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Tilting at Windmills

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September 18, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

BLOWBACK....Via Tapped, Noah Shachtman, who's currently reporting from Iraq, worries about blowback:

Sunni political and tribal leaders are increasingly throwing in their lot with U.S. forces here against Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent types. But, to get them to come over to our side, the American military has fed them a steady diet of anti-Shi'ite propaganda.

Arrests and killings of Shi'ite militants are announced from loudspeaker blasts; President Bush's bellicose rhetoric towards Shi'a Iran is reported on friendly radio programs. But the majority of this country is Shi'ite. Are we setting ourselves up as the enemies of the majority here? Are we priming the pump for an all-in sectarian battle royale? It seems like a possibility.

It's not clear whether Noah is talking about American actions in Anbar province, in Baghdad, or just in general. But either way, this is the danger of being in the middle of the civil war: it's pretty much impossible to curry favor with one side for very long without losing the favor of the other side. At the moment, we probably don't have any choice but to continue our alliance of convenience with the Sunni tribes, but as a long-term strategy it sure doesn't look like much of a winner.

For more about this from a very senior source, take another look at this post from a couple of weeks ago. Arming the Sunni tribes against the Shiite central government isn't just an accident, it's a deliberate part of our strategy. This is not likely to end happily.

Kevin Drum 1:46 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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Comments

Yeah -- as they stand up, they turn the weapons we gave them on us.

What a great world it is for Al -- no negative consequences, no costs, just all Glorious Bush!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 18, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK
At the moment, we probably don't have any choice but to continue our alliance of convenience with the Sunni tribes, but as a long-term strategy it sure doesn't look like much of a winner.

"Long-term strategy"? And Bush's Iraq War? In the same discussion?

Posted by: cmdicely on September 18, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Siding with the Sunnis may indeed make sense, with the proviso that the only sensible long-term strategy is disengaging.

The Sunni Arabs are only about 20 percent of the population, versus 60 percent Shia, but they seem a lot better organized. Sunni insurgents have been far more dangerous to our troops than Shia militia are, and the Shia factions are already at each other's throats.

Iraq is headed for de facto 3-way partition. We have good relations with the Kurds. (They and the Sunni Arabs hate each other, but they aren't in each other face as much.) If we can only have good relations with one of the other two, better the Sunnis, especially since you can count on them to oppose expansion of Iranian influence.

Posted by: al-Fubar on September 18, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

"Long-term strategy"? And Bush's Iraq War? In the same discussion?

Kevin still refuses to accept the obvious: Chaos Is The Plan.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on September 18, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

So let me get this straight...we invaded Iraq to oust a Sunni strongman, spent billions of dollars and destroyed tens of thousands of lives and now 4 years later we are back full circle to 1980s strategery of siding with the Sunnis against Shi'a Iran? Talk about your perpetual war - Heckuva job Georgie.

Posted by: ckelly on September 18, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

BLOWBACK....Via Tapped, Noah Shachtman, who's currently reporting from Iraq, worries about blowback: —Kevin Drum

Dude! What do you think the whole of our relationship with that region has been for about the last thirty years if not one long blow-back event?

We do something stupid, like offering unconditional support for Israel, unconditional support for the Shah, arm the wrong people in Afghanistan, two-time Iran and Iraq during their war, let Saddam invade that valiant little "Democracy" Kuwait, and then, and then . . .

Posted by: JeffII on September 18, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

That's why we're training Iraqi troops and police to take over the country. Remember?

Hey, wait a minute. I thought we took over the country, remember?

Posted by: tomeck on September 18, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

More like, Why all this fake concern for Iraqis from a country that only cares about access to its oil reserves.

Posted by: D. on September 18, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Exactly why would we currently not have any choice but to side with Sunnis in Anbar?

They promise to protect us from the one percent- or less- that supposedly is AQI.

This in itself would be stupid enough to win the booby prize, but wait! there's more! Not only do we "ally" ourselves with them, but they are in the minority!

And the Bush people think this is incredibly clever because, once we're "allied" with the Sunnis who want to resume their minority rule of Iraq, we'll have to stay there forever "to protect them".

