Of Fallujah and Kirkuk
The US forces declared they had taken Samarra back away from the guerrilla resistance, though they admitted there there were still “pockets” of guerrillas. Although the US forces should be able to defeat the guerrillas in Samarra fairly handily, it is not clear that they can learn the language of diplomacy in time for that to make a difference in the political battle. In a guerrilla war, the real struggle is over popular support, a struggle that the Bush administration is badly losing in general. Whether it can achieve a genuine victory in Samarra, such that the guerrillas don’t come back in two weeks, remains to be seen.
Dexter Filkin of the New York Times reports that Muqtada al-Sadr appears to be weighing a run for parliament. It seems to me more likely that some of his aides will run for parliamentary seats, but that he will stay behind the scenes.
The Kurds mounted big demonstrations Saturday, demanding much more provincial automony. They want a popular referendum, and they want the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to be turned over to their “Kurdistan” province. Most Iraqi Arabs resist these moves. Although the US has been concentrating on security challenges in places like Fallujah and Najaf, it seems to me that the situation in Kurdistan and especially Kirkuk is explosive, for demographic and other reasons.