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Thread: Six Months That Could Change Iraq

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    Default Six Months That Could Change Iraq

    Here is a thoughtful piece, Six Months That Could Change Iraq: Three Possible Post-Surge Scenarios, by Fred Kaplan in a recent issue of "Slate." Kaplan offers three possible scenarios unfolding in Iraq over the next six months; one good, the other two bad.

    If you accept the characterization of Iraq today posited by Bing West in his recent response-article to Colin Kahl that Iraq is essentially one of a simple counterinsurgency problem with al-queda being the insurgent and now the tribes, shia and sunnis writ large, and the government along with US support fighting the alqueda insurgents then Kaplan's "good" scenario seems very possible. If however, you see Iraq now as a complex problem of Civil War consisting of multiple players and actors then Kaplan's two "bad" scenarios look very likely.

    In any case it is a good and short read.

    gg
    Last edited by Gian P Gentile; 12-29-2007 at 12:58 AM.

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    Thumbs up

    The first potential outcome discerned by Kaplan, to be honest, sounds almost too good to be true. We'd all sure take if we could get it, but somehow it just seems a little too far-fetched to be well, realistic.

    When an Iraqi Government minister, a Shi'a, went on TV last week or the week before that and demanded that the Sunni Militias operating alongside the US be reduced in strength by 80%, turn in their arms, and the remaining 20% be incorporated directly into the Iraqi security forces, I couldn't help but fear that this may have been the opening shot in one of Kaplan's less pleasant potential outcomes. The Shi'a in the Government know perfectly well that the Sunni are fearful of Shi'a control of most of the security forces, and especially Shi'a militia infiltration of said. To demand the effective disarmament of the Sunnis is just going to stoke the latter's fears and suspicions. A bad, bad move. And meanwhile US options, especially military ones, are and over the coming several months will become, increasingly constrained and less potent.

    Now that the First Phase of the Insurgency/Civil War appears to be "culminating", the potential for a full-fledged Civil War between somewhat more "conventional/regular" forces, operating from much more clearly Sunni- or Shi'a-controlled regions and districts, could just be a few months and political missteps away. Once the US drawdown has really taken hold by next summer or so, the window of opportunity for a rather more decisive match between the players in Iraq will open and progessively widen. Until then, the players may bide their time, consolidate their positions, and make preparations for the decisive campaigns that may lie ahead.

    Very good article you posted for us, Gian.
    Last edited by Norfolk; 12-29-2007 at 03:03 AM.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question As usual

    good article. I wonder though. We so often speak of what will come about in terms of leadership, politics, infrastructure and our predictions stem from this.

    Why is it so rare to hear about what the very large number of people in that society are wanting and how hard they will fight to keep it. Is it just pie in the sky to think that there is a fourth possibility where large numbers of the populace set forth their demands to their local leaders that they are really tired of fighting and want their children to be able to have some peace within which to grow. There might also be many religious leaders aside from the media's favorites which might contribute to change in ways as of yet unseen.

    Realizing that this part of the world has for so long been in constant turmoil and assuming that this continues might be the smart bet but it seems interesting that we can so easily discount those who are a large part of success or failure.

    Yes many local leaders brought people to the table to work with us, but even more than that have to have chosen to work towards what is currently the situation. I think we might be selling the little guy short but I guess only time will tell.

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    Good article although I am just about finished with any reference to "another six months will make all the difference in the world."

    Also known as the Friedman Unit - in honor of Tom Friedman's overuse of the term - the six month window of time is irrelevent in my lowly opinion. Think years, not months for lasting successes.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ski View Post
    Good article although I am just about finished with any reference to "another six months will make all the difference in the world."

    Also known as the Friedman Unit - in honor of Tom Friedman's overuse of the term - the six month window of time is irrelevent in my lowly opinion. Think years, not months for lasting successes.
    Peace and stability will take years. A full blown civil war could break out in a day or two. I've always thought breathing space = reconciliation was nothing but wishful thinking. I'm glad that we'll get the chance to find out. I didn't think that we would.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Humphrey View Post
    Is it just pie in the sky to think that there is a fourth possibility where large numbers of the populace set forth their demands to their local leaders that they are really tired of fighting and want their children to be able to have some peace within which to grow.
    All wars end sooner or later. I've always thought that the more we let the Iraqis fight, the sooner they'll get tired of it.

    I see two major problems on the way to "reconciliation". One: we'll insist that everyone gets along in a country called Iraq, and that may not be what they want. Two: three ethnic groups, two major areas with oil, make it difficult to work out a deal that everyone thinks is fair.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

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