Middle East Archives

Iraq: “Please Don’t ‘Cut & Run'”

The Iraqi government sounds to me like it would like you to vote Republican, please.

Iraq’s deputy prime minister today urged the international community not to “cut and run” from his country.

Barham Salih called for realism but not defeatism

Barham Salih was speaking after talks with Tony Blair amid growing pressure on both sides of the Atlantic for an “exit strategy” for the withdrawal of American and British troops from Iraq.

Mr Salih said in Downing Street that the future of Iraq was vital to the future of the Middle East and world order.

“This is a society that was traumatised by 35 years of tyranny and trying to build a functioning democracy in the heart of the Islamic Middle East.”

The elected government of Iraq needed to make tough choices, but for some time it would be reliant on the support of the international community, he said.

As I’ve noted before, even the United States didn’t have a constitutional government spring forth immediately following the Revolutionary War. It took years for us to agree on a Constitution, and even that took more than one attempt. (The first attempt gave too little power to the national government.) Further, we were not nearly as oppressed by the government we threw off as the Iraqis have been. A lot of long-buried tensions have come to the surface, as well as the influence of terrorists and nearby rogue states that don’t want to see democracy work in the region. Leaving before Iraq is ready will simply fulfill the politically-motivated prophesies that the Left has been pronouncing since the war started.

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The Requirements of Self-Government

Paul Harvey’s line is, “Self-government without self-control is self-defeating.” The latest exhibit before the jury is this.

THE al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed wing of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction, have threatened for the first time to kill Hamas leaders, including exiled political chief Khaled Meshaal.
The threat marked an escalation in the power struggle between Fatah and the ruling Hamas movement after two days of internal fighting in the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank in which 12 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded.

In a statement, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said it held Meshaal, Palestinian Interior Minister Saeed Seyam and senior Interior Ministry official Youssef al-Zahar responsible for the deaths.

“We in al-Aqsa announce, with all might and frankness, the ruling of the people in the homeland and in the diaspora, to execute the head of the sedition, Khaled Meshaal, Saeed Seyam and Youssef al-Zahar, and we will execute this ruling so those filthy people can be made an example,” the statement said.

Meshaal is based in Damascus, while Seyam and al-Zahar are in the Gaza Strip.

(Hat tip to the Jawa Report, who wishes both sides “the very best of luck in battle”.)

When political parties have their own milita–as does Hezbollah, Hamas and Fatah–those groups are not ready for government of the people, by the people and for the people. They are not ready to resolve their differences peacefully. They are not ready for a representative republic.

And yes, I’m aware of the bit of irony in using a phrase Lincoln used when dedicating a cemetery during the Civil War. Yes, we had our internal war, but I see a main difference. Most civil wars, as is the one in the Palestinian territories, are for control of the government. Ours was fought over the issue of separating from the government. And while that is a big, black mark on our history, we’ve gotten past the idea that political parties should stage military battles against each other. In fact, in a manner of speaking, if you grant that the South was acting as though it were a sovereign nation, even the Civil War might not be considered a war between factions within a country.

But in the Middle East, the Palestinian political parties are shooting at each other instead of wrangling this out in the political process. Politics may be ugly, but it’s better than this.

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The Calm Before the (Next) Storm

Ah, the wonders of a UN resolution. The peacekeeping troops are there, and they’re doing…what, exactly?

One month after a United Nations Security Council resolution ended a 34-day war between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, members of the international force sent to help keep the peace say their mission is defined more by what they cannot do than by what they can.

They say they cannot set up checkpoints, search cars, homes or businesses or detain suspects. If they see a truck transporting missiles, for example, they say they can not stop it. They cannot do any of this, they say, because under their interpretation of the Security Council resolution that deployed them, they must first be authorized to take such action by the Lebanese Army.

The job of the United Nations force, and commanders in the field repeat this like a mantra, is to respect Lebanese sovereignty by supporting the Lebanese Army. They will only do what the Lebanese authorities ask.

