"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

How We'll Know When We've Won

From Frederick W. Kagan at The Weekly Standard. Mr. Kagan reviews the war's objectives in Iraq.

Virtually everyone who wants to win this war agrees: Success will have been achieved when Iraq is a stable, representative state that controls its own territory, is oriented toward the West, and is an ally in the struggle against militant Islamism, whether Sunni or Shia.

So, how are we and the Iraqi government doing in these areas?

Stability. Violence is the most obvious indicator of instability and the easiest to measure. The fact that violence has fallen dramatically in Iraq since the end of 2006 is evidence of improving stability. But critics are right to point out that areas tend to be peaceful both when government forces control them completely and when insurgents control them completely. Violence can drop either because the government is winning or because insurgents are consolidating their gains. So in addition to counting casualties and attacks, it is necessary to evaluate whether government control has been expanding or contracting. In fact, it has expanded dramatically over the past 15 months.

Not a lot of argument about increased stability in Iraq. What about representative government?

Representative government. The Iraqi government is the product of two elections. The Sunni Arabs boycotted the first, with the result that Iraq's provincial councils and governors do not reflect its ethno-sectarian make-up. The second saw a large Sunni Arab turnout and the seating of a multiethnic, multisectarian government in Baghdad. The Iraqi government recently passed a law calling for provincial elections later this year, and the United Nations special envoy to Iraq, Steffan de Mistura, has been consulting with Baghdad about the details of the election, including efforts to ensure that the various committees overseeing it are not unduly influenced by militias or political parties. Surveys show that the Iraqis are nearly unanimous in their desire to vote, particularly in Sunni areas. The Anbar Awakening has turned into a political movement, introducing political pluralism into Sunni Arab politics for the first time. Similar movements, including the splintering of Moktada al-Sadr's "Sadrist Trend," are underway more haltingly among the Shia.

Counter arguments can be brought about a representative government, but provincial elections later this year and national elections next year will show whether or not a representative government exists and can transition in Iraq. What about terroritial control?

Control of territory. The restoration of large urban and rural areas formerly held by insurgents and militias to government control is a key indicator of Iraqi progress. And there are others: the Maliki government's determination to clear Basra and Sadr City of militia influence; Iraqi operations to clear Mosul of al Qaeda fighters; the dramatic growth of the Iraqi Security Forces in 2007 and the further growth underway in 2008. There is anecdotal confirmation of this progress, such as the dramatic decline in the number of illegal militia-controlled checkpoints, most of them set up in and around Baghdad in 2006 for purposes of control, extortion, and murder.

Again, there can be no argument here. Iraqi Security Forces are controlling more and more of their territory as they become larger and more capable.

Orientation toward the West. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Iraq in March 2008 and was warmly received, prompting concern in the United States that the Iraqi government was tilting toward Tehran....

A closer examination shows this to be false....

It has asked the United Nations to endorse the Multinational Force mission supporting it, a mission that includes American forces--but not Iranian ones. It has requested a bilateral security agreement with the United States--and not with Iran. It has determined to purchase American weapons and equipment for its armed forces, to replace the Warsaw Pact gear it had been using--and has not requested equipment from Iran or its principal international suppliers, Russia and China. Baghdad is organizing, training, and equipping its military and police forces to be completely interoperable with the United States--and not with Iran.

Mr Kagan makes a great point here. Iraq will stand with the United States if the United States stands with Iraq. They have clearly showed this fact to be true.

An ally in the war on terror. Al Qaeda has killed many more Iraqis than Americans. Iraq has eight army divisions--around 80,000 troops--now in the fight against al Qaeda, and another three--around 45,000 troops--in the fight against Shia extremists. Tens of thousands of Iraqi police and National Police are also in the fight. Thus, there are far more Iraqis fighting al Qaeda and Shia militias in Iraq than there are American troops there. Easily ten times as many Iraqi as Pakistani troops are fighting our common enemies. At least three times as many Iraqi soldiers and police as Afghan soldiers and police are in the fight. And many times more Iraqi troops are engaged in the war on terror than those of any other American ally. In terms of manpower engaged, and sacrifice of life and limb, Iraq is already by far America's best ally in the war on terror.

This example clearly shows Iraqi are in the fight with the United States. They have committed more troops to battling not only Al Qaeda, but also Shiite extremists. Granted the war is in their country, but they are not sitting back like they did in 2006. They are now actively pursuing Al Qaeda and Shiite militias.

From all these facts, it is clear that the Government of Iraq is well on its way to being a stable, representative state that controls its own territory, is oriented toward the West, and is an ally in the struggle against militant Islamism, whether Sunni or Shia.

For a thorough read of all of Mr. Kagan's points, click here.

Labels: , , , ,

Iraq new national unity government debated

From Alsumaria.

It seems that the meeting held by the Islamic Party political councils and the Islamic Supreme Council headed by Sayyed Abdul Aziz Al Hakim and Vice President Tarek Al Hashemi have reached an agreement upon which the Islamic Party would join the alliance of Kurdish parties and Al Daawa Party and would lead to form a small government headed by Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki. Informed sources affirmed that governmental changes would draw down the number of ministries to 23 and change the number of ministers. Sources have linked between this step and the Islamic Party accord with the quartet alliance after resolving disputes inside the Accordance Front in favor of the party, despite his front’s willingness to return to government if their demands are met. The Islamic Council and Al Daawa Party seek to assure votes of 80 MPs while the Islamic Party is working to convince its allies in the Accordance Front to vote for the new alliance by persuading 30 MPs while Kurds represent about 55 votes, which assures more than half voices in the parliament.

So, it seems that the "memorandum of understanding" between the Sunnis and Kurds will join forces with Hakim's Islamic Council and the Daawa Party, ensuring Maliki a majority in Parliment.

The significance of this national unity government is critical for continued political progress in Iraq.

1. It forms a government representative of Iraqis - Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds.

2. It drops Maliki's need for support from Sadr, who is against continued US presence in Iraq and still maintains a militia against the government.

3. It will allow for further reconciliation with Sunnis.

4. It gives the Kurds a voice in future oil laws and federalism.

All and all, if successful, this national unity government could well ensure the survival of this young democracy.

For a full read, click here.

Labels: , , , , ,