Way to go there, Bushie, you're doing a heckuva job!

Posted by: serial catowner on September 18, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

The best part of this plan is yet to come -- wait until after we bomb and invade Iran and turn over Iranian rule to the Iraqi Sunnis....

Posted by: Disputo on September 18, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

Why all this fake concern for Iraqis from a country that only cares about access to its oil reserves." Posted by: D. on September 18, 2007 at 2:23 PM

To keep up appearances for the only ones left who are buying this war, the US people.

So what part of the Little Red Handbook of Democracy does anti-Shi'ite (or anti-anybody) propaganda come under exactly?

Arg.

Posted by: Zit on September 18, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

I have always thought the US should align itself with the majortiy Shiites of Iraq and help them pound the Sunnis into submission. The minority Iraqi Sunnis have had decades to dominate the Shiites, and they were extremely perverse masters who now deserve no sympathy or support from the US.

Since this is what I think should happen, it should be no surprise that W. Bush and other Americans think, "we probably don't have any choice but to continue our alliance of convenience with the Sunni tribes." There is nothing to fear from the majority Shiites of Iraq or Iran, except their determination to act in their best interests. What W. Bush and his followers are now doing is setting up a return of a Sunni dictatorship in Iraq. The Shiites should oppose this developement with urgency.

Posted by: Brojo on September 18, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

In addition to the apparently deliberate arming of Sunni groups opposed to the government we created in Iraq, an interview with a spokesman for the Iraqi Sunni insurgency, excerpted and discussed at "Abu Aardvark" (link from Juan Cole's "Informed Comment") strongly suggests what common sense already would lead one to believe--we are arming those who fully intend to attack US forces. That is, the 98% of the Sunni insurgency which is not AQI is 1) looking to shut the opportunistic AQI down as it is a distraction on the home front 2) is perfectly content to let the US pay for that effort but 3) doesn't have any reason to stop fighting the US just because the US is stupid enough to give them the arms to do it with. The Sunni insurgency remains committed to the position that the occupation is the root of all problems in Iraq, and this insurgency view is the view of nearly every single Sunni in Iraq. Probably a good number of Shia too.

All this is extraordinarily obvious. I promise you every Arabic-speaking website I know of discusses the fact that the Sunni tribes are using the Americans as the most obvious of realities, as plain as the nose on your face is in a very clean mirror. Why is that not obvious to anyone here in the US?

Posted by: Jibril on September 18, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Editing required above - Let me help.

To keep up appearances for the very few US people, who are still buying Shrub's War.

The new Repug refrain - The Few, The Gullible, The Repugs.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 18, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Jibril, I have been taking that position from day one. It is utterly ridiculous - a prime example of magical thinking. My translation skills are pretty poor, but good enough that I have picked up the themes you describe.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 18, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Since this is what I think should happen, it should be no surprise that W. Bush and other Americans think, "we probably don't have any choice but to continue our alliance of convenience with the Sunni tribes." this developement with urgency.
Posted by: Brojo

Duh. Doing otherwise would piss off the Saudis.

Posted by: JeffII on September 18, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I meant the use of the word buying as in funding, not so much as in believing.

Your edits stand, however I am more apt to say: The Few, The Knowing, The Do-It-Anyway, The Repugs.

Posted by: Zit on September 18, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

"...invaded Iraq... 4 years later we are back full circle to 1980s strategy... "

Yup, It's time for a new strongman... we put Saddam in power and now we will install the next one. He will be supported as long as he toes the US line.

Posted by: Buford on September 18, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

"...isn't just an accident, it's a deliberate part of our strategy."

We have a strategy? I thought it was just "stop doing this shit, and it's over."

Posted by: Nemo on September 18, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

So, let's see. Saddam Hussein ran an unpopular government by using the Sunnis to control the Shia.

So, we are now running an unpopular government by using the Sunnis to control the Shia.

And remind me again what has changed?

Posted by: POed Lib on September 18, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

At the moment, we probably don't have any choice but to continue our alliance of convenience with the Sunni tribes, but as a long-term strategy it sure doesn't look like much of a winner.

