Security Agreement Undermines McCain; Dulaimi Was Planting Bombs; Awakening Councils Targeted

Muthanna Dulaimi was caught while planting a roadside bomb! The son of the leader of the Iraqi Accord Front, which has cabinet seats in the government of PM Nuri al-Maliki and from which one vice president derives, appears to be an active terrorist! Questions have swirled for some time about Adnan Dulaimi and his sons’ connections to the Sunni Arab guerrilla movement. Of course, some of the Shiite parties in parliament, including the Badr Organization and the Sadr movement, have also been involved in political violence.

The security agreement nearly completed between the Bush administration and the government of the Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki may pull the rug out from under Sen. John McCain on Iraq, according to AP. It will stipulate that US troops will be out of Iraqi cities by June, 2009 and then mostly out of Iraq by 2011. In that light, it will be much harder for McCain to paint Obama as “surrendering” or wanting to “cut and run,” since his withdrawal plan is very close to what Bush and the Iraqi government have agreed on.

McCain’s position on having long-term bases in Iraq a la South Korea was always pie in the sky, because it assumed that it was a decision he as president would get to make all by himself. Neither the Iraqi parliament nor Congress will likely actually put up with such a policy. Why McCain hasn’t been called on this by the Dems is mysterious to me. Why not do an ad? “McCain says he wants long term bases in Iraq. But that is not what the elected government of Iraq says it wants. Is he going to invade again to get what he wants?”

AP reviews Bush’s flip-flop on the timetable issue.

The Shiite government of al-Maliki is mounting a campaign to arrest hundreds of leaders in the Awakening Council movement among Sunni Arabs, which the US military created and paid for as a way of getting Iraqis to fight fundamentalist radicals (“al-Qaeda”). Although the McCain camp confuses the temporary troop escalation of 2007-2008 and the Awakening Council policy, in fact they were two different tracks. Other observers have argued that neither was as important as the massive ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods in Baghdad and elsewhere, in leading to a reduction of civilian deaths (no one left to kill of the other sect in a lot of neighborhoods). The big question is whether al-Maliki can keep the peace in Sunni Arab neighborhoods without the assistance of the Awakening Councils.

General David Petraeus, who has long been at loggerheads with al-Maliki over the Awakening Councils confirms to McClacthy that the Iraqi government has been dragging its feet on absorbing fighters from the Awakening Councils into government security forces.

Al-Hayat reports in Arabic that Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad are afraid that militias are returning to them. Shu’la, Abu Dashir and Sadr City had seen a big reduction in Mahdi Army and other militia activity in the past few months, but there are troubling indications of a resurgence, some residents say. Sadiq, who opened a music shop in Abu Dashir on the assurance of a return of security, was dismayed to see it fire-bombed, costing him a substantial investment. A note from the perpetrators accused him of contravening Islamic law (radical fundamentalists dislike music but it is not actually banned in mainstream Islamic law). Some residents of Shiite neighborhoods have begun again receiving personal threat letters. Such individual threats have been a major reason for the refugee crisis, since people tend to move out if they know a militia is gunning for them and knows where they live. The personal threat also prolongs the refugee crisis, since it is extremely invasive and victims are hard to convince that the threat has subsided; if they think the militia is still there waiting for them and will view their return as a capital crime, they won’t go back.

All the celebrating on the American Right about the “war” being “won” and security having returned is awfully premature, as Gen. Petraeus has underlined.

Not only did the Iraq War siphon off enormous resources from the US military effort in Afghanistan, it also provided the neo-Taliban with a model for fighting US and NATO troop presences.

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