Shiite Militiamen Terrorize Sunni Arabs
Khalilzad Agrees to Talk to Sunni Guerrillas
The New York Times seems to have become convinced of the credibility of Sunni Arab charges that Shiite religious militiamen have infiltrated the new Iraqi army and security forces, and are conducting a campaign of murder against Sunni Arabs. Since the Bush administration is heavily depending on the Iraqi army and security forces to make Iraq safe as US troops withdraw, the implication is that the Sunni Arabs don’t have much of a future. The same militia-infiltrated forces in Najaf and Karbala have now taken over security details from the Marines, who have departed those cities.
On the other hand, Sunni Arab guerrillas are killing and kidnapping Shiite pilgrims.
US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, in an interview on ABC on Tuesday, said that he was willing to talk to leaders of the Iraqi guerilla movement save for two groups. One was Saddam loyalists and the other was followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Since there are virtually no Saddam loyalists, that exclusion is not important. Since the followers of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi wouldn’t talk to Khalilzad, and are a small group, that doesn’t matter much either.
Most of the 36 guerrilla groups in Iraq are Iraqi nationalists, Sunni Arab natioanlists, or local Salafi fundamentalists. If Khalilzad can open lines of communication to them, that would be all to the good. Coming on the heels of his announcement that he has been authorized to talk to Iran, it suggests a new pragmatism by the Bush administration in Iraq. These policies sound more like traditional State Department policies, and not at all like the kind of hard line that the civilian leadership of the Defense Department keeps pushing. Khalilzad is making all the right announcements. Let us see how the actual negotiations go.
As Robert Dreyfus implies, Khalilzad is building on the momentum of the Cairo Conference, which made concessions to the Sunni Arabs.
The US military has been planting stories with a positive spin in Arabic-language Iraqi newspapers, and paying for the placement via the Lincoln Group. The Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmad Chalabi, has a newspaper called al-Mu’tamar, which has run the articles as though they were news. Other editors could tell that they were editorials, but did not know they were coming from the Pentagon.
Of course, some of these “positive” articles in Arabic (which are not inaccurate in detail but simply grossly one-sided) may then get translated by the Foreign Broadcast Information Service of the CIA, the articles from which in turn are often picked up by BBC World Monitoring; or Iraqi bloggers may put out the information and perspective so that it gets into English. The Pentagon is forbidden from planting articles in the US press, but this method gets around the prohibition.
The other thing that can be done is to pass an idea for a psy-ops article over to the British military, which then places it in the US press covertly, not being forbidden by UK law from doing so. The Guardian reported that the British military had placed newspaper articles in the US press in the run-up to the Iraq war. The same arrangement gets around laws barring the USG from spying on Americans; they can just have the British MI6 do it and then share the information back with the US government.
Too bad Jeff Jarvis, who is always insisting on having good news from Iraq, can’t read Arabic– these articles are just what he seems to be looking for. Maybe the Lincoln group would agree to send him the English originals. Oh, but Jarvis has already denied that Iraqi writers might be being manipulated by US psy-ops . . .
By the way, Jarvis now claims he did not support the transitional government of Iyad Allawi, and for proof he offers an NPR item that he quoted. OK, if he says so, I accept it and am sorry if I pegged him wrong.
I take it he now regrets that Bush appointed Allawi transitional prime minister, and is hoping that Allawi’s list does poorly in the Dec. 15 election. He hasn’t said so.
But he is being typically over-dramatic when he says I had no basis for the inference. I went back and read his blog for summer-fall 2004 when Allawi was in power. There are constant demands that the press do “positive” stories about Iraq then. Wouldn’t you conclude that that was a sign he was happy with the transitional government? And then he says thank God for the blogger, Omar.
And Omar publishes this guest opinion in November of 2004:
On November 8, 2004, the Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi rightfully realizing that there could be no political or diplomatic solution with the insurgents in Fallujah, he ordered the Iraqi armed forces to storm Fallujah and he called upon the coalition forces to assist.
Allawi and the majority of Iraqis, including a great number of Fallujan citizens know that the Zarkawis and the Iraqi insurgents must be eliminated in order to pave the way for a successful and democratic election process in January 2005.
. . . In the week leading to the American election, the Secretary General of the U.N., Kofi Annan remarked that Fallujah should not be resolved through military action but through a political process . . . Once again, Kofi Annan is on the wrong side of the Iraqis. The Iraqi-American military operation must continue to the bitter end of ridding Fallujah of the extremists and enemies of Iraq, and thereby sleuth once and for all the anima of Saddam.
Dr. Joseph Ghougassian was US Ambassador to Qatar and Advisor in CPA/DoD. His email is Zena92029@yahoo.com
Posted by Omar @ 19:31
So Jarvis is pushing this site, and this site is publishing praise of Allawi for his complicity in leveling Fallujah. But Jarvis now says he didn’t approve of Allawi. But he doesn’t mention the Fallujah campaign, that I could see, at his blog. And he has only bile for Iraqi bloggers like Riverbend who were anti-Allawi. But he praised sites that praised Allawi. But he was against Allawi.
In fact his blog is deliberately hard to decipher as to its politics, except that he announces himself in sync with Andrew Sullivan and Bill Safire but then he says he is a Democrat but the Democrats complain to him when he blasts Kerry as indecisive . . .
If I’m accused of not being able to get a clear picture of where he stands, I plead guilty. But it is because he is his own unreliable narrator.