means of building up there power in order to compete with Shia sects who currently control the government.
Can you see how this arrangement might fail, even move the situation more rapidly toward a highly volatile and, with the new weapons that have been made available, deadly civil war?
Remember this is a bribe program, and has nothing to do with the "surge."
So why does the Bush administration take steps that seem contradictory and unlikely to resolve intense insecurity issues both sides feel?
1. To maintain US occupation and involvement by preserving an insecure situation
2. Newly armed Sunni groups are meant to counter Shia control and Iranian influence
This is where we get to the heart of the matter: the new tactics are not about Iraq's security, but Iran's influence. Essentially, we are seeing the first steps toward a proxy war with Iran that is going to be fought out in Iraq.
See excerpts at TPM...