Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Drawdown begins

From Juan Cole:

The US military has begun to reverse last year's troop escalation, which brought the number of combat brigades in Iraq up to 20. It is now going back down to 19, and will stand at 15 in July of 2008 if things go according to plan. That is, the number of US troops in Iraq on the eve of the 2008 election will be about 140,000. If the "take, clear and hold" strategy of clearing guerrillas out of Baghdad neighborhoods has been successful, and if Iraqi security forces can continue the "hold" stage on their own, and if Sunni Arab guerrillas and Shiite militias don't reemerge in the neighborhoods that the US abandons in the capital, then violence looks set to hold at some 10,000 civilian deaths a year.

That level of violence is horrible, among the worst in the world. But the American Right, having promised us garlands, then democracy and secularism, then peace both in Iraq and in Israel & Palestine, has finally declared that an ongoing low intensity guerrilla war is a glorious victory and is 'turning the corner.'

My best guess is that Iraqis will go on fighting their three wars, for control of Basra among Shiite militiamen; for control of Baghdad and its hinterlands between Sunnis and Shiites; and for control of Kirkuk among Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen. They will fight these wars to a conclusion or a stalemate. It is only the battle for Baghdad that has been fought at a lower intensity because of the American surge in any case, and I would be surprised if it does not start back up as US troops leave. Violence in all three wars was reported by McClatchy for Monday, with bombings and mortar attacks continuing in Baghdad albeit on a reduced scale. Violence in Kirkuk, and in the northern Sunni hinterland of Baghdad (Samarra) was already reported for today early Tuesday morning.

Read the rest of his post. Things aren't going as well as they seem when you incorporate ALL of the violence vs. the violence the Pentagon wants to recognize. Less troops should mean we're closer to victory, but as Juan Cole suggests, that's pretty unlikely. We've really gone beyond clusterfuck status in Iraq. It's no longer just an issue of us being there or not, we've potentially created the battleground for nearly every major conflict in the Middle East.

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