Tal Afar as Ethnic Civil War
Much of the American press has reported the Tal Afar campaign as a strike by the new Iraqi Army, supported by US troops, against foreign infiltrators in the largely Turkmen city of 200,000.
As Jonathan Finer makes clear in the Washington Post, however, the operation looks different if we know some details. The “Iraqi Army” leading the assault turns out to be mainly the Peshmerga or Kurdish ethnic militia. Along for the ride are local Turkmen Shiites who are being used as informers and for the purpose of identifying Sunni Turkmen they think are involved in the guerrilla movement (apparently they sometimes make false charges to settle scores). Tal Afar was 70 percent Sunni Turkmen and 30 percent Shiite Turkmen. The Sunni Turkmen had thrown in with Saddam, and some more recently had turned to radical Islam. The Shiite Turkmen lived in fear of their lives.
So Kurds and Shiites are beating up on Sunni Turkmen allies of Sunni Arabs. That is what is really going on. The number of foreign fighters appears to be small, and US troops that had been guarding against infiltration on the Syrian border were actully moved to Tal Afar for this operation. It is mainly about punishing the Sunni Turkmen for allying with the Sunni Arab guerrillas. That the attack came in part in response to the pleas of local Shiite Turkmen helps explain why why Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari (Shiite leader of the fundamentalist Dawa Party) authorized it, and went to Tal Afar on Tuesday for a photo op.
The US will never get stability in Iraq if it is merely an adjunct to a Kurdish-Shiite alliance against the Sunni Arabs and their Turkmen supporters.
Reuters surveys guerrilla violence for Tuesday. The report was put out before a big bombing in Karrada in Baghdad that killed one and injured at least 16, and before the British & American diplomatic compound in the southern city of Basra came under rocket attack.
It was revealed Monday that on Sunday evening guerrillas in Latifiyah killed a bodyguard of Shaikh Ahmad al-Safi, a member of parliament and the foremost representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, during an attack on his convoy.
A Marine lance corporal back in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has given a succinct impression of his time in Iraq. It was hell, he said. It was extremely hot and “everybody’s always trying to kill you.”
The British government shouldn’t be taking any advice on anything or even talking informally to Ahmad Thomson, a British Muslim who had denied the Holocaust and alleged that a cabal of Freemasons and Jews put Tony Blair up to joining the Iraq War. These are hateful and unacceptable views totally ungrounded in reality, and no one who holds them could give any useful advice at all to Downing Street.