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Thread: US Now Arming Sunnis in Iraq- Is this wise in the long run?

  1. #1

    US Now Arming Sunnis in Iraq- Is this wise in the long run?

    [QUOTE][B]U.S. Arming Sunnis in Iraq to Battle Old Qaeda Allies [/B]
    By JOHN F. BURNS and ALISSA J. RUBIN
    BAGHDAD, June 10 — With the four-month-old increase in American troops showing only modest success in curbing insurgent attacks, American commanders are turning to another strategy that they acknowledge is fraught with risk: [B]arming Sunni Arab groups that have promised to fight militants linked with Al Qaeda who have been their allies in the past[/B].

    American commanders say they have successfully tested the strategy in Anbar Province west of Baghdad and have held talks with Sunni groups in at least four areas of central and north-central Iraq where the insurgency has been strong. In some cases, the American commanders say, the Sunni groups are suspected of involvement in past attacks on American troops or of having links to such groups. Some of these groups, they say, have been provided, usually through Iraqi military units allied with the Americans, with arms, ammunition, cash, fuel and supplies.

    American officers who have engaged in what they call outreach to the Sunni groups say many of them have had past links to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia but grew disillusioned with the Islamic militants’ extremist tactics, particularly suicide bombings that have killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. In exchange for American backing, these officials say, the Sunni groups have agreed to fight Al Qaeda and halt attacks on American units. Commanders who have undertaken these negotiations say that in some cases, Sunni groups have agreed to alert American troops to the location of roadside bombs and other lethal booby traps.

    But critics of the strategy, including some American officers, say it could amount to the Americans’ arming both sides in a future civil war. The United States has spent more than $15 billion in building up Iraq’s army and police force, whose manpower of 350,000 is heavily Shiite. With an American troop drawdown increasingly likely in the next year, and little sign of a political accommodation between Shiite and Sunni politicians in Baghdad, the critics say, there is a risk that any weapons given to Sunni groups will eventually be used against Shiites. There is also the possibility the weapons could be used against the Americans themselves.

    American field commanders met this month in Baghdad with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Iraq, to discuss the conditions Sunni groups would have to meet to win American assistance. Senior officers who attended the meeting said that General Petraeus and the operational commander who is the second-ranking American officer here, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, gave cautious approval to field commanders to negotiate with Sunni groups in their areas.

    One commander who attended the meeting said that despite the risks in arming groups that have until now fought against the Americans, the potential gains against Al Qaeda were too great to be missed. He said the strategy held out the prospect of finally driving a wedge between two wings of the Sunni insurgency that had previously worked in a devastating alliance — die-hard loyalists of Saddam Hussein’s formerly dominant Baath Party, and Islamic militants belonging to a constellation of groups linked to Al Qaeda.

    Even if only partly successful, the officer said, the strategy could do as much or more to stabilize Iraq, and to speed American troops on their way home, as the increase in troops ordered by President Bush late last year, which has thrown nearly 30,000 additional American troops into the war but failed so far to fulfill the aim of bringing enhanced stability to Baghdad. An initial decline in sectarian killings in Baghdad in the first two months of the troop buildup has reversed, with growing numbers of bodies showing up each day in the capital. Suicide bombings have dipped in Baghdad but increased elsewhere, as Qaeda groups, confronted with great American troop numbers, have shifted their operations elsewhere.

    The strategy of arming Sunni groups was first tested earlier this year in Anbar Province, the desert hinterland west of Baghdad, and attacks on American troops plunged after tribal sheiks, angered by Qaeda strikes that killed large numbers of Sunni civilians, recruited thousands of men to join government security forces and the tribal police. With Qaeda groups quitting the province for Sunni havens elsewhere, Anbar has lost its long-held reputation as the most dangerous place in Iraq for American troops.

    Now, the Americans are testing the “Anbar model” across wide areas of Sunni-dominated Iraq. The areas include parts of Baghdad, notably the Sunni stronghold of Amiriya, a district that flanks the highway leading to Baghdad’s international airport; the area south of the capital in Babil province known as the Triangle of Death, site of an ambush in which four American soldiers were killed last month and three others abducted, one of whose bodies was found in the Euphrates; Diyala Province north and east of Baghdad, an area of lush palm groves and orchards which has replaced Anbar as Al Qaeda’s main sanctuary in Iraq; and Salahuddin Province, also north of Baghdad, the home area of Saddam Hussein.

