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Sectarian Cleansing and the Surge

Here are some cold hard facts about the situation in Iraq that war supporters will be quick to ignore as reported by the New York Times:

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The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has soared since the American troop increase began in February, according to data from two humanitarian groups, accelerating the partition of the country into sectarian enclaves.

Despite some evidence that the troop buildup has improved security in certain areas, sectarian violence continues and American-led operations have brought new fighting, driving fearful Iraqis from their homes at much higher rates than before the tens of thousands of additional troops arrived, the studies show.

The data track what are known as internally displaced Iraqis: those who have been driven from their neighborhoods and seek refuge elsewhere in the country rather than fleeing across the border. The effect of this vast migration is to drain religiously mixed areas in the center of Iraq, sending Shiite refugees toward the overwhelmingly Shiite areas to the south and Sunnis toward majority Sunni regions to the west and north.

War supporters credit the surge with reducing the overall level of violence in Iraq. This dubious assertion is an integral component of the deceptive marketing campaign that the administration, its collaborator pundits, and their sockpuppets in the right-wing blogosophere have been faithfully regurgitating as part of their strategy to play out the clock on the Iraq War and dump the whole disaster on the next President (who will almost assuredly be a Democrat). The message that the surge is "working" has also been faithfully repeated in most of the MSM without any real substantive and critical analysis.

Reports from credible relief organizations like the Iraqi Red Crescent contradict the administration's slick marketing message on the surge. If the surge has succeeded in anything it is in accelerating the massive dislocation of Iraqis from their homes. On the positive side, neighborhoods that have been cleansed in this matter provide less opportunity for Shiite militias and Sunni insurgent groups to launch deadly attacks aimed at innocent civilians of the opposing sect.

If one had a conspiratorial mindset, one might believe that this consequence was actually an intended goal of the surge. By promoting sectarian cleansing and arming the Sunni insurgents (the old "pay them off over there so we don't have to fight them over here" deal) the administration may be laying the groundwork for the eventual partition of Iraq.

Partition isn't very popular among the Iraqi people, but may in fact be the best way to separate the warring parties and restore some stability to the country. The new Sunni state could help serve as a buffer against the expansion of Iranian influence that George Bush has facilitated by toppling the most effective check on the Iranians: the regime of Saddam Hussein.

The biggest problem with partition is Baghdad itself which the Shiites will almost certainly try to grab. This could result in a sectarian bloodbath in the capital and a major dislocation of Baghdad's remaining Sunni population. Then, of course there is the anticipated struggle over the fate of Kirkuk.

Whatever happens will be a far cry from the neoconservative wet dream of reshaping the Middle East in the image of America. It's high time to bring our troops home and leave the fate of Iraq to the Iraqis themselves to decide. Our continued presence only delays the inevitable day of reckoning.


Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (2)

Lee Ward:

The partitioning of Iraq has been a long time coming, but the decision will have to come from within, and I am not convinced that Maliki will admit his failures gracefully and acquiesce. How to move him towards that decision is the mission, but with the Presidential elections looming and the record profits still rolling in expect NO help from the Bush administration at this stage.

The increased migration is a definite sign of the increased chaos caused by the surge. As the insurgents moved away from the recently fortified neighborhoods of Baghdad towards the outlying areas they brought violence with them. Now, 100,000 Iraqis are leaving their homes each month, as the violence moves into areas which were previously relatively calm.

Last November we were calling this the "whack-a-mole" effect. Now that term, although still accurate, seems inappropriate. It's not a game, and it certainly isn't funny.

Lee Ward:

And I Just read where Maliki is lashing out at at US critics like Clinton:

Iraq's beleaguered prime minister on Sunday lashed out at American critics who have called for his ouster, saying Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Carl Levin need to "come to their senses."

Nouri al-Maliki, who is fighting to hold his government together, issued a series of stinging ripostes against a variety of foreign officials who recently have spoken negatively about his leadership. But those directed at Democrats Clinton, of New York, and Levin, of Michigan, were most strident.

"There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin. They should come to their senses," al-Maliki said at a news conference.

and he's also throwing mud at the US military:

"Concerning American raids on Shula (a northern Shiite neighborhood) and Sadr City (the Shiite slum enclave in east Baghdad). There were big mistakes committed in these operations. The terrorist himself should be targeted not his family.

"When they want to detain one person, they should not kill 10 others. These are mistakes which we have to deal with. We will not allow the detaining of innocent people. Only the criminals should be detained," the angry al-Maliki declared.

Two nights ago the U.S. military raided the Shula neighborhood and said it killed eight "terrorists" who had attacked an American patrol from rooftops. Some Iraqis reported many civilians were killed and wounded.

U.S. forces also are routinely raiding Sadr City, often calling in helicopter fire. The U.S. says it targets only Shiite militia fighters. Iraqi officials regularly report civilians killed in the raids.

The pilgrimage to Karbala is also mentioned in the linked article, and it has the earmarks of disaster waiting to happen. A million Shiites converging on Karbala - peaking Tuesday and Wednesday - this looks like a choice target for a major Sunni attack.



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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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