Friday, January 05, 2007

Military escalation? Mamoun Fandy vs Juan Cole

Mamoun Fandy wrote a column in Asharq al-Awsat on Sunday December 4 (text here)in which he predicted the imminent departure of Abizaid as the CentCom chief (which in fact happened soon thereafter), and also the appointment of David Petraeus to replace him. ABC reported yesterday that Petraus is in fact going to get a senior appointment, (not as CentCom chief, admittedly, but as head of ground forces in Iraq).

Since Fandy was pretty much right in these predictions, it's worth taking another look at what else he said, remembering of course that he is a former senior fellow at the Baker Institute, and currently regarded as one of the Arab writers closest to the Saudi king. First about the political context of the change:

David Petraeus, or whatever other general takes the place of Abizaid, will have to be a part of the new strategy of the US administration, and will have to be more proactive, and perhaps less diplomatic, in explaining conditions in the field to Washington and to the neighboring states [neighboring Iraq]. We read the leaked Hadley memo that was printed in the New York Times, and that implied changing the head of the Iraqi government. The fact is that stability in Iraq and the region requires change not only in Iraq, but on both sides, that of the government of Iraq and the American administration. Change in Centcom leadership in Qatar is part of the overall change that is required by the new strategic balance.

And what exactly is the strategic change that Fandy was predicting?
The first thing this change will mean is a change in the operating strategy, in the way CentCom deals with the terrorist groups in the region, and there will be two parts to this, military and political. Perhaps we will be seeing more visits [to CentCom] from countries that border Iraq, and from other important countries in the region, looking for the application of security measures to limit entry of terrorists into Iraq, along with a request for an increase in US forces in the region in keeping with the size of the danger. (The italics are mine). And perhaps the new general will see the need for confrontation, and not for discussions, with Iran! (The exclamation point is Fandy's)
In other words, increased troop-levels, a more confrontational approach to Iran, as part of a change in the military leadership that will likely be coordinated with a change in the Baghdad government. Fandy seems to have got the military-personnel part of this right.

There is another early indicator of increased troop-levels and a more-confrontational approach to Iran, and it is the fact that Juan Cole is telling us the opposite. This morning he makes this prediction: "Despite all the talk of resurgence of the Neoconservatives with their 'surge'...this team [Petraeus and newly-appointed ambassador Ryan Crocker] is the farthest from Neoconservative desires that you could possibly get". Informed comment, or flim-flam?

4 Comments:

Anonymous Veronica said...

I had read Juan Cole's comments about the so called "professionals" taking over and his admiration for all of them. For a moment, I thought I was on some Neoconservative site by mistake, gloating for more destruction of the Middle East and US "victory". Sometimes, I believe that Professor Cole's disappointment about the rape and plunder of Iraq is that US is not winning. Had US been victorious, he would probably be praising this vile US Administration and thumping his chest to do the same to Iran, Syria and others.

As for Fandy's repeated use of the word "terrorists" in Iraq, it seems that all who resist the brutal Anglo-American rapists, invaders and occupiers of their lands and population, are labeled "terrorists". Never mind that US has been terrorizing the entire region.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Vladimir said...

Badger, Petraeus is replacing Casey and not Abizad, who is being replaced by the Admiral currently leading Pacific command. To that extent a change in military posture as some commentators have pointed out is likely to be with increased naval forces and air strike capability they can bring (This seems to have in fact already been publicly stated) As for confrontation with Iran it is only indirectly related to Iraq and has more to do with nukes and Israel otherwise why would be hearing of a coming confratation with the Mehdi milita which would certainly benefit Iran's main Iraqi clients the SCIRI.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hypothesizing here: If Abizaid is being replaced by an Admiral, while Casey is being replaced by Petraeus, couldn't that mean that:

-Petraeus is going in to try and replicate his early-occupation Mosul strategies (minimal force, maximum community relations) and the Iraqi military "training" of his second tour

-Admiral Fallon (as the regional Centcom, not just Iraq, commander) is going in to beef up the naval (including carrier) forces in preparation for possible action against Iran.

That makes more sense to me given the beltway politics right now than that increased air and naval forces will be used in Iraq.

5:39 AM  
Blogger badger said...

Could be. I'm sure you're right about Fallon, but I don't know about the community relations/training part. The only thing that struck me was that if Fandy was dead on about Abziaid-out/Petraeus-in (although not in Centcom)then I'd say there's a pretty good chance he was also right about the confront-Iran part of his argument too.

3:19 PM  

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