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Tue

17

Jul

2007

Deep Shiite, We’ve Driven Off the Cliff
Tuesday, 17 July 2007 09:31
by Larry C. Johnson

The ethnic cleansing of Baghdad is well advanced and the United States does not have the military force in place to alter the course of these events without engaging in a full scale war against the militias of Moqtada al Sadr and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim. By the end of September the various Shia militias will control close to 90% of the city.

So what? For starters it is no coincidence that the Green Zone has sustained multiple mortar bombardments in the last couple of weeks. The bombardment comes in the wake of stepped up U.S. military assaults against Shia targets in eastern Baghdad. The simple fact that the mortars can be fired seemingly at will into the Green Zone without effective counter battery highlights the limited operational capability of the U.S. forces that have “surged” into Baghdad.

The security situation in Baghdad, within the so-called “highly secure” Green Zone has deteriorated to the point that U.S. personnel venturing outside must wear body armor and helmets. Check out the story broken by McClatchey and the memo itself.

The Shia success certainly screws up the White House propaganda plan to portray the enemy in Iraq as Al Qaeda on the march. Joshua Partlow makes this point in today’s Washington Post:

West Rashid confounds the prevailing narrative from top U.S. military officials that the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq is the city’s most formidable and disruptive force. While there are signs that the group has been active in the area, over the past several months, the Mahdi Army has transformed the composition of the district’s neighborhoods by ruthlessly killing and driving out Sunnis and denying basic services to residents who remain. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, described the area as “one of the three or four most challenging areas in all of Baghdad.”

Dominance by Shiite militias is typically associated with places in eastern Baghdad, such as Sadr City, while areas west of the Tigris River and south of the Baghdad airport road are home to large Sunni enclaves. Not long ago the western neighborhoods conformed clearly with this perception. U.S. soldiers estimate that a year ago, Sunnis made up about 80 percent of the population there and Shiites 20 percent. But those numbers have now reversed, after a concerted effort to cleanse Sunnis from the area, according to U.S. military officials. Graffiti marking the walls in these neighborhoods herald the new order: “Every land is Karbala, and every day is Ashura,” read one slogan, extolling the Shiite holy city in southern Iraq and a major Shiite religious holiday.

Pat Lang comments on Partlow’s news at Sic Semper Tyrannis:

The Shia Arabs are “cleansing” west Baghdad of Sunni Arab residents. This makes sense from their point pf view. They want the city to be the capital of the rump state of Iraq, the one they are going to dominate under Iranian protection. They hope they will dominate such a state. I say that because the huge majority of Muslims across the world are Sunni. They will never rest until that portion of Islamdom that has been called Iraq is once more free of the rule of the “Safavids,” or “Magii” as they call all the Iranian and Iraq Shia.

Why the hell should we listen to guys like Lang? Well, let us recall the his words in a Newsweek article written more than three years ago:

April 10 - Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian philosopher who is required reading for all military officers, talked about the “culminating point” in a war, when an army’s resources are outstripped by the demands placed upon it. That point may be approaching now in Iraq. “There are several million young men in Iraq who are now seeing us in a whole new light,” says Pat Lang, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst. “We have something like 130,000 troops in Iraq.We probably do not have more than 60 thousand or 70 thousand fighters in that force. They are spread across a vast area.” In Lang’s view, the United States must either shift that tipping point by bringing in more troops, or we withdraw. “To back away from the hostiles will enormously encourage our enemies. We have no choice but to fight it out and defeat the growing revolt in Iraq,” he says. “Once you drive your car off the cliff, there’s not much you can do to affect the outcome.”

Once you go over the cliff your only viable option is to dial 911 and tell the paramedics where the car is going to hit the ground. We now know that we do not have the necessary forces to bring to bear on the security threat in Baghdad. If we do not have the means of winning the fight then the time to withdraw has come.

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