Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Paying the Price for Playing Both Sides

It all looked so clear when Bush/Cheney invaded Iraq. It was all about toppling Saddam and cleaning out the Sunni's Baathist regime.

That went pretty well except that Washington found itself with a bunch Iraq's great unwashed, its Shiites, demanding democracy of all things - neatly put, a transfer of the political reins from Sunni to Shia control. Ouch! Shiites in control, just 'cause they're the majority?

In one blistering moment of clarity amidst a thick fog of idiocy, the White House realized it had just made Shiite controlled Iran, the dominant power in the region. Its options were rapidly being foreclosed.

Oh dear. Then followed the kiss and make up moment with Iraq's Sunni leadership. The Americans even gave the "former" insurgents (ha, ha, ha) weapons and equipment so they could fight al-Qaeda terrorists. Now the Shiite government in Baghdad saw the US lavishing arms on he very group they know they're going to have to fight once the Yanks leave. Grrrrrreat!

Not to worry. Roughly a billion dollars worth of arms and equipment has somehow vanished from the Abu Ghraib compound. The stuff has vanished alright, that is if you don't bother following the tire tracks to the Shiite militias.

Isn't that great. Iraq's enormous weapons shortage has now been relieved!

But there were always the Kurds in the north to remain America's trusted and grateful allies. Not so much as you might think. First there was the poison pill of the Kurdish Autonomous Region's constitution that managed to get infiltrated, er incorporated into the Iraq constitution. This is the deal that will likely lead to the Arab-Kurd war over Kirkuk.

And then there's the Turks and their own Kurdish rebels. Now the Kurdish rebels, or freedom fighters, or terrorists, have been using northern Iraq as a safe haven from which to raid targets in Turkey. In response the Turks sent about 100,000 forces to the Iraq border.

The Americans have tried to get Turkey to back off but Ankara is in virtually the same moral position as Israel was when it invaded Lebanon last year to go after Hezbollah - with complete American support. So, Turkey's now saying "me too, me too" and has launched air strikes and even a small ground raid into the Kurdish Autonomous Region.

Then word leaked out that the Americans are helping the Turks target Kurdish sites inside Iraq. The Iraqi Kurds are livid. So is the Baghdad government even though it's Arab dominated.

What to do, what to do? The Sunni don't trust them and the Shiite don't trust them and, now, the Kurds don't trust them. Best send Condi to Iraq to soothe hurt feelings.

I think even the Bushies are realizing you can only play this game so many times before it gets old. That message got delivered to Condi today when the head of the Kurdish Autonomous Region, President Massoud Barzani, refused to meet with her. From BBC:

Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said: "It was decided that Massoud Barzani would go to Baghdad to take part in a meeting with Condoleezza Rice and other officials, but he will not go now as a sign of protest against the American position on the bombings by Turkey.

"It is unacceptable that the United States, in charge of monitoring our airspace, authorised Turkey to bomb our villages," he said.

1 comment:

Johnathon said...
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