Sure it does, if instability and division are one's goals. We're leaning toward the regional majority, not the local majority.

Posted by: Model 62 on September 18, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

Again, much thanks for your support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 despite the then-obvious mendacity of the Bush administration. It's enablers like you who have caused particular and irreversible harm to the US.

Posted by: dick tuck on September 18, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK
Arming the Sunni tribes against the Shiite central government isn't just an accident, it's a deliberate part of our strategy. This is not likely to end happily.

What sort of drugs are the guys who thought this one up taking?

Also, how can I get some? It must be pretty good stuff.

Posted by: Alphie on September 18, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK
So, let's see. Saddam Hussein ran an unpopular government by using the Sunnis to control the Shia.

So, we are now running an unpopular government by using the Sunnis to control the Shia.

And remind me again what has changed?

On the whole, Jenna and Barbara are better looking than Saddam's two son's.

Posted by: Alphie on September 18, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

...So, we are now running an unpopular government by using the Sunnis to control the Shia.
And remind me again what has changed?

Tens of Thousands of souls have left this world and billions of dollars have left our coffers.

Posted by: ckelly on September 18, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

This only serves to underline the fact that we are fighting two wars -- one against terrorism, another against instability -- and that the interests we have invested in each are often at odds with each other. Stability in Iraq is a lost cause; let's get outta there!

Posted by: Poéthique on September 18, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

My post was a response to an earlier post by AM. Apparently, his post was deleted cause it no longer exists on the board. Are we banning trolls now or did the intertubes get clogged?

[Apologies. Every once in a while when we clean up the spam from older posts we accidentally catch a legitimate, current comment. AM is not banned. --Mod]

Posted by: D. on September 18, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK
The Sunni Arabs are only about 20 percent of the population, versus 60 percent Shia, but they seem a lot better organized. Sunni insurgents have been far more dangerous to our troops than Shia militia are, and the Shia factions are already at each other's throats.

To date, Sunni militias have been more dangerous to our troops than Shi'a militia because we displaced a Sunni regime and placed a Shi'a-dominated regime in which Shi'a militias were incorporated wholesale into the security services in its place. While certain Shi'a factions (like, say, the Sadrists) who were left out of that bonanza have been disappointed, and some that were in on it have been disappointed that they didn't get more, largely, the Shi'a have benefitted from our largesse and have less reason to try to be dangerous to our troops.

Of course, our practice of arming Sunni militants may be changing that. I doubt that if the Blackwater incident had happened prior to that practice the Maliki government would have delicensed them: the delicensing is, I suspect, intended in part as a symbolic swipe at the United States.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 18, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

kd: At the moment, we probably don't have any choice but to continue our alliance of convenience with the Sunni tribes, but as a long-term strategy it sure doesn't look like much of a winner.


57-percent of Iraqis now call attacks on coalition forces “acceptable,” up 6-points from last winter and more than 3-times its level (17%) in February 2004.

what about sunni's?

Since March, acceptability of such attacks has risen by 15 points among Shiites (from 35 percent to 50 percent), while remaining near-unanimous among Sunnis (93 percent).

- ABC NEWS/BBC/NHK POLL – IRAQ: WHERE THINGS STAND 9/10/07


sunni's...gwb's new friends...

he sure can pick em...

Posted by: mr. irony on September 18, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

mr. irony:

Bush is a uniter in Iraq, apparently, in much the same way he has been in the United States.

Posted by: cmdicely on September 18, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

"I have always thought the US should align itself with the majortiy Shiites of Iraq and help them pound the Sunnis into submission."

No, no. The reason you put the minority in power is that being naturally disadvantaged they are easier to manipulate. If you put the majority in power they would get uppity and hard to control.

And promoting sectarian hatred is Imperialism 101. Some Roman wag called it "divide and conquer."

Really, other then a few stupid mistakes the project is moving forward nicely.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on September 18, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Again, much thanks for your support of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 despite the then-obvious mendacity of the Bush administration. It's enablers like you who have caused particular and irreversible harm to the US.

Greenspan and Lincoln Chafee are whores.

