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Friday, January 29, 2016

Political Factions In Iraq, Post-Invasion

  • Who were the significant factions and players in Iraq in 2006? Has the composition of these factions changed since then? Explain.

The influential factors involving post-Saddam Iraq were (in no particular order) the Iraqi government, Sunni Arab tribes, the Shia, the Kurds, Iran, al Qaeda, the USA, it's coalition allies, and finally the “American” Left. The Iraqi government, created by a balance of the internal factors and beset by violence and corruption from the start, was less effective then wished for. Sunni tribal politics became more of a factor after the Tikritis lost their dominant position with Saddam's fall. The Shia had been oppressed by Saddam's regime and now pushed for more power. Iran intervened both to support the Shia and to undermine the US. The Kurds were another historically oppressed group. Al Qaeda came to wage jihad; “These foreign fighters included a substantial number of jihadists affiliated with al Qaeda, and foreign fighters would come to play a key role in the insurgency”(Phillips, 2009, p. 69). We will discuss the US and allies shortly.

Many of the factors remain the same currently; the Iraqi government, the Sunni tribes, the Shia, the Kurds, Iran, ISIS taking over from al Qaeda, and the USA. The major differences are the following: that the Obama Administration's brilliant Nobel Peace Prize diplomacy had led to a weaker military position and a significant lesser presence of coalition allies; that ISIS has not only replaced al Qaeda as the Islamist power influence, but that ISIS has gained a great deal of power in governmental, military, popular, and economic power in contrast to al Qaeda; and that the “American” Left no longer contests the use of American power (when used by Leftists), which has been most obvious since the supposed “anti-war” protesters did not protest the Obama administration's violation of the War Powers Act in Libya.
  • What were the political and religious positions of these significant groups?
A simple summary of the internal players would discuss the Sunni/Shia religious split, the ethic conflict between the Kurds and Arabs, and the lack of consensus to support the Iraqi government resulting from these differences. However, there are additional political issues that exacerbate these issues; one such problem is the Sunni “region, unlike those dominated by the Kurds and the Shiites, has thus far lacks significant proven oil reserves and they depend on the central government for revenue” (Katzman, 2009, p.25). There have been many suggestions for the continued occupation and intervention by the US; responsibility for rebuilding the country, a “flypaper” strategy for attracting and killing Islamists, and the possibility that a long term emergence of Iraq as a democratic country would undermine Islamism.”Promoting democracy abroad was no longer viewed as a supplement to other core national security interests; it now became a key national security priority”(Kaye, 2008, P.13). On the other hand, the promotion of liberty has never been on the Left's agenda, “That makes it about as clear as it could be that the first priority is not to disarm rogues but to defang America.” (Rauch, 2003, para. 18); their influence on the war was to subvert the war effort via propaganda, as in Democratic Senator Durbin's slander of American soldiers as “Nazis”.
  • What commonalities did the groups share, and what differences existed? What were their basic political goals and objectives? What types of terrorism were effective for each group?
The greatest commonality of the terror groups is found in the religion of Islam. Whehter a specific terrorist was a member of al Sadr's Shiite militia, a Baathist of the Fedayeen Saddam, a foreign jihadist supported by al Qaeda, or an Iranian Quds operative, they all performed the salat, the daily affirmation of submission. However, because apostasy is punishable by death under Islamic law, and because Islam considers the Koran as the direct word of g*d, religious differences in Islam, especially of the magnitude of the Sunni/Shia split, make for the situation in which not all of these terrorists worked for a common cause. Once past religious difference, political and tribal goals, as discussed above, also played a part in the targets and methods used by the terrorists. One reason that al Qaeda failed in Iraq was due to their choosing of targets that caused Sunni tribal militias to turn against them. While “the initial alliance between Anbar’s rebels and foreign jihadists stemmed from their common interest in expelling the Coalition from Iraq and arresting the Shi’ites’ political ascendancy”(Phillips, 2009, p.71), the selection of al Qaeda targets eventually turned Sunni militias against them. Perhaps the most successful terrorist operations were those conducted against the rebuilding Iraqi army at the beginning of the new government; these attacks were directed at recruiting efforts, and weakened efforts at creating a unified and patriot force to create a successful, if unIslamic, government.
  • What, according to these significant groups, could be gained from acts of terrorism? Do you agree with the consequences that the identified significant terrorist groups aimed to achieve? Why?
Summarizing the goals across all terrorist groups, we could assert that these goals included the following; establishment of an Islamic state, supporting a pan-Islamic state, attain local power, expel the “Crusaders” (the Americans and their allies), and finally to punish the infidels (both non-Islamic, and Muslims of different Islamic creed). For the most part, the terrorists (like Saddam's government before them) targeted Iraqi civilians to achieve these goals. For my own part, due to my opposition to Islam as a totalitarian political philosophy as well as a disgust for the primary selection of civilian targets, I have nothing but contempt for these methods.

Katzman, K. (2009). Iraq : Post-Saddam governance and security. New York: Nova Science Publishers

Kaye, D. D. (2008). More freedom, less terror? liberalization and political violence in the Arab world. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corp. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&scope=site&db=nlebk&db=nlabk&AN=268369
Phillips, A. (2009). How al Qaeda lost Iraq. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 63(1), 64–84. doi:10.1080/10357710802649840

Rauch, J. (2003, May 24). After Iraq, the left has a new agenda: Contain America first. National Journal, 35, 1607-1608,1595. Retrieved September 10, 2014 from http://search.proquest.com/docview/200310156?accountid=87314

Most of the guys I served with back in the 90's (that were still in) were gunnys and staff sergeants who were leaving the service 2003-2005; all of them (that I spoke with) had the perception that the media wasn't being either objective or honest in their reporting.

Although this is anecdotal and not statistical,   I haven't met a single Iraq/Afganistan vet who had a different perception regarding media coverage.

By 2005, I was entirely getting my war news from the milblogs:
etc etc

I found that when compared to the major networks, the guys that were actually there, even if they weren't trained in journalism, were getting out better info than the "pros"

Islam means "submission";  the "just social order" that Islam aims to achieve is through submission to g*d's will.  The world is thus divided into two spheres; dar al Islam (the house of submission), and dar al harb (the house of war).  In the house of Islam, justice is derived from the word of g*d as dictated to Mohammed  directly by g*d and recorded in the Koran.  G*d's will is enforced though sharia, or government based on the Koran and interpreted by religious/political leaders known as sheiks or mullahs.

However, humans being humans, not all Muslims are "good" Muslims in the sense of jihad (which means more than "holy war", although this interpretation carries the most weight).  Many Muslims want nothing more than the rest of us in a safe and prosperous family.

Is it possible to fight Islam without fighting Muslims as a whole?  

My understanding at the time was that the Baathist holdouts became less active as contact with Saddam was lost ( a problem with strongman/charismatic leadership); the former Baathists returned to their tribes.
After Saddam was captured in 2003, former Baathists who were active in terrorist/insurgent activity did so via their respective tribal militias.
Hmmm, perhaps I should have added more information regarding the interplay between insurgency and terrorism in my original answer.

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