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May 17, 2007



In outlining the (anti AlQ) insurgency agenda Marc leaves out the stated intention to abolish the Iraq constitution and overthrow the democratically elected Maliki government, thereby removing the issue from discussion. Why?

I must admit I have some difficulty with the pervasive Sunni-centric viewpoint adopted by "left" pundits in the west. Even the superb Nir Rosen in his WAPO reply to Paul Bremer, descibes Bremer as having pitted a "minority" that was not benefiting from the (new)system "against the MINORITY' that was" - as though the Shiites are not clearly a 60% majority of the Iraq demographic, and when combined with the Kurds, an 80% majority - the Sunni Baath regime having represented only about 20% of Iraqis by means of a police state, which is the only way a small minority can suppress so many people. But clearly Nir could not bring himself to write a sentence about the "majority" benefiting from Bremer's system, even after two democratic elections on the most transparent of all systems - proportional representation - and the 77% national vote in favour of the constitution which the Sunni insurgents are proposing to abolish.

It's not surprising that Sunni Baath and salafi insurgents want to get their power back over the shiites since they never consented (also unsurprisingly) to it being removed. Nor is it surprising that the Arab new media takes a Sunni-centric view since it emanates from countries that are Sunni dominated, the historically perceived natural ruling class. However it was surprising to me that Marc did not discuss Sunni centric bias in his otherwise excellent book on the Arab new media.

Surely Sunni-centrism is crucial when discussing Iraq, the insurgency, the way its neighbours relate to it and the future of the country? Whether the Americans stay or go the Shiites, not Sunnis, are the overwhelming majority in Iraq. The Shiites perception is of having been suppressed over many decades, whatever the Baath's view of its benignity during that period. So surely the Shiites are not going to peaceably facilitate a re-emergence of Baath Sunni minority domination and the abolition of the Iraq constitution? And yet the insurgency's actions and intentions towards the Shiite-led govt, as opposed to its intentions towards the Us occupation, don't even rate analysis most of the time.


Marc, you seem like you are stating the obvious but then make all kinds of wild-ass assessments about what people should do next.

I pointed out about 2 months ago that the improvements in Al Anbar weren't a lie, and that the proof of that was that troops from Al Anbar had been moved from there into Baghdad. I also pointed out it had nothing to do with the surge, at that time. You were arguing that some mythical people weer claiming the surge had calmed things down in Anbar province. And you were questioning whether things had realy improved.

You're an expert. I'm not. Is it really so difficult for you to see the reality, as it plays out?

And what is this nonsense of the "importance" of the US understanding the difference between these terrorist groups? And who are these mythical people you mention, who think one or more the insurgent groups may be a friend to the US?

My God, man... do you really have such a low opinion of the intelligence of Americans? And here you are, acting like you are unraveling great mysteries. I think you must spend too much time listening to crazy ass conspiracy theories. It's got you so twisted up in knots that when you finally discover the truth it seems like an epiphany.

But even then you fuck it all up with your assessment of the importance of Americans listening to what people who want to kill us have to say, and other such absurdities.

The insurgents aren't our friends. We get it. You know what? We got that in 2004.


bb- fair point, I focus on the Sunni side because that's the focus of my work and what I follow closely. I have mentioned their rejection of Maliki and the current government before, but it didn't make it into the short Harpers conversation.

craig - your comments are amusing as always; I enjoy the dispatches from your world, even if it isn't the one the rest of us live in...


Thanks! Seems to me the insurgency may need to come to grips with the demographic realities in Iraq, especially in light of the very interesting interviews with Sadrist aides that Sudarsan Raqhavan recounts in WaPo today. AlQ seems to be everybody's favorite villian at the moment.



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