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  1. #1
    takeo
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    Us ambassador criticises pro-Iranian government while US negociates with sunni rebels

    http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=31965

    IRAQ:
    US Realignment With Sunnis Is Far Advanced
    Analysis by Gareth Porter*



    WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (IPS) - Two major revelations this past week show how far the George W. Bush administration has already shifted its policy toward realignment with Sunni forces to balance the influence of pro-Iranian Shiites in Iraq.

    U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad revealed in an interview with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius that he has put the future of military assistance to a Shiite-dominated government on the table in the high-stakes U.S. effort to force Shiite party leaders to give up control over key security ministries.

    Khalilzad told Ignatius that, unless the "security ministries" in the new Iraqi government are allocated to candidates who are "not regarded as sectarian", the United States would be forced to reevaluate its assistance to the government.

    "We are saying, if you choose the wrong candidates, that will affect U.S. aid," Khalilzad said.

    Khalilzad had previously demanded that the Interior Ministry be given to a non-sectarian candidate, but he had not backed up those demands with the threat of withdrawal of assistance. He has also explicitly added the Defence Ministry to that demand for the first time.

    Implied in Khalilzad's position is the threat to stop funding units that are identified as sectarian Shiite in their orientation. That could affect the bulk of the Iraqi army as well as the elite Shiite police commando units which are highly regarded by the U.S. military command.

    Khalilzad's decision to make the U.S. threat public was followed by the revelation by Newsweek in its Feb. 6 issue that talks between the United States and "high level" Sunni insurgent leaders have already begun at a U.S. military base in Anbar province and in Jordan and Syria. Khalilzad told Newsweek, "Now we have won over the Sunni political leadership. The next step is to win over the insurgents."

    As this sweeping definition of the U.S. political objective indicates, these talks are no longer aimed at splitting off groups that are less committed to the aim of U.S. withdrawal, as the Pentagon has favoured since last summer. Instead, the administration now appears to be prepared to make some kind of deal with all the major insurgent groups.

    U.S. military spokesman Rick Lynch declared, "The local insurgents have become part of the solution."

    The larger context of these discussions is a common interest in counter-balancing Iranian influence in Iraq. U.S. officials are remaining silent on this aspect of the policy. According to Newsweek, however, a "senior Western diplomat" explains the talks by saying, "There is more concern [on both sides] about the domination by Iran of Iraq."

    U.S. concern about the pro-Iranian leanings of the militant Shiite parties that will dominate the next government has grown as the administration presses a campaign to take Iran's nuclear programme to the U.N. Security Council, with the military option "on the table". A Western diplomat told Associated Press that the United States needed to find "some other allies who will not turn against them if things heat up with Iran".

    Even the possibility of a separate peace between the United States and the Sunni insurgency, which is inherent in these negotiations, signals to the Shiites that the United States is no longer wedded to the option of supporting Shiite military and police.

    Sunni political party leaders also see U.S. policy as supporting the Sunnis in order to limit the power of the Shiites. The Iraqi Islamic Party's Naseer al-Any told the Christian Science Monitor, "We are convinced that we are in a powerful position now. There is a change in the way the Americans deal with us..."

    The U.S. position and that of Sunni politicians toward the new government are now fully aligned. On Jan. 28, Sunni political groups and secular political parties announced a new political bloc to demand that the Interior Ministry not be in the hands of "people related to political parties".

    The Bush administration has been trying to find ways to counterbalance the influence of the pro-Iranian Shiite faction since mid-2004, especially by keeping control of paramilitary forces and secret police out of the hands of the militant Shiites. But until recently, those efforts have been constrained by the political imperative to prevail in the war against the Sunnis.

    Shiite leaders have been convinced since last year's parliamentary election campaigns that Washington has been conspiring with their enemies to undo the political power the Shiites had gained in 2005.

    Redha Taki, an official at party headquarters of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which heads the ruling Shiite coalition, told the Christian Science Monitor's Charles Levinson that the United States is only part of a much bigger coalition of interests opposing Shiite political power in Iraq, which includes Britain, the Iraqi Sunnis and the Arab League.

    The common denominator uniting all those actors, of course, is antagonism toward the Islamic revolutionary regime in Iran, with which the militant Shiite parties in Iraq are aligned.

