Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Iraqi Progress Update

As promised below is a piece about the developments in Iraq that have led to a decrease in violence levels throughout the country.

The Sunni Awakening
The Sunni Awakening or Anbar Awakening refers to a series of events that have happened in the Sunni areas of western Iraq known as Anbar province. Anbar province, right in the middle of the infamous Sunni triangle had been the most dangerous place for US troops in the whole of Iraq. Back in 2004/05 US troops took daily casualties in the area accounting for over a thousand deaths. This area dominated by the Sunni Sheiks had been Sadam's stronghold and after the occupation it became the scene of an unconventional alliance between former Sadam loyalists, bitter at the rise of the Shia, and foreign Al Quaeda fighters hell bent on causing carnage. However in the last two years or so, this relationship has soured to the current point where the Sunni Sheiks has launched an all out war on the foreign Jihadists. As a result the daily car bombings that killed scores in Baghdad have been reduced to a minimum.

Iraq's western province of Al Anbar has seen a dramatic decrease in attacks on coalition forces, even in Fallujah, marked above

Perhaps the yanks realising that if they tried to fight everyone they would lose, approached several Sunni militant groups and enticed them with incentives to turn on Al Quaeda. Or perhaps Al Zarqarwi and his gang simply got too violent for the Sheiks. Whatever the reason this Sunni u turn dramatically affected the security situation and as the democrats are trying to stress, it is this and not the surge that has caused the violence levels to drop.

Shia ceasefire
In addition to the above The Shia dominated Iraqi government in Baghdad have under immense US and regional pressure finally begun to crack down on militant shia groups that had previously been tolerated by the Al Maliki government. In May the Iraqi army without US support entered the Shia slum, Sadr City in an effort to stamp government authority on the city. Also in the wake of the British withdrawal from Basra the Iraqi army entered the city in order to flush out the militants that had begun to control the city after the vacuum. All information available to me claims that both these efforts were successful. Like the Sunni deal above the improvements in Shia areas have been brought about largely by under the radar deals. A ceasefire was agreed between coalition forces and Moqtada Al Sadr's Al Mahdi army back in August 2007. This has by and large been held. In the middle of all this you have the Surge, 30,000 extra troops in Baghdad. It is this show of force that the republicans emphasise as the cause of increasing stability making every effort to highlight that John McCain was in favor of it and Barack Obama against.

The ceasefire called by Moqtada Al Sadr in August 07 has held

Is this progress ? In my opinion yes. Everybody, even the fiercest critic of the war should be happy that violence is down. If you're not, then there is something wrong with you. Don't worry, these latest developments do not cancel out all the earlier blunders that makes the entire Iraq episode Americas worst foreign policy blunder of all time. But any development that eases the horror the Iraqi people have had to go through is a good thing. That being said we are still looking at a precarious situation. At any time the Shia ceasefire could collapse. Also, the Sunni Sheiks that have turned on Al Qaeda remain very suspicious of the Shia government in Baghdad. And there is serious tension because of the fact the the Sheiks are chasing down Al Quaeda themselves using forces known as the "Awakening Movement". These forces have no loyalty to Baghdad and it is feared by many that they may one day turn on the Iraqi government. Then there is the Iranian wild horse. In the event of an Israeli air strike on Iran the Iranians would be in a position to undo all this progress just like that. Frankly, I think it is likely that the violence has just burned itself out for a while and that it will probably return as bad as ever at any time. That's why I agree with Obama and anybody else who says, GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN !

No comments: