Saturday, November 04, 2006

Negroponte proposes putting Saddam-era intelligence officials back to work under the new US strategy

The Bush administration is in the process of changing sides in the Iraqi struggle, but it is an embarrassing process, and as you would expect, the smoke-machines are going full blast.

The news yesterday in Al-Hayat was that the armed Sunni resistance groups are setting up a common-front structure, because they expect to be in formal negotiations with the Americans. And the news today, on the front page of Azzaman, is that John Negroponte, head of US intelligence, proposed to Malaki earlier this week the establishment of a new Iraqi intelligence service, to replace the existing one, and the newspaper adds: "The sources [close to the Negroponte-Malaki talks] said Negroponte will not object to the inclusion in the new intelligence service of agents who were in the former [i.e., Saddam-era] Iraqi intelligence agency, who are highly qualified. Several parties in the governing coalition oppose this tawajjuhu (course, or orientation, or patronage)". And what is wrong with the existing Iraqi intelligence service? The answer, in simple terms, is that it is an agency set up by the CIA to use Shiite sources to track down the Sunni resistance. Now that US policy in the region is to establish a Sunni alliance against the Iran-Shiite threat, Iraq policy is undergoing a 180-degree shift, which will require a whole new intelligence regime, this one designed to use Sunni sources to track down Shiite resistance. Hence the expectation of US talks with the Sunni resistance; and hence also the Negroponte proposal for a new Sunni-oriented intelligence service that "could" include Saddam-era officers.

In appropriately mysterious fashion, Azzaman says the current Iraqi intelligence chief, Muhammad Abdullah Muhammad al-Shehwani, has "reached the end of his contract period". In a way that is true. The US had to airlift him recently to Amman for safekeeping following assassination threats against him, according to Al-Quds al-Arabi. It would have been a little clearer to say that he "reached the end of his usefulness" as a Shiite-allied Sunni-hunter, now that the Sunni are going to be the US strategic favorites.

(For what it is worth, the Israeli intelligence-related Debka-file web site had an interesting piece on Shehwani back in 2004, when the US was gearing up for a no-holds-barred attack on the Sunni resistance, starting with Falluja. The piece (you have to scroll down to Section 3, "CIA's secret Iraqi protege tipped as Iraqs next ruler") said Shehwani had been a CIA protege for a long period of time in the US, adding in their inimitable way the following: "According to our sources, the CIA did a lot more than provide the Iraqi exile [Shehwani] with a safe haven. While out in the open, the Pentagon and State Department were busy preparing rival exiled leaders like Ahmed Chalabi and Adnan Pachachi for high office in post-Saddam Baghdad, the CIA's best instructors and mentors secretly coached the former major general [Shehwani] for eventual accession to the top post in Baghdad.")

In any event, whether it was Shehwani's contract or his usefulness that had expired, what is clear is that Shehwani, as the head of Iraqi intelligence since the Bremer era, was the covert face of the US war on the Sunni resistance, and now that the Sunni are going to be allies, the US is going to need not just a new head of Iraqi intelligence, but a whole new agency, which "could" include Saddam-era intelligence officers. And guess what: As the Azzaman piece notes, this idea is opposed by Shiite parties in the governing coalition.

The point here is not just the 180-degree shift in the Bush-administration strategy. The most important point is on a different level: It is that from the very beginning the US strategy was sectarian, pitting Shiites against Sunnis. Now that Iraqis can sense the coming 180-degree shift in the US strategy, is it any wonder that the political and security situations continue to collapse?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both Sunnis and Shiites ought to spit in the face of these evil Yanks, who are forever pitting Iraqi factions against each other in the service of their own imperial ambitions!!

7:05 AM  

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