Rebuilding Iraq–or not

Well, I had written a very witty post–when the laptop decided to be finicky. Oh well.

Briefly, because my battery’s about to die here:

The flight of companies out of Iraq is probably going to start very soon. May have already begun, for all I know.

“We’ll give it another week. If it doesn’t improve, we’ll have to leave,” says Trevor Holborn of the Amman-based Shaheen Group, one of hundreds of foreign workers who have suspended their operations and headed for shelter inside the walls of the Green Zone, the heavily fortified enclave where the occupation has its headquarters.

Now the Shaheen Group’s one of the bigger outfits in Iraq. It’s not Halliburton or Bechtel, but it’s got some heft. If they’re thinking of splitting, then others are as well. Can’t say that I blame them, but given that I mentioned the implications for our forces, this isn’t good news.

Good news: negotiations are underway with Muqtada al-Sadr.
Bad news: we’ve got the city of Najaf surrounded by at least 2,500 U.S. troops, our commanders on the ground are still talking about killing him or capturing him, and CPA spokesman Dan Senor’s denying that we’re negotiating. Oh, and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose support is critical to this not becoming a slaughterhouse, is warning us not to go into Najaf and/or Karbala, saying that if we do, then he’ll have no choice but to fight us to his last breath.

al-Sadr may be a thug; but al-Sistani’s the capo di capi of all the Iraqi Shi’a. If we lose his backing (and he’s been very generous and patient with us, even as we’ve fought him at every step), then it’s game over. We may be able to deal with the Sunni insurgency; there’s no way that we can deal with both the Sunnis and the Shi’a at the same time; we simply don’t have the manpower or the resources, and I suspect that we don’t have the will to kill that many Iraqis in the name of Iraqi freedom and liberty. And we’d have to kill a lot of them in order to quell that rebellion.

Look, let’s not go down that route; let’s work out whatever we have to work out with al-Sadr, and keep our heads cool. If we don’t, then what we’ve seen so far is merely a preview to the nightmare that will follow. And it will follow.

George Santayana once said, “Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them”. It seems we’re bound to prove him right.

I mentioned Iranian involvement in Iraq, and how the pro-war bloggers were all panting for al-Sadr to have ties to Iran. Maybe he does; but if so, they’re pretty weak. If you’re looking for someone with real ties to Iran; someone who will do Tehran’s bidding, you need look no further than Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who heads the Dawa Party. al-Jaafari received asylum and training in Qom during the 1980s; he led (with his party) a low-level insurgency against Saddam’s regime for nearly two decades; and most importantly, fought against Iraq on Iran’s side during the first Gulf War. That last should really set alarm bells ringing; Iraqis, as a rule, are fairly nationalistic, and Shi’a Iraqis more so, since they have to deal with accusations that they’re some sort of fifth-column.

So why aren’t we paying attention to him? Well, two reasons come to mind: he’s on the Governing Council, and he’s denounced al-Sadr.

Guys, we may have mistaken the joker for the ace of spades. And if so, then this may really come back to bite us hard.

I’ll be attending the Colorado caucuses tonight; if Internet access is available, I’ll be blogging them live. I’ll also keep tabs on the President’s news conference, but I don’t think news will be made there. I could be wrong; we’ll see. There is a reason, after all, why this President hasn’t held many news conferences.

Lastly, thanks to Jim Henley and Diana Moon for the nice, nice words. And for those of you coming here for the first time, welcome. Just so you know, I’m back from Iraq for good, but who knows? Given how badly we’ve managed to screw the pooch, those may be famous last words.

Anyway, welcome. Feel free to browse around, and if so inclined, drop me a line, either in comments or email.


One response to “Rebuilding Iraq–or not

  1. According to the BBC, it’s starting:

    Foreign Workers Told to Quit Iraq

    Russia’s biggest contractor in Iraq, Tekhpromexport, is pulling its 370 staff out of Iraq amid security concerns.