Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How things work

Here's what David Sanger in the NYT says about the Anbar turnover:
It allows Mr. Bush to claim that five years after the invasion, Iraq is achieving stability, and it allows Mr. McCain to argue that he was the first to come up with the winning strategy, an infusion of additional troops.
And here's what AlHayat says about the US election strategy:
The United States has put off the turnover to Iraqi security forces of security in six Iraqi provinces that are mixed by race and sect, until after the signing of a security agreement with the Maliki government and its approval by the [Iraqi] Parliament, out of concern for unexpected repercussions [from an immediate turnover in those six provinces] that could mix up the cards (or reshuffle the deck) ahead of the American presidential election scheduled for November 4.
Later in this short article the writer quotes the head of security in the Iraqi Interior Ministry, Abdel Karim Khalaf, who is clearly the source for this. Khalaf says the turnover in the remaining six provinces will happen "soon", adding they have problems common to those areas that are mixed by race and by sect. The six are Salahaddin, Baghdad, Kirkuk, Diyala, Mosul and Babil. But the implication is that the turnover of those provinces will happen before year-end. This is because when he mentions the Anbar turnover, the journalist says:
[With the Anbar turnover] there are now twelve provinces that have taken over their security file, within the policy that calls for Iraqis to take over security responsibilities in all cities before the end of this year.
That is an interesting remark, because up to now the idea of US forces "withdrawing" from the cities by the end of this year has been reported merely as one of the clauses in various leaked versions of the draft security agreement.

Two points emerge: (1) According to Khalaf, the US and Iraq are already working together on handing "security responsibilities" in the cities to the Iraqi forces by year-end; and (2) this is being timed in a way that will maximize the Republicans' electoral chances, because the Anbar turnover can be used as a electoral slogan, while the potential problems in the other provinces will so far as possible be put on hold until after the election, so as not to interfere with the sloganeering.

And there is another point that Khalaf sets out very clearly:
Khalaf explained that "the head of police in each province is the person primarily responsibility for security in his province, and if there is any security emergency in any of the provinces where the Iraqi forces are in control [meaning where the turnover from the US has been done], he will be able to call on additional forces, first from the Ministry of Defence, and then it will be possible to call for help from the American forces, if we need to do that in the worst case".
When Kahl and others talk about "strategic conditionality" or the Democrats more generally about "responsible withdrawal", the implication is that the US should be able to use its leverage to force the Maliki government to do good things. (For instance, perhaps by saying to them: No logistical support for your special forces operations against the bad guys in Group A, unless you agree to accomodate these good guys in Group B, and we the American authorities will tell you which is which). But what appears to be indicated in Khalaf's remarks is that the broad outlines of an agreement are already in place. Helping the American forces withdraw from the day-to-day firing line in the cities, while explicitly retaining the possibility of calling on them for "assistance" whenever this might be required.

Of course, the question how the post-Dec 31 occupation-legality will be finessed still remains to be answered.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all become props when US elections come around.

By the way, I see that the 'new' administration at Abu-Muqawama is reading and citing Missing Links.

8:17 AM  

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