Monday, June 11, 2007

The al-Anbar 'model' and 'success'

On the front page of this morning's New York Times you'll find John F. Burns and Alissa J. Rubin's "U.S. Arming Sunnis in Iraq to Battle Old Qaeda Allies" which tells you that (as in Vietnam) when the US has nothing left to try on the ground, they decide to arm groups they previously labeled enemies. In this case, the so-called al Anbar model is being implemented. Allegedly the model is a success (we'll get back to that) and now Sunni groups are being vetted to decide which will support the US and which are too (allegedly) tied to al Qaeda. Burns and Rubin tell you that the US "has spent more than $15 billion in building up Iraq's army and police force" and we all know how that's (not) worked out. There are objections within the US military brass to the latest (non) plan. But those with concerns are expected to accept retinal scans and fingerprints as some sort of peace making process (those Sunnis who will be armed and funded by the US will have to provide both).

"But officials of Mr. Maliki's govenment have placed strict limits on the Sunni groups they are willing to countenance," the article notes. The decision to fund and arm appears to reflect on this: "With the agreement to arm some Sunni groups, the Americans also appear to have made a tacit recognition that earlier demands for the disarming of Shiite militia groups are politically unachievable given the refusal of powerful Shiite political parties to go along."

Translation: Disarming failed.

The success of the al-Anbar model? Success appears to be one-hit wonders to the US military. al-Anbar is not at peace -- not that most journalists could tell you one way or another from first hand experience -- and it's only been the huge failure in the latest version of the year-long-and-counting 'crackdown' in Baghdad that's made al-Anbar look peaceful. If you stop a moment, you'll remember the month of March when the 'crackdown' was 'working' and suddenly it was a 'success'. You may also remember reports on the rising deaths of US soldiers in al-Anbar province. Or maybe you remember last Tuesday's bombing that killed 15 people? Or maybe the chlorine bombings that Alexandra Zavis and Garrett Therolf (Los Angeles Times) reported just last week. 10% of US service members who died last month died from attacks in al-Anbar province and it's only been the utter failure of the latest version of Capital Crackdown 5.3 that's led al-Anbar to look like a success. (Add in the growing violence in Diyala Province.) Instead of noting those and other realities, the US military wants to point to an extreme failure and argue, by comparison, that it's a success and a 'model' to be emulated.

But does any of that even matter? Martha notes Joshua Partlow and John Ward Anderson's
"Tribal Coalition in Anbar Said to Be Crumbling" (Washington Post) which indicates the military's spit polish is already in question:

A tribal coalition formed to oppose the extremist group al-Qaeda in Iraq, a development that U.S. officials say has reduced violence in Iraq's troubled Anbar province, is beginning to splinter, according to an Anbar tribal leader and a U.S. military official familiar with tribal politics.In an interview in his Baghdad office, Ali Hatem Ali Suleiman, 35, a leader of the Dulaim confederation, the largest tribal organization in Anbar, said that the Anbar Salvation Council would be dissolved because of growing internal dissatisfaction over its cooperation with U.S. soldiers and the behavior of the council's most prominent member, Abdul Sattar Abu Risha. Suleiman called Abu Risha a "traitor" who "sells his beliefs, his religion and his people for money."

Bonnie reminds me to note that Kat's "Kat's Korner: Summertime Hammond," "Ruth's Report" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Bye-bye" went up this weekend.

Brad notes that Law and Disorder (airs on various radio stations and streams online -- airs on WBAI this morning at 10:00 EST) will have Tod Ensign (Citizen Soldier and Different Drumer Cafe) on and discuss conscientious objectors and war resisters in terms of this illegal war and the Vietnam era. Different Drummer Cafe is the first GI coffee house of this illegal war.

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