    Although the American engagement with the Sunni groups has brought some early successes against Al Qaeda, particularly in Anbar, many of the problems that hampered earlier American efforts to reach out to insurgents remain unchanged. American commanders say the Sunni groups they are negotiating with show few signs of wanting to work with the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. For their part, Shiite leaders are deeply suspicious of any American move to co-opt Sunni groups that are wedded to a return to Sunni political dominance.

    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 for now given the refusal of powerful Shiite political parties to shed their armed wings. In effect, the Americans seem to have concluded that as long as the Shiites maintain their militias, Shiite leaders are in a poor position to protest the arming of Sunni groups whose activities will be under close American scrutiny.

    But officials of Mr. Maliki’s government have placed strict limits on the Sunni groups they are willing to countenance as allies in the fight against Al Qaeda. One leading Shiite politician, Sheik Khalik al-Atiyah, the deputy Parliament speaker, said in a recent interview that he would rule out any discussion of an amnesty for Sunni Arab insurgents, even those who commit to fighting Al Qaeda. Similarly, many American commanders oppose rewarding Sunni Arab groups who have been responsible, even tangentially, for any of the more than 29,000 American casualties in the war, including more than 3,500 deaths. Equally daunting for American commanders is the risk that Sunni groups receiving American backing could effectively double-cross the Americans, taking weapons and turning them against American and Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government forces.

    Americans officers acknowledge that providing weapons to breakaway rebel groups is not new in counterinsurgency warfare, and that in places where it has been tried before, including the French colonial war in Algeria, the British-led fight against insurgents in Malaya in the early 1950s, and in Vietnam, the effort often backfired, with weapons given to the rebels being turned against the forces providing them. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the Third Infantry Division and leader of an American task force fighting in a wide area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers immediately south of Baghdad, said at a briefing for reporters on Sunday that no American support would be given to any Sunni group that had attacked Americans. If the Americans negotiating with Sunni groups in his area had “specific information” that the group or any of its members had killed Americans, he said, “The negotiation is going to go like this: ‘You’re under arrest, and you’re going with me.’ I’m not going to go out and negotiate with folks who have American blood on their hands.”

    One of the conditions set by the American commanders who met in Baghdad was that any group receiving weapons must submit its fighters for biometric tests that would include taking fingerprints and retinal scans. The American conditions, senior officers said, also include registering the serial numbers of all weapons, steps the Americans believe will help in tracing fighters who use the weapons in attacks against American or Iraqi troops. The fighters who have received American backing in the Amiriya district of Baghdad were required to undergo the tests, the officers said.

    The requirement that no support be given to insurgent groups that have attacked Americans appeared to have been set aside or loosely enforced in negotiations with the Sunni groups elsewhere, including Amiriya, where American units that have supported Sunni groups fighting to oust Al Qaeda have told reporters they believe that the Sunni groups include insurgents who had fought the Americans. The Americans have bolstered Sunni groups in Amiriya by empowering them to detain suspected Qaeda fighters and approving ammunition supplies to Sunni fighters from Iraqi Army units.

    In Anbar, there have been negotiations with factions from the 1920 Revolution Brigades, a Sunni insurgent group with strong Baathist links that has a history of attacking Americans. In Diyala, insurgents who have joined the Iraqi Army have told reporters that they switched sides after working for the 1920 group. And in an agreement announced by the American command on Sunday, 130 tribal sheiks in Salahuddin met in the provincial capital, Tikrit, to form police units that would “defend” against Al Qaeda.

    General Lynch said American commanders would face hard decisions in choosing which groups to support. “This isn’t a black and white place,” he said. “There are good guys and bad guys and there are groups in between,” and separating them was a major challenge. He said some groups that had approached the Americans had made no secret of their enmity.