    Shiite leaders believe the shift in U.S. policy is intended to actually reinstall a Baathist government in Baghdad. Taki hinted strongly to the Monitor that the SCIRI is planning to use force if necessary to defend the present government. "We are threatening that maybe in the future we will use other means," he said, "because we have true fear."

    Then he added, "I am prepared to go down into the streets and take up arms and fight to prevent the Baathist dictators and terrorists from coming back to power."

    That statement captures the feeling among many Shiite leaders and militia of being under siege, which could lead them to plan for extreme actions to deal with an anticipated bid by their enemies to take away their power.

    Everyone is now waiting to see how far the Bush administration will carry its political realignment. These new moves suggest that the administration may have redefined its interests in Iraq to downgrade the importance of the fight against insurgency there in light of the larger conflict with Iran.

    The logic of such a redefinition of interests would dictate a ceasefire with the Sunni insurgents. That would not only free the latter to fight al Qaeda, but alter the balance of power between militant Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq.

    Going that far would conflict with White House assurances only a few weeks ago of U.S. "victory" in the Iraq war. But word at the State Department last week was that Khalilzad, the mastermind of the new policy, has the president's ear. And the new policy may be just what Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other hardliners on Iran have been looking for.

    Although it may be a way out of a war that cannot be won, the U.S. shift in political alignment away from the Shiites and toward the Sunnis brings with it a different set of costs and risks.

    It is bound to bring to the surface the anti-U.S. sentiments that the Shiite political leadership and militants have kept more or less under wraps since the U.S. invasion for pragmatic political reasons.

    And as the Shiites gird for a showdown with their enemies, they will be seeking the assistance of their Iranian patrons. The worst crises for U.S. policy in Iraq are still to come.

    *Gareth Porter is an historian and national security policy analyst. His latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in June 2005. (END/2006)


    Interesting devellopment, so now the US wants the Baathists back in power since they realised Iran and pro-Iranian government in Iraq is a much worse threat? A pity they didn't realise it 3 years ago, avoiding a civil war, 10's of 1000's of death Iraqi's and many American casualties as well, as well as saving billions of $....

    They are negociating with the same people who were described as "savage terrorists" only a few weeks ago. They are afraid of the same people they brought to power themselves (despite warnings from all over the world that this would benefit Iran)... What a mess... They have totally lost it...

  2. #2
    Senior Member NewsGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by takeo
    WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (IPS) - Two major revelations this past week...
    Here's another one, then, courtesy of the IsraelForum:
    There would be no problem with pro-Iranian forces if only we got rid of the Ayatollahs.
    "All we are saying is give peace a chance." - John Lennon

  3. #3
    takeo
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewsGuy
    Here's another one, then, courtesy of the IsraelForum:
    There would be no problem with pro-Iranian forces if only we got rid of the Ayatollahs.
    So you think an invasion of Iran will be much easier and less complicated than the war in Iraq or what? And you don't expect pro-Iranian forces in Iraq to attack the US-forces in the back if the US invades Iran? (that's likely the reason of this shift in policy, but if the sunni "terrorists" will prove to be faithful allies remains to be seen...)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Mediocrates's Avatar
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    I rather like the idea of pushing Iran into a corner until they lash out. Even if it's against their own people. Or they do something truly stupid and kick out western investment thereby letting their oil infrastructure collapse.

    See the issue with Iran's oil is twofold:

    High output fields that have been in production since the 1930's are beginning to play out.

    The mullahs haven't invested in their own infrastructure since the Iraq-Iran war and it needs a huge amount of capital investment to keep running. This in fact is one reason behind their nuclear power electric generation program. They understand that soon they won't have any oil capacity to keep their own lights on AND maintain their oil exports which are for the most part their only exports.

    So in the meantime, if we push them hard enough they may overreach and cripple their own oil exports before they're ready. With a worsening financial and economic condition, diplomatic isolation, a cold winter, dwindling food supplies and a population increasing angry at the religious agenda of the mullahs you can count on, if not an outright uprising, at least enough civil unrest to keep them busy for a while. With any luck, a cold winter or another major earthquake and things start to rapidly fall apart for them. Sprinkle in the random 'terrorist' act, powerplant sabotage etc and it's looking a little dark for them.