We've got to end this war, except it's not worth it to convince enough people to end it, because all those people will be coming around too late, thereby making them whores. So the only way to end it is to impeach George Bush. Which will require convincing people to impeach him, except, they didn't think before that we should impeach him, therefore they're whores for coming around too late, so we can't do it either.

Ah, if only the world was perfect enough for us glorious .25%-ers!

Posted by: Swan on September 18, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Too bad Kevin did not have the sense to see that the war was bad from the beginning- there is no way any reasonable person could have concluded otherwise at the time, and having supported the war to any extent at any time automaticall makes one an Iraqi-hating supporter of baby-killers.

For the record also, the only way to get out of being a whore is to eke out a living from a squatter's organic farm, grown in the soil dramatically peeking through the craked asphalt of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. All those lawyers in the ACLU trying to advocate for people's rights are just fooling themselves, thinking it's possible to achieve any justice from this system and slaving away to prove all the more they are such whores!

Posted by: Swan on September 18, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

no worries, sunnis would never hurt americans. not like those iranians, who invade a new country every week.

Posted by: an al on September 18, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

What Swan said! When all you liberals retreat from here as your spectacular educations have proved to you you should, leaving us to mete out harm to our ignorant victims, the world will be much better off for it!

[This is Swan's sock-puppet. --Mod]

Posted by: Contented Conservative Holding Four Aces on September 18, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Petraeus of Mesopotamia is making deals with the tribal Sunnis not with the Baathists who make up a great part of the resistance. Particularly he is making friends with sub-clans in the Dulaimi tribe which was not particularly close to the old regime. They revolted in 1995 and 1998 and were never really controlled by Saddam. These people fought Americans because the Americans randomly attacked and arrested them. Once that stopped, and they decided the fundamentalists were a bigger problem- they say the al Qaeda fundamentalists are "against the resistance", it was possible to come to some terms.

Here is part of an interview with Sheikh Saad who leads the Aithawi tribe, the largest sub-tribe (he claims) of the Dulaimi tribe:


"The British occupiers befriended the tribal leaders," Sheikh Saad says. "This is the key to winning the people. They understood our traditions, unlike the Americans now. The British did not surround homes and break into them. They consulted sheikhs and respected them, and after they occupied all of Iraq there was no more resistance." The American occupiers today, Sheikh Saad maintains, "push people to the ground and step on their heads. They arrest the relatives and wives of wanted men and hold them hostage. They are holding 100,000 Iraqis in their prisons. Iraqis have lost their dignity, and for this reason the resistance grows."

The sheikh pauses to contemplate, looking to the side. His cousin, a plump, narrow-eyed professor of Arabic history in a private university in Baghdad, confidently elaborates that "the British were clear about their goals. It was a real occupation. The goal was to divide the Ottoman Empire and occupy Iraq. The Americans came for many things and many reasons. The first reason was the liberation of Iraq, and this word 'liberation' implies that the country was occupied. But Iraq was not occupied, it was ruled by Iraqis. The second reason was weapons of mass destruction, and they found none. And now we are occupied, not liberated. They promised the Iraqis many things, and until now they did not fulfill anything. One was to rebuild Iraq, and you can see on the road on your way here that it has not happened." He pauses for air, and then chortles: "Liberate Iraqis from Iraqis? If they were occupied, then why didn't they overthrow the government?"

Asia Times
Defiant sheikhs and deadly shakedowns
Feb 27, 2004

Whatever game these people are playing with Petraeus of Mesopotamia is to their advantage. They know what Petraeus wants and how he wants to divide and conquer Iraq. My bet is that they are thanking him for the weapons and the money to beat down al Qaeda. They are fighting not be ruled by the fundamentalists, the Shiites or the Americans.

The lawyer (who is sitting with Sheikh Saad) leans forward, his face long and gaunt, unlike his better-fed relatives, and asserts: "Iraq is the cemetery of all its occupiers. The Americans are occupiers, not liberators. Iraqis are not stupid, they know the truth..."