    “They say, ‘We hate you because you are occupiers’ ” he said, “ ‘but we hate Al Qaeda worse, and we hate the Persians even more.’ ” Sunni militants refer to Iraq’s Shiites as Persians, a reference to the strong links between Iraqi Shiites and the Shiites who predominate in Iran.

    An Iraqi government official who was reached by telephone on Sunday said the government was uncomfortable with the American negotiations with the Sunni groups because they offered no guarantee that the militias would be loyal to anyone other than the American commander in their immediate area. “The government’s aim is to disarm and demobilize the militias in Iraq,” said Sadiq al-Rikabi, a political adviser to Mr. Maliki. “And we have enough militias in Iraq that we are struggling now to solve the problem. Why are we creating new ones?”

    Despite such views, General Lynch said, the Americans believed that Sunni groups offering to fight Al Qaeda and halt attacks on American and Iraqi forces met a basic condition for re-establishing stability in insurgent-hit areas: they had roots in the areas where they operated, and thus held out the prospect of building security from the ground up. He cited areas in Babil Province where there were “no security forces, zero, zilch,” and added: “When you’ve got people who say, ‘I want to protect my neighbors,’ we ought to jump like a duck on a june bug.”

    [url]http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/11/world/middleeast/11iraq.html?hp[/url]
    [/QUOTE]

    What are we doing?
    Does this make much sense in the long run? We are arming the Sunnis to attack AQ (who they view as an enemy) yet these same sunnis also view the Shia as their enemy, especially the ruling Shia Government. So on the one hand we say we are supporting the Iraqi "democracy" but at the same time we are arming the "democracies" enemies?

    Not a good sign!

  2. #2
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    [QUOTE=kennyo7]Does this make much sense in the long run?[/QUOTE]


    You have to look at it through the eyes of the people running this war...
    [IMG]http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b314/tmcatee/crosseyed_louie_499y.jpg[/IMG]


    That being said...whats the worse that can happen? Ixnay on the Osamay Bin Ladinay...

  3. #3
    [QUOTE=PlumberKhan]You have to look at it through the eyes of the people running this war...
    [IMG]http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b314/tmcatee/crosseyed_louie_499y.jpg[/IMG]


    That being said...whats the worse that can happen? Ixnay on the Osamay Bin Ladinay...[/QUOTE]

    I dont know whether to laugh or cry.
    It seems this country can never learn from its past mistakes.
    This stems largely from this administration's inability to define its goals for Iraq. Who are we supporting and what is our long term hopes for this nation?

  4. #4
    [QUOTE=kennyo7]It seems this country can never learn from its past mistakes.[/QUOTE]

    Finally, something you say that I agree with. However, I lay blame not at only one Party, because both have failed.

  5. #5
    [QUOTE=Warfish]Finally, something you say that I agree with. However, I lay blame not at only one Party, because both have failed.[/QUOTE]

    True that

  6. #6
    [QUOTE=Warfish]Finally, something you say that I agree with. However, I lay blame not at only one Party, because both have failed.[/QUOTE]




    Your not kidding. I just keep waiting for someone to come forword and put us back on track.

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=kennyo7]What are we doing?
    Does this make much sense in the long run? We are arming the Sunnis to attack AQ (who they view as an enemy) yet these same sunnis also view the Shia as their enemy, especially the ruling Shia Government. So on the one hand we say we are supporting the Iraqi "democracy" but at the same time we are arming the "democracies" enemies?

    Not a good sign![/QUOTE]

    Never mind that Al Qaeda is a Sunni outfit, this is a terrible idea.

    We cannot be taking sides in a Civil War. What we need to do is keep just enough troops there to prevent an outright massacre and try to bring the two parties to the table to reach some sort of resolution.

    If we are seen as on the "Sunni side," the Shia will not trust us and any credibility we have as an honest broker will be shot.

    What a clusterf*ck this is.

  8. #8
    [QUOTE=chicadeel]Your not kidding. I just keep waiting for someone to come forword and put us back on track.[/QUOTE]


    Sorry, chicadeel... I'm not trying to be an a$$hole or offensive here, but we're not cows. We don't need to be led to some pasture.

    We live in a democracy. The responsibility of society fall on yours, mine, and everybody else's shoulders.

    Societies that wait for Heroes to put them on the right track end up with Bonaparte, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and so on.

