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Tony Makara

Although the surge may be getting results the big question still remains about what is going to happen long-term. I cannot see any way forward for Iraq under the current system. The way forward must involved autonomous regions operating under a greater Iraqi federation. The country will have to be broken up on way or another, either through a political settlement or through full blown civil war.

Adam in London

The regions are autonomous. Extraordinarily so. New oil discoveries belong to the provincial/regional governments, not the Iraqi national government. The Iraqi government cannot even deploy troops inside it's own territory without the permission of the relevant regional administration. Kurdistan is guarded by it's own peshmerga.

The surge was supposed to buy time and breathing space for a political settlement - is there any sign of that?

Tony Makara

Adam in London, thanks for that info. The surge can't go on forever and more pressure needs to be put on the playmakers in Iraq. I wonder how Clinton will deal with Iraq if she becomes president? Rush Limbaugh is convinced that she won't withdraw troops.


Nile Gardiner: "A British withdrawal from Iraq will be interpreted by the West's worst enemies as a display of weakness and portrayed as a major defeat for Britain."

"Interpreted" well maybe if the media can spin it successfully in the face of the evidence on the ground. Currently there are about 5500 troops. They WILL be down to 2500 in spring '08. What they largely are now is a presence and basically a non-active one at that. The last organized efforts by Brit forces that I know of were in June. Iraqi Special Operations Forces, backed by British troops, conducted major raids against the Qazali Network (Iranian backed) in the southern province of Maysan. I am aware of 9 major efforts, all successful, by US, non-Brit Coalition and Iraqi forces in central and southern Iraq against Iranian/Iranian-backed forces since then.

He states a reality of increasing Iranian control. I don't know where he gets that info. and, reading his take on the current status causes me to believe he is ill-informed or intentionally painting a one-sided picture. Like much of Iraq this is a complex situation. From the reading I've done most Iraqi Shia are... Iraqis. They don't like Iranian meddling because it is their country. You should read some of their comments, they think Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an ass. We're dealing with real people who do have the capacity to think for themselves. Outsiders like Mr. Gardiner tend to simplify into groups and group-think mentality, with labels. The Shia causing trouble are thought of by most of the residents as, surprise..."trouble makers." They are people trying to sow dissent and criminals. Much of the successes hunting and weeding them out are the result of the locals identifying them.

This is from Bill Roggio, in Iraq for a long time and one of the most all-around informed persons:

"First, the frequency and tone of the press releases concerning Iranian involvement in Iraq has not changed considerably over the past several weeks. I follow both Multinational Forces Iraq press releases the media’s coverage of Iranian involvement closely. My impression is that the number of press releases concerning the targeting of the Special Groups and the identification of munitions of Iranian origin has actually decreased over the past several weeks."


As much as we could use some dedicated and very capable Brit soldiers this will play out as more of a political problem for Bush with the associated propaganda and dire predictions for the anti-war/American media to exploit.

Iraq has also been a huge problem for British pride. I can sympathize with Mr. Gardiner but lets not make more of it, on the ground, where it counts.

I say let the Brits go altogether sometime in '08. We are already in the process of establishing bases at the most strategic supply routs on the border with Iran. American, Iraqi (Shia and Sunni), and Coalition forces are increasingly looking south.

Amongst all the defeatist predictions there is hope, for those who understand what hope means. I'll finish this with just 1 most recent example occurring, just yesterday:

Shiite leader Ammar al-Hakim in person with Sunni leader Ahmed Abu Risha in the heart of the Sunni Triangle: "Iraq does not belong to the Sunnis or the Shiites alone; nor does it belong to the Arabs or the Kurds and Turkomen. Today, we must stand up and declare that Iraq is for all Iraqis. We stand together in one trench to defeat Iraq's enemies."

Frogg, USA

I haven't heard of any big crisis coming up in the South since the Brits have scaled back. So, for me, the real question will be what the Brits do if the area starts to fall apart and needs their presence again.

There has been poltical success to go hand in hand with the surge; but, just not in the manner we expected. It isn't coming from the top down; it is very grassroots and is coming from the bottom up.

Also, many of the 'big ticket' political items the Coalition is putting pressure on the government to do, is already being done.....it's just not in their constitution yet. For example, there already is a sharing of oil revenues (thought he final agreement is still pending), etc. The top Sunni, Shite, and Kurd leaders in the Iraq government have reached agreements on the big issues.....however; the Parliment is still wrestling with them.

Smaller acts of reconciliation say more to me. A few weeks ago when the Sunni leader of the Anbar Awakening was assasinated.....it was a Shite Shiek, who named a school after him in the heart of a Shite area.....calling him a hero to Iraq. Sunni and Shite Shieks by the hundreds have also banned together and signed an agreement to stop fighting each other and to fight al Qaeda together.

Small steps, perhaps. But, many great things in history began with steps even smaller than this.


You know Frogg, emphasizing the roots up reality cannot be over done. In my readings of Iraqi sentiments sectarian differences are almost non-existent except for what seems to be a sprinkling ofsome fire brand clerics. The main animosity between Iraqis resulted from Saddam's era of privileged rule and al Qaeda, Sadr and others trying to foment civil war which has failed. Most people at this point just want peace. I am amazed watching communities free or freer from what is now largely al Qaeda terror and to a lesser extent Iranian backed groups and under the security of Coalition and Iraqi forces begin to pick the pieces up and prosper, with aspirations. There is a long ways to go but there is growing cooperation and hope where it needs to develop.

And we can't forget the substantial improvement of Iraqi army and police security forces. These are increasingly integrated and getting more capable every month.

Frogg, USA

Even more good news today, Steevo:

Reconciliation in Iraq goes local

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer
Wed Oct 17, 4:18 PM ET



A very good article Frogg, especially coming from Yahoo AP who have been largely antagonistic in our efforts. Little by little more MSM are willing to break ranks so to speak. This is the meeting I mentioned above.

This looks good huh?

"In what could be another landmark visit, the Anbar leaders have said they wanted to travel to the Shiite holy city of Najaf to meet with Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani."

And this, interesting... but I'm not at all surprised.

"The Bush administration is backing away from maximal goals and quietly working toward a workable and doable Iraq," said Vali Nasr, who lectures at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. "Now we have more manageable goals."

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