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June 13, 2007


Kevin Rooney

Maybe I am jumping to conclusions or maybe I am the last one to catch on, but could it be that the Sunni-Shia strife would not be nearly as bad were it not for the presence of small numbers of non-Iraqi Islamicists hell bent on throwing matches into the tinder and blowing up any firetruck that tries to put out the flames?
Not to overlook pre-existing and genuine tensions and not to overlook the role of the US in destroying the pre-existing stable but vicious government, but maybe it really is the bin Laden type elements* who have made the crucial difference in creating so much intra-Iraqi violence?
* In other words, jihadists for whom chaos in Iraq is a useful tactic for their global agenda, as distinct from Iraqis opposed to the US invasion for whom chaos is an unfortunate necessity for the sake of protecting their local power.


I tend to think that one of the big problems the US has faced is its insistence that most of IRaq's problems are external. Whether its foreign AL Qaeda linked jihadis or the Iranians, the USG and military like to blame everybody but the Iraqi government itself--think of that glitzy presentation a few months back about Iranian supplies of EFPs into Iraq. Of course, foreign jihadis have been a driver of violence in Iraq and Iran has been a destabilizing factor, but the insurgency and militia problems are now essentially iraqi. it's much easier to castigate Iran or talk about sealing off the borders with syria than goad into action an iraqi government that decided to take a couple months' vacation while the US surged more troops into baghdad precisely to give the political process some breathing room.

that members of the heavily-infiltrated Interior Ministry have been detained for the Samarra round two is the perfect example that, while foreign jihadis drove action during the period surrounding the Feb 2006 Samarra bombing, its the iraqis themselves in the fight now.

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