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November 13, 2005



Does it matter that the foreign jihadi element is numerically insignificant? Isn't the point of GG that you can still exert significant influence through systems disruption, despite your numerically insignificant size?

mark safranski

I just read the Rosen piece in the dead tree edition - I have a hard time believing that Sunni insurgents of the Baathist to homegrown Islamist variety will lay down arms simply because the U.S. bugs out. That assertion simply makes no sense. " Ok, guys, we still don't have jobs, status or power and those Shiite and Kurdish dogs run Iraq - but since the Americans left,let's call it a day."

Most of the Sunnis will lay down their arms when either they are offered a political deal they view as highly advantageous - and recall they are not noted for their political realism here(Many Sunnis do not even admit Shiites are the numerical majority in Iraq) - or if they face certain destruction of their community should they refuse.

The foreign jihadis of course will not lay down their arms at all - they want a Shiite-Sunni civil war and they pass over the borders of Iraq with relative freedom.

John Robb

I agree. However, I think the result would look more like Colombia than anything else.

Quilly Mammoth

I agree that the Kurds will bolt as soon as they feel they can. Their latest media campaign fairly screams it. But I disagree with the thought that a majority of Sunnis and Shia' will demand a "Theocratical Democracy". One of the best arguments against Bush's claims before the war was that the secularization of Iraq under Saddam made Iraq a poor breeding ground for Radical Islamic Fundamentalism...let alone the next "Taliban".

On the other hand...what happened? "Don't go to war, they aren't RIFs" v. "Get out, they are all RIFs"? And this often spoken by the same people only the utterances are separated by time? This debate has become very tainted by the politics of America and the Iraq War.

On the gripping hand I have friends that have found that working the local tribal structure is "Hearts and Minds" and that tribal loyalty, something the wonks missed in the run up to the war, is not always guided by the latest fatwah issued by the local imam. Somehow all the "experts" missed the importance of clan and tribe in 20th century Iraq under Saddam.

Even if Nir Rosen is completely correct the issue of how al Qaeda will react to an abrupt United States withdrawal is not addressed. We know that ObL took many of his cues from the stuttering US policy of the past. He felt that the US was a Paper Tiger. Let’s not forget that this isn’t linear warfare. There are multiple opponents with multiple objectives.

Sometime those objectives combine, as it does now with the Ba’athist infrastructure cooperating with foreign fighters, to present what may be seen as a common foe. But it isn’t. So even if we could leave Iraq right now, it may actually embolden the al Qaeda network that sees this fight quite differently than does the Ba’athists or the local tribal leader.

phil jones

Mammoth said : "On the other hand...what happened? "Don't go to war, they aren't RIFs" v. "Get out, they are all RIFs"? And this often spoken by the same people only the utterances are separated by time?"

I think a story (linked from here) recently might be the answer to this : http://www.back-to-iraq.com/archives/2005/10/a_note_on_the_j.php

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