  5. #5
    takeo
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    So where are the people who claimed the US would never negociate with "terrorists" in Iraq and that sunni rebels where the only major problem in Iraq?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mediocrates's Avatar
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    Oh I don't know. I suspect that those are words for the consumption of people like you. It's called difflection.

  7. #7
    takeo
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mediocrates
    I rather like the idea of pushing Iran into a corner until they lash out. Even if it's against their own people. Or they do something truly stupid and kick out western investment thereby letting their oil infrastructure collapse.

    See the issue with Iran's oil is twofold:

    High output fields that have been in production since the 1930's are beginning to play out.

    The mullahs haven't invested in their own infrastructure since the Iraq-Iran war and it needs a huge amount of capital investment to keep running. This in fact is one reason behind their nuclear power electric generation program. They understand that soon they won't have any oil capacity to keep their own lights on AND maintain their oil exports which are for the most part their only exports.

    So in the meantime, if we push them hard enough they may overreach and cripple their own oil exports before they're ready. With a worsening financial and economic condition, diplomatic isolation, a cold winter, dwindling food supplies and a population increasing angry at the religious agenda of the mullahs you can count on, if not an outright uprising, at least enough civil unrest to keep them busy for a while. With any luck, a cold winter or another major earthquake and things start to rapidly fall apart for them. Sprinkle in the random 'terrorist' act, powerplant sabotage etc and it's looking a little dark for them.
    It could be an interesting strategy, but I don't think Iran is going to isolate itself from the world market and oil exports aren't crippling, there has been quite some investment during the recent years, as a result of the rise in oil prices on the international markets. Also I don't believe an embargo will be declared against Iran since that would negatively affect the oil price and because Russia and China will veto any such effort.

  8. #8
    Senior Member NewsGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by takeo
    So you think an invasion of Iran will be much easier and less complicated than the war in Iraq or what?
    No, no invasion and no using our army for nation-building. Just a few weeks (maybe even days) of airstrikes and battleship bombardment can topple the Ayatolahs.

    From there, it's simply up to the Iranian people to do as they please. If they put up another government like this one, repeat the process until they get it right.

    Same thing for Syria.
    "All we are saying is give peace a chance." - John Lennon

  9. #9
    Annaliese
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewsGuy
    No, no invasion and no using our army for nation-building. Just a few weeks (maybe even days) of airstrikes and battleship bombardment can topple the Ayatolahs.

    From there, it's simply up to the Iranian people to do as they please. If they put up another government like this one, repeat the process until they get it right.

    Same thing for Syria.
    Precisely.

    In fact, I was going to reply in the same way, but you made it look purtier.

  10. #10
    takeo
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewsGuy
    No, no invasion and no using our army for nation-building. Just a few weeks (maybe even days) of airstrikes and battleship bombardment can topple the Ayatolahs.

    From there, it's simply up to the Iranian people to do as they please. If they put up another government like this one, repeat the process until they get it right.

    Same thing for Syria.
    Think again! If the US attacks Iran the Ayatollahs will use this to stenghten power and blame everything on Israel and the US, and Iranians, and they will gather a lot of international support and international indignation, further isolation of the US in the world. You bombed Saddam 10 times and bombed Iraq back to the stone age and yet Saddam remained in power...
    If you want to topple the regime you'll have to invade and occupy Iran, which will be even a harder task than occupying Iraq. And even in the unlikely case the regime falls, chaos as in Iraq will replace it which will be an excellent occasion for Al-Quaida and all kind of extremist and criminal organisations (especially drugs trade in the southeast) to grap power in Iran as well. It will be a mess exceeding the Iraqi mess, and obviously the result will be more extremism and terrorism, not less. Let's call it the "afghanisation" of Iran. (currently we can also say "Iraqisation"). Not to mention that such a policy will certainly alienate the Iraqi government, which will kick out the Americans and side with Iran. If you do the same with Syria you'll have a gigantic Jihad from Palestine to Afghanistan, and unprecedented hate against the us in the muslim world. It's the wet dream of Al-Quaida and Bin Laden, this is precisely why they carried out 11/9...

  11. #11
    Senior Member Mediocrates's Avatar
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    the 125,000 (+200,000 support staff) Revolutionary Guards, much like the Iraqi Republican Guards are not an actual army in the conventional sense. They point in, not out. Their purpose is to keep their guns on Iranians to keep them in line. They function more like a national guard/special internal security force. That's why they're given the best training, equipment and funding. The Pasdaran is actually not that large in relation to the overall force structure. It is much more integrated and functions like a standalone force much like the USMC. It has its own intelligence branch distinct from SAVAMA military intelligence. The Pasdaran would form the spine of any insurgency.

