The essential “finding” of Joshua Partlow’s Washington Post article, “U.S. Strategy on Sunnis Questioned,” is that Iraqi Shiite and Kurdish political figures are not stupid.
That is, they understand that the so-called “Anbar Model” is a slow-motion, pro-Baathist coup.
Shiite and Kurdish officials expressed deep reservations on Sunday about the new U.S. military strategy of partnering with Sunni Arab groups to help defeat the militant organization al-Qaeda in Iraq.
“They are trusting terrorists,” said Ali al-Adeeb, a prominent Shiite lawmaker who was among many to question the loyalty of the Sunni groups. “They are trusting people who have previously attacked American forces and innocent people. They are trusting people who are loyal to the regime of Saddam Hussein.”…
Some of these groups, believed to be affiliated with such organizations as the Islamic Army or the 1920 Revolution Brigades, have received weapons and ammunition, usually through the Iraqi military, as well as transportation, food, handcuffs and direct assistance from U.S. soldiers….
One senior Iraqi government official described the American military policy of partnering with local Sunni groups as “nonsense.”
“Every three months they have a new strategy. This is not only a distracting way to conduct policy, it is creating insecurity for all. I don’t think these strategies have been thought through deeply. It is all about convenience,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“In reality, they are forcing the Iraqi government and the Shia and the Kurds to reconcile with the Saddamists,” the official added.
The U.S. military focus on al-Qaeda is, at least in part, a way of deflecting attention away from the fact that most attacks on US forces are from the Sunni nationalist insurgency, not al-Qaeda.
General Petraeus chose his words carefully in his most recent interview with FoxNews.
Al Qaeda is the face of what is happening on the extremist Sunni side.
They are carrying out the bulk of the sensational attacks, the suicide car bomb attacks, suicide vest attacks and so forth.
The anonymous “senior Iraqi government official” cited by Partlow is correct to suggest that Washington has a “new strategy” every three months, except that the competing strategies are actually simultaneous, not sequential.
There is a “Shiite Option” strategy and there is the “Anbar Model” strategy of the anti-Shiite coup.
So intense are the disagreements in Washington that the American Enterprise Institute is home to some of the most ardent ideological defenders of each strategy.
At the same time, AEI’s Frederick Kagan is one of the leading defenders of the so-called “Anbar Model.”
It must be kind of awkward around the AEI water cooler these days.