    If Americans don't want to participate in the rigors of living in a democratic state because they just don't have the time to pay attention, then I suggest we should find a benevolent dictator to watch over us. This way we can go on working, shopping, and vacationing and not be bothered with time consuming things such as democracy.

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=finlee17]Sorry, chicadeel... I'm not trying to be an a$$hole or offensive here, but we're not cows. We don't need to be led to some pasture.

    We live in a democracy. The responsibility of society fall on yours, mine, and everybody else's shoulders.

    Societies that wait for Heroes to put them on the right track end up with Bonaparte, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and so on.

    If Americans don't want to participate in the rigors of living in a democratic state because they just don't have the time to pay attention, then I suggest we should find a benevolent dictator to watch over us. This way we can go on working, shopping, and vacationing and not be bothered with time consuming things such as democracy.[/QUOTE]

    What exactly is your suggestion then? One can only vote once you know.

  10. #10
    [QUOTE=nuu faaola][B]Never mind that Al Qaeda is a Sunni outfit[/B], this is a terrible idea.

    We cannot be taking sides in a Civil War. What we need to do is keep just enough troops there to prevent an outright massacre and try to bring the two parties to the table to reach some sort of resolution.

    If we are seen as on the "Sunni side," the Shia will not trust us and any credibility we have as an honest broker will be shot.

    What a clusterf*ck this is.[/QUOTE]

    I disagree with this bolded statement.
    We have to realize that even within Sunni and Shia groups there are subsegments that donot agree with each other and view each other as enemies. For instance AQ/Foreign Sunni Terrorists do not view the Baathists and Sunni Revivalists as allies. They each have different agendas and all are trying to gain power. While they all are Sunni ethnically and share the Shia as an enemy, they also view each other as a threat.

    Empowering the Sunnis against the AQ may help in combatting AQ (which represents a very small fraction of the insurgency) but it also potentially strengthens them in fighting the Shia as well, particularly the ruling Shia democracy which we supposedly are tryingg to protect.

    But you are right, this is one big clusterf*ck that was predicted by most ME experts and could have been avoided by not foolishly invading Iraq

  11. #11
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    [QUOTE=finlee17]Sorry, chicadeel... I'm not trying to be an a$$hole or offensive here, but we're not cows. We don't need to be led to some pasture.

    We live in a democracy. The responsibility of society fall on yours, mine, and everybody else's shoulders.

    Societies that wait for Heroes to put them on the right track end up with Bonaparte, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and so on.

    If Americans don't want to participate in the rigors of living in a democratic state because they just don't have the time to pay attention, then I suggest we should find a benevolent dictator to watch over us. This way we can go on working, shopping, and vacationing and not be bothered with time consuming things such as democracy.[/QUOTE]


    Maybe if we voted with scratchy Lotto tickets more people would vote... ;)

  12. #12
    [QUOTE=kennyo7]I disagree with this bolded statement.
    We have to realize that even within Sunni and Shia groups there are subsegments that donot agree with each other and view each other as enemies. For instance AQ/Foreign Sunni Terrorists do not view the Baathists and Sunni Revivalists as allies. They each have different agendas and all are trying to gain power. While they all are Sunni ethnically and share the Shia as an enemy, they also view each other as a threat.

    Empowering the Sunnis against the AQ may help in combatting AQ (which represents a very small fraction of the insurgency) but it also potentially strengthens them in fighting the Shia as well, particularly the ruling Shia democracy which we supposedly are tryingg to protect.

    But you are right, this is one big clusterf*ck that was predicted by most ME experts and could have been avoided by not foolishly invading Iraq[/QUOTE]

    Fair point. I didn't mean to imply that all Sunnis were in AQ, of course. Virtually all All of Saudi Arabia is Sunni.

    I do think, however, that taking sides in a civil war is bad policy.

  13. #13
    [QUOTE=Warfish]What exactly is your suggestion then? One can only vote once you know.[/QUOTE]

    My suggestion? If you’re looking for some grand and abstract solution, you’re asking the wrong person. We just need to identify reality, focus on our limitations, and carefully rebalance our priorities.