    Iranian mobile armor is not modern. They do however make some number of their own MBTs. Otherwise with perhaps 800 - 1000 tanks, most of them are old and questionable. All mobile divisions have an irregular structure and dubious cross unit communications. And of course Ronald Reagan sold them Hawk antiaircraft and TOW missile systems.

    The Iranian Navy is very weak and little real capabilty. On paper it has several missile frigates or corvettes, Naval Aviation ASW capabilty and 2 or 3 kilo class electrodiesel subs. In reality it's warfighting ability is very poor. They have a number of sub-100 ton missile equipped gunboats.

    Again one US carrier group would easily eliminate the Iranian Navy and a large chuck of their ground based AA, C3I and radar systems inside of 3 days with light to very light losses.

    So with little air force or naval opponents and the best army units focused on a different purpose than what they would be called on to do, traditional straight up gunfights with the US would be a joke. With little political will and less of a rationale, even a bad one, to occupy and run the country it's doubtful we would bother with it beyond taking control of intelligence and defense research information including nonconventional weapons programs of all types. Whatever we find we obliterate then scoop up all the senior military and science staff.

    Hang a mezzuzah on the door, toss em the keys, and split.

  12. #12
    Senior Member NewsGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by takeo
    Think again! If the US attacks Iran the Ayatollahs will use this to stenghten power and blame everything on Israel and the US, and Iranians, and they will gather a lot of international support and international indignation, further isolation of the US in the world. You bombed Saddam 10 times and bombed Iraq back to the stone age and yet Saddam remained in power...
    I wouldn't worry too much about what the Ayatollahs would say or think, as they would be lying 6 feet under, busy trying to figure out where their 72 virgins have gone.

    I agree with mediocrates about the state of the Iranian army which couldn't break a tie with Saddam's pathetic military in 7 years of war,.

    As for Saddam, he remained in power because he was specifically allowed to remain in power back in Desert Storm. It was a political decision at the time. But, as you can see now, as soon as the U.S. decided he should go, he is posing in his underware in a Baghdad jail without any of the international support you thought he would have.

    I don't believe that a ground invasion would be necessary to topple the Ayatollahs. I think that most Iranians don't to live in an Islamic dictatorship, and they will fill the leadership vacuum if the opportunity presents itself.

    As for Syria, I would say it would take about 2 hours to completely wipe out most of its army, although I would guess that some of the units will be spared so they can act to prevent anarchy when Assad is toppled. That is a lesson from Iraq.

    Sure, the Arab "street" will be foaming at the mouth, as it is these days over the Danish cartoon, but so what? The Arab street's opinion is irrelevant. We already know that they hate America and would like nothing better than to shish-kabob any American or European "infidel" they could get their hands on. Big deal.
    "All we are saying is give peace a chance." - John Lennon

  13. #13
    genghis_tom
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewsGuy
    No, no invasion and no using our army for nation-building. Just a few weeks (maybe even days) of airstrikes and battleship bombardment can topple the Ayatolahs.
    From there, it's simply up to the Iranian people to do as they please. If they put up another government like this one, repeat the process until they get it right.
    Same thing for Syria.
    Right. No invasion. No using army for nation building. But I say no nation destroying. Aerial and naval bombardment cannot but help hitting industrial and other economic targets. This would just create more indignation in the Iranian people. We'd probably have to rebuild at the behest of the international community. It would be like Japan circa 1950, except every single civilian wants blood.
    Sorry for rambling a bit, but guided missile strikes on the leadership (and leadership only) are the best way to go. "If they put up another government like this one, repeat the process until they get it right."

  14. #14
    Senior Member NewsGuy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genghis_tom
    But I say no nation destroying.
    Sorry for rambling a bit, but guided missile strikes on the leadership (and leadership only) are the best way to go. "If they put up another government like this one, repeat the process until they get it right."
    Agreed not to destroy the civilian infrastructure, but it would be necessary to take out enough of the military to allow the political opposition to assume power once the current leadership is gone.
    "All we are saying is give peace a chance." - John Lennon

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