And many in the Lebanese Army support the aims of Hezbollah, so you’re not going to see much on that front.

The Security Council resolution, known as 1701, was seen at the time as the best way to halt the war, partly by giving Israel assurances that Lebanon’s southern border would be policed by a robust international force to prevent Hezbollah militants from attacking. When the resolution was approved, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of its principal architects, said the force’s deployment would help “protect the Lebanese people and prevent armed groups such as Hezbollah from destabilizing the area.”

But the resolution’s diplomatic language skirted a fundamental question: what kind of policing power would be given to the international force? The resolution leaves open the possibility that the Lebanese Army would grant such policing power, but the force’s commanders say that so far, at least, that has not happened.

The UN backs up its toothless resolutions with toothless “peacekeepers” that let Hezbollah rearm in broad daylight. Is this what they meant in the resolution by “disarming” them? They’ve kicked the problem down the road and pretend they’ve solved it.

In the meantime, it appears that the world body’s outrage is all spent, or at least it’s selective. When Israel fought back, the UN acted (well, for loose interpretations of the word “act”). When Palestinians lob rockets into Israel, the UN yawns.
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Cherry Picking at Its Finest

Certain portions of the National Intelligence Estimate were leaked by the liberal media less than two weeks before the mid-term election. The NIE report was written 5 months ago, but only now does it get leaked. Blame it on a media holding back until an opportune time, or blame it on politically motivated leakers timing a leak they knew the media would rush uncritically into, but either way it’s nothing but a smear campaign with the media playing a prominent role. It’s a role that they should not have been part of–as skeptical as they claim to be–but they jumped in with both feet.

Today, President Bush called their bluff and released other parts of the report for folks to read for themselves. It’s a shame that in order to get a fair hearing the Bush administration has to declassify material. It appears that those on the Left and their supporters in the media are more than willing to compromise national security and break the law in order to gain political points.

So you wanna’ cherry pick quotations? John Hawkins highlights another blogger, allegedly a former member of the U.S intelligence community, who does his own cherry picking that paints a completely different picture. Worth a read.

Of course, Democrats, reading what they want and ignoring the rest, hold on to the spin and proclaim this as some sort of indictment against the war in Iraq. They’re playing pure politics with national security. Again. They’re holding up this snippet of a report as the gospel truth. Wonder what their thoughts were on the NIE report that there may be WMDs in Iraq. Actually, when that report was discussed, those on the Left noted more cherries picked other quotes from it that expressed doubt about their presence. At the time, as noted on Redstate,

But the NIE, I recalled from the discussions following the “NO WMD!” declarations from the Dems and the MSM, had said that there were WMD. When the MSM found snippets which expressed doubt, it was explained that the NIE contained a diversity of opinions and outlook.

That was then; diversity of opinion. This is now; monolithic groupthink. Short-attention-span Democrat voters will fall for it. But no one should.

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Chaos? No. Struggle? Yes. Hope? Definitely!

Dean Esmay highlights some of the interview answers the President of Iraq. (Full story here.) Check his list out regarding the President’s view of what some call the “chaos” in his country.

I’d like to highlight a couple of other quotes.

When should the U.S. troops leave?

In seven provinces, the American army has withdrawn. The Iraqi army is replacing American forces in many cities. We hope that at the end of this year we will be able to control 12 provinces. We will remain in need of the American and coalition forces until we’ve trained our army and will be able to face terrorism and defeat it.

How long will that be?

I think within two years we will be able to train our army and have the capacity to face terrorism. . . . The presence of American forces — even a symbolic one — will frighten those who are trying to interfere in our affairs.

Not all, I imagine, but enough to make a difference, I’m sure. Seems the Murtha wing of the Democratic Party needs to consider the positive effect our troops are having there.