The overall view of the Sunni tribes in Anbar is perhaps this (from another conversation with the son of tribal sheik Mudhir al-Khirbit of Ramadi)

...the only way to protect Sunnis was a Sunni state that would include Anbar Province, Mosul and Tikrit. But radicals like Al Qaeda were now in control of Anbar Province, and the resistance was finding it hard to resist Al Qaeda. "Al Qaeda kills Sunnis the most, and you don't know what they want," he said. His priority was to deal with Al Qaeda in the Anbar first, then reconcile with the Shiites and then work to end the occupation. "When Sunnis in Baghdad get arrested by the Americans they feel good because it's better than being arrested by Shiite militias." Despite this, he did not show hostility to the Shiites. "My father doesn't differentiate between Sunnis, Shiites and Christians," he said. "We don't have anything against Shiites. Shiites didn't kill 18 people from our family, the Americans did."


Posted by: bellumregio on September 18, 2007 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

"...Of course, our practice of arming Sunni militants may be changing that. I doubt that if the Blackwater incident had happened prior to that practice the Maliki government would have delicensed them: the delicensing is, I suspect, intended in part as a symbolic swipe at the United States."
Posted by: cmdicely on September 18, 2007 at 4:17 PM
----

Bingo! I also think those "symbolic swipes" are going to be increasing in the weeks ahead. Maliki may have reached the point of no return (not his choice), where he gets more net benefit by trying to throw us out than he does buying into our protection racket of him. We've abandoned him-this is his reaction. He probably is seeing us actively trying to put together a new coalition with Allawi and some Sunnis to force him out-he's playing his trump cards now. So, the time for a big upheaval is nigh. Maliki was the one that supposedly was in shouting matches with Petraeus over the arming of the Sunni tribes, etc. He was supposed to have called Bush and asked that he be replaced, etc. Now, it is obvious to him that we are determined to get rid of him and he is digging in.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 18, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

So, let's see. Saddam Hussein ran an unpopular government by using the Sunnis to control the Shia.

So, we are now running an unpopular government by using the Sunnis to control the Shia.

And remind me again what has changed?

Saddam and his boys are dead.

The Bush famiglia got its revenge, and that's what really counts. Mission Accomplished.

Posted by: Stranger on September 18, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

There are at least two major Kurdish factions. There are at least three major Shiite factions and choose your number for the Sunnis. The tribal Sunnis in the hinterlands have always had a degree of autonomy. They are being armed by the Americans to put down the fundamentalists and foreigners in their own region. This group was fighting al Qaeda on one side and the Americans on the other. They now regret boycotting the government and would like to come to terms with the dominant Shiites. But, like the Kurds, they do not want to be dominated by a Shiite government and they will not be since not even Saddam could do that. They also don't want to be ruled by the Americans, who have done nothing but humiliate them. If they can pacify the terrorists the first thing they will do is join with their fellow Iraqiis- the Shiites and perhaps the Kurds and call for American withdrawal. This will include all military garrisons and the embassy fortress in Baghdad.

Posted by: bellumregio on September 18, 2007 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

If they can pacify the terrorists the first thing they will do is join with their fellow Iraqiis- the Shiites and perhaps the Kurds and call for American withdrawal. This will include all military garrisons and the embassy fortress in Baghdad.
---

I think you're right on this. We are afraid of them "getting together", and may be banking on the fact that since they have been fighting each other so much, they will continue to do so. The diminishing influence and havoc wreaked by AQ, actually plays against our interests in staying there.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 18, 2007 at 6:23 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush overthrew the Sunni government in Iraq and intentionally installed a pro-Iran Shiite government. Now he is encouraging Sunnis to overthrow the government he foisted on that country. This is all a way to bring about all out war in the middle east. No other explanation makes sense. To pretend eh did not know Shiites would be friendly with Iran boggles the mind. This has to be intentional. Noo one is that stupid. Not even General "(they'll welcome us with) Open Arms?" Pace.

Posted by: apishapa on September 18, 2007 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

"What W. Bush and his followers are now doing is setting up a return of a Sunni dictatorship in Iraq. The Shiites should oppose this developement with urgency."