    There is no overnight solution to any of these problems that are argued on this board. And even if there was one, our current representative government wouldn’t be able to put one on the table because the whole point of having a representative government is to slow down the decision making process to deliberate. If you’re looking for an efficient government that moves quickly to get stuff done, then you should be looking for an authoritarian government because sending 100s of representatives to Capital Hill to argue over issues is clearly an inefficient and slow process.

    Our government is designed to argue, create differences, and have an absence of truth. It was modeled after argumentative Greek and Roman senates and not the grand entry of some Hero like Bonaparte or Mussolini. People need to realize this. The best way to overcome our problems is to constantly choose, find, and develop practical options for the common good. It's a slow and tiresome process where nobody wins because we can only compromise.

    I don’t have any grand idea to make this country better. I leave that to the right and left and the ideologies that they pitch themselves to. They’re the ones with the answers. Me… I just give my time and effort by currently serving my country in the USMC reserves, voting, attending jury duty when called, pay my taxes without too much b!tching, boring myself to death at town meetings, and trying desperately to get along with people I don’t really like. I do my best to avoid hypnotic clarity of false choices (i.e. ideology) and focus on the public good. I just expect everybody else to do the same.
    Last edited by finlee17; 06-11-2007 at 02:28 PM.

  14. #14
    [QUOTE=PlumberKhan]Maybe if we voted with scratchy Lotto tickets more people would vote... ;)[/QUOTE]


    Ha... or turn the election process into a reality show by dropping our candidates on an island.

  15. #15
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    [QUOTE=finlee17]Ha... or turn the election process into a reality show by dropping our candidates on an island.[/QUOTE]


    This would be much better... [url]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlAkOhH9eek[/url]

    :D

  16. #16
    [QUOTE=nuu faaola]Fair point. I didn't mean to imply that all Sunnis were in AQ, of course. Virtually all All of Saudi Arabia is Sunni.

    I do think, however, that taking sides in a civil war is bad policy.[/QUOTE]

    Agreed.

  17. #17
    [QUOTE=finlee17]Sorry, chicadeel... I'm not trying to be an a$$hole or offensive here, but we're not cows. We don't need to be led to some pasture.

    We live in a democracy. The responsibility of society fall on yours, mine, and everybody else's shoulders.

    Societies that wait for Heroes to put them on the right track end up with Bonaparte, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and so on.

    If Americans don't want to participate in the rigors of living in a democratic state because they just don't have the time to pay attention, then I suggest we should find a benevolent dictator to watch over us. This way we can go on working, shopping, and vacationing and not be bothered with time consuming things such as democracy.[/QUOTE]





    Finlee- Now I'm not trying to be an ***hole either but how does wanting someone to step forward and put this country back on track have any relation to Hitler, Mussolini, etc.? Unfortunately the cow reference does apply to some people. Some people will just follow blindly.

    What I'm saying is that I want someone who is not a bull*****er to step forward and say what they mean and do what they say. I want to know exactly what I am voting for and what I will be getting when I vote. Some societies who waited for Heroes got Lenin and Stalin. We got Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.
    Last edited by chicadeel; 06-11-2007 at 03:59 PM.

  18. #18
    [QUOTE=PlumberKhan]Maybe if we voted with scratchy Lotto tickets more people would vote... ;)[/QUOTE]



    Maybe if we could vote online more people would vote.

  19. #19
    [QUOTE=chicadeel]Maybe if we could vote online more people would vote.[/QUOTE]

    Hell no! If they can't get off their lazy, uncaring asses for one day and go vote, I absolutely don't want their voices heard.

    As far as the thread topic; bad idea. I thought we were already training and arming the Iraqi forces. To arm an outside segment, to me, is insane.

  20. #20
    [QUOTE=WJGC]

    As far as the thread topic; bad idea. I thought we were already training and arming the Iraqi forces. To arm an outside segment, to me, is insane.[/QUOTE]

    Has there ever been a more obvious vote of no confidence in the Iraqi forces than this?

    The whole point of the surge, we were told, was to buy the Iraqi forces time to get prepared to take over. If they were anywhere close, we wouldn't be funding sectarian militias on the side.

    This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

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