Now, one of the parties this is supposed to frighten is Iran, and the President says he got “real and serious promises” from them to not meddle in Iraq’s affairs. I’ve got a hefty bit of skepticism there, to be sure. However, there’s no doubt that Iran would consider it open season on Iraq were we to leave completely. Not even President Talabani wants that.

Would you welcome U.S. bases in Kurdistan?

Yes, they are welcome. Kurdistan wants the Americans to stay. In some places Sunnis want the Americans to stay — Sunnis think the main danger is coming from Iran now. There is a change in the mind of the Sunnis. The Sunnis are for having good relations with America. The [Shiites] have started to think that.

Will the U.S. put bases in Kurdistan?

I think we will be in need of American forces for a long time — even two military bases to prevent foreign interference. I don’t ask to have 100,000 American soldiers — 10,000 soldiers and two air bases would be enough. This will be [in] the interest of the Iraqi people and of peace in the Middle East.

Imagine that. Here’s a middle eastern President suggesting that an American presence will promote peace in the region. And which party isn’t willing to do that?

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The Captain At Bat

Captain Ed participated in a forum at Macalester College on the Iraq War last night. He posted his opening remarks on his blog, and I think it’s a great overall view of why the war was the right thing to do in general, even if, as happens in most wars, the execution wasn’t and isn’t letter-perfect.

He has a follow-up post this morning on how it all went.

Tough Questions for the Associated Press

What did they know and when did they know it? Mark Tapscott would like to know.

Saddam Hussein had a very trusted source inside AP, according to the translation of another of the thousands of documents captured by U.S. forces that are only slowing being made public. In this particular document, the source inside AP tells Hussein about the formation of UNMOVIC, the UN weapons inspection team.

So if Hussein had a credible source working for him within AP, was it a stringer in a Middle Eastern nation, an Iraqi “dissident” who had become a full-time employee or consultant to AP or a regular AP employee whose decades of agreement with the “Blame America First” school of foreign policy led to a decision to aid one of America’s enemies?

Is this individual still employed by AP? Has this individual gone on to work for another U.S. media organization like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, etc.?

And I would add my own questions. Is this a one-off, an isolated incident, or could there be more? Do the well-documented politics of journalists make this sort of thing easier for those who can blend in with those sympathies? This should become a top priority in media circles, to root out this sort of infiltration. Reuters may have a contribution to make in this area. Certainly they should have learned a little bit on how to discover a fauxtographer.

For a counter-point, check with the Captain. Given the timing of the memo, he doesn’t see this as being a big deal, and the memo doesn’t describe the nature of the source. This is all well and good, but effort should still go into finding out whether it was a reporter or just a desk clerk. It matters.
This, as well as other documents, have uncovered a lot of information about what was really going on in Iraq, including knowledge of weapons programs. Given what’s still untranslated, Mark notes:

And one more thought: There remain thousands of untranslated documents. We still do not know with any certainty whether in fact Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Emphasis his, and rightly so. We do know that we’ve recovered approximately 700 shells that contained or were designed to contain chemical weapons. Before people consider our current level of knowledge settled, understand that the fat lady hasn’t sung just yet.

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Iraqi Police Taking Up the Torch

Are we making progress in Iraq? Streiff at Redstate displays the map for all to see of the areas that were under Iraqi police control starting in January ’05 and continuing through July ’05, January ’06 and up to August 23rd ’06. The area just keeps getting bigger and bigger. As Bush has said before, as they stand up, we’ll stand down, and that’s precisely what’s being done. We’re training them, we’re helping out with the hotspots, and preparing them to hold their own.

We’re still not going to be out of there anytime soon. Gen. George W. Casey Jr. says, “In 12 to 18 months Coalition presence will be decided by the Iraqi government.” But it will be their decision to make. No one’s saying that the insurgency will be over and done with, but Iraq will be dealing with it themselves. We’ll still probably maintain a presence there (as we do in quite a number of countries around the world). But we will have accomplished the mission of giving control of Iraq to the Iraqis. A republic, if they can keep it.

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