Well, Brojo, that 'with urgency' is something of an understatement, isn't it? One could see this change in backing the Sunni over the Shia coming for a year or so. I wouldn't be surprised if that's what the surge was about. I think it's because the idiot war planners just learned in the last year or so that Iran was a Shia country. There was a collective 'oh, shit!' heard in the halls of the WH and the Pentagon.
What imbeciles. Bush should have talked earlier with his daddy about how he doublecrossed the Shia at the end of the Gulf War. At the same time, the Sunnis aren't necessarily the bad guys either. I heard an Iraqi on TV talk about the strain on Sunni/Shia friendships now. But the fact is that friendships did exist before the war, at least in Baghdad.

Posted by: nepeta on September 18, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

[This is Swan's sock-puppet. --Mod]

So it's not enough that Swan clogs up every thread with multiple postings of badly written drivel under his original handle?

Rude ass.

How about shutting him down altogether?

Posted by: floppin' pauper on September 18, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

I personally find my posts much more redeeming than FP's. My posts at 4:36, 5:08 and 5:17 were some pretty intelligent, Swiftian criticism of some assholes who usually don't get *any* honest criticism for their assertions, which alone explains why those kinds of assertions remain so prolific. FP probably isn't even a genuine pauper. better to ban fp's address.

Posted by: Swan on September 18, 2007 at 11:57 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting to get the Iraqi Anbar view not filtered through the Bush propaganda machine or the Middle East experts above.

http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/1547.htm

Posted by: Luther on September 19, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

Excellent Josh Marshall video interview with Juan Cole here:

A Chat with Juan Cole

Posted by: nepeta on September 19, 2007 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

Blueberry, a la mode if it's not too much trouble. Mmmmm.

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2007 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

Gooseberry?

What the hell is a 'gooseberry'?

I have eaten a lot of pie, but I have never heard of this oddly appropriate flavor in the past.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 19, 2007 at 1:00 AM | PERMALINK

BGRS,

Gooseberry pie! Sure!!! To tell you the truth I've never tasted it, but a friend of mine planted gooseberry bushes just so she could make gooseberry pie. I think the berries are sort of a light yellowish green. Mmmm... We'd better goodgle it before eating it.

Posted by: nepeta on September 19, 2007 at 4:17 AM | PERMALINK

Gooseberries are really sour. You can put a lot of sugar on them, but you can't really make them read...er, taste good.

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2007 at 8:33 AM | PERMALINK

Gooseberries? I used to help pick 'em. Shortstop is right about the need for sugar. A cobbler is best with thick strips of dough and lots of sugar.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 19, 2007 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

bellumregio,

"They now regret boycotting the government and would like to come to terms with the dominant Shiites."

I think you're right about that. The problem is that, from what I understand, the Shiites -- or at least the Islamist groups that dominate the government -- have little interest in bringing them in. They mistrust the Sunnis, they don't want to share the oil wealth, and they want to establish a Shiite theocracy over all of Iraq. And in the war against the Sunnis, the Shiite Islamists see themselves as winning. As a result their motivation is to reject the tribal leaders peace offers and simply go on attacking.

Posted by: bobo the chimp on September 19, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

They mistrust the Sunnis, they don't want to share the oil wealth, and they want to establish a Shiite theocracy over all of Iraq.
--
I agree with the first two parts of that, but disagree with the last part (generally). Why? They are already sitting on the oil where they dominate demographically. That's why they pushed so hard for "semi-autonomous" regions in the Constitution. They just want their region with the oil-they could care less about the sand. However, specifically, the two main areas where Sunni/Shia are still mixed (Baghdad and Diyala) are different. The Shia *will* try to dominate both those places, but my guess is their focus will be on driving out the Sunni-simply continuing their segregation plan.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 19, 2007 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

doc,

"They just want their region with the oil-they could care less about the sand."

Except the areas where the Sunni live are not all sand, if they were there couldn't be millions of Sunni there.

"I agree with the first two parts of that, but disagree with the last part (generally)."

The Shiite Islamists are religious extremists who want to establish a religious theocracy over the whole world. And they are purists who consider Sunni religion to be false, and Sunni's worthy of being killed.

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