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Old 07-17-2014   #41
jcustis
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Default You cannot make this stuff up...

http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News...ion-void-.html

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Radical cleric Abu Qatada, who is being tried on terror charges in Jordan, on Tuesday denounced as "void" the declaration of a caliphate by Sunni jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

"The announcement of a caliphate by the Islamic State (IS) is void and meaningless because it was not approved by jihadists in other parts of the world," Abu Qatada wrote in a 21-page document published on jihadist websites.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been fighting in neighbouring Syria and Iraq, on June 29 proclaimed a "caliphate" straddling both countries and headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who now calls himself Caliph Ibrahim.

"This group does not have the authority to rule all Muslims and their declaration applies to no-one but themselves," said Abu Qatada.

"Its threats to kill opponents, sidelining of other groups and violent way of fighting opponents constitute a great sin, reflecting the reality of the group," wrote the Palestinian-born preacher.

Abu Qatada, who has repeatedly criticised the Islamic State, urged other Muslims against joining the Sunni jihadist group.

"They are merciless in dealing with other jihadists. How would they deal with the poor, the weak and other people?"

Jordan's jihadist movement is generally dominated by anti-IS groups that support Al-Qaeda and its Syrian ally, Al-Nusra Front.

Abu Qatada's statement came after leading Jordanian jihadist ideologist Issam Barqawi, known as Abu Mohammed al-Maqdessi, denounced the declaration of the caliphate on July 2.

Once mentor to Iraq's now slain Al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before the two fell out over ideological differences, Maqdessi told the IS to "reform yourselves, repent and stop killing Muslims and distorting religion."

Abu Qatada, who was deported from Britain in July 2013 after a 10-year legal battle, was acquitted last month of plotting a 1999 attack on the American school in Amman.

But he remained in prison, facing another terror charge of plotting to attack tourists in Jordan during millennium celebrations.
Agreed on the differences between N. Ireland and the current fractures in Islam. Two totally different times, places, circumstances, and underlying causes. Protestant or Catholic was just a bumper sticker.
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Old 07-17-2014   #42
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I think we risk misleading ourselves when we use Northern Ireland as a paradigm for what we're seeing in Muslim lands. This gets back to cherry picking an example of religious conflict (in this case it is actually is a political power conflict) to fit the proposal that governance is the fix.
Sort of agree. N Ireland is not the Middle East and the dynamics are very different, but in both cases the dynamics are in my opinion primarily not religious.

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If you look at other examples, oppressive governance has been effective in suppressing violence between sects (Indonesia, Iraq, Syria, Yugoslavia, etc.), but when the oppressive government loses the means to oppress (by whatever means) we often see sectarian conflict. Other forms of governance that don't discriminate, provide opportunity for all, etc. also seem to work if they can get to the left of the problem. I'm not aware of any historical examples, where changes in government policy (other than oppressive) have resolved deep rooted religious conflicts without religious leaders (civil society) mutually agreeing to stop the violence.
In many sectarian conflicts the great sectarian identifier is religious - but does that make it a religious conflict or a sectarian conflict? I would describe a religious conflict as one being where the primary motivator is a religious requirement. It therefore follows that for some in the Middle East the conflict is religious - they see themselves as under a religious duty to act as they do, but these are the fringe irreconcilables. Most sectarian conflicts in my opinion are over power and resources.
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Old 07-17-2014   #43
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In many sectarian conflicts the great sectarian identifier is religious - but does that make it a religious conflict or a sectarian conflict? I would describe a religious conflict as one being where the primary motivator is a religious requirement. It therefore follows that for some in the Middle East the conflict is religious - they see themselves as under a religious duty to act as they do, but these are the fringe irreconcilables. Most sectarian conflicts in my opinion are over power and resources.
I generally agree with the above, and it is the fringe irreconcilables I have been speaking of for the most part. They are in fact waging a war based on perceived religious duties.

The other conflict is sectarian, and religion is the key identity groups, so again religion plays a role. While the fighting may not be principally over religious reasons, it will take credible religious leaders along with government to get the violence under control. We can't simply ignore an identity group as some seem to be proposing.

Once violence evolves into hatred the political issues are not as important as hatred and fear in driving further violence, which just continues to escalate, at first mindlessly. The opposing religious identity groups are not going to stop the violence simply due to some political changes being implemented, although those changes are probably desperately needed. Governments will have to reach out to credible religious leaders to bring their folks into the peace process.

The only point in all of this is that religion matters, to ignore it completely to hype a particular model, or the desire secular Western approach, is misleading and potentially dangerous as we found out in Iraq.
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Old 07-17-2014   #44
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A problem with secular shoehorning of grievances is its application in cases where it does not apply. This holds especially apt when dealing with religious motivations involving religions that extent from the mere intrapersonal to the interpersonal (e.g. the organization of society as a whole along religious strictures). Could one engage in insurgency from an ideology of secular deprivation? Sure. Could one engage in insurgency from an ideology of religious commandment? Sure. Understanding 'why they fight' requires understanding their motivations, from their perspective, rather than shoehorning their motivations into what one might wish they were.

As an aside, the whole concept of violence as a method for implementing political change as being 'radical', 'extremist', etc. smacks of epistemological bias.
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Old 07-18-2014   #45
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In populace-based, revolutionary conflicts like we are seeing across the greater Middle East in the current decade, "understanding why 'they' fight" is interesting; but I believe it is in understanding why the broader population those fighters rely upon support the fight that is key.

There are many reasons why young men fight. There are many reasons that leaders of fighting organizations use in their public messaging. But these are the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of the mass behind these types of movements are an aggrieved segment of the population, that like an iceberg, is typically below the surface, not seen, and not well understood.

This is not dissimilar to recognizing that understanding why young men join the Marine Corps is very different than why our national leaders decide to employ the Marine Corps in combat - which in turn is very different than why our nation has a Marine Corps.

Not a perfect analogy, but point is that there are many layers to these things, and the layers that are the most visible and vocal are not of necessity the layers that are the most important to understand and address to move a situation toward some degree of durable stability.
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Old 07-18-2014   #46
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In populace-based, revolutionary conflicts like we are seeing across the greater Middle East in the current decade, "understanding why 'they' fight" is interesting; but I believe it is in understanding why the broader population those fighters rely upon support the fight that is key.

There are many reasons why young men fight. There are many reasons that leaders of fighting organizations use in their public messaging. But these are the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of the mass behind these types of movements are an aggrieved segment of the population, that like an iceberg, is typically below the surface, not seen, and not well understood.

This is not dissimilar to recognizing that understanding why young men join the Marine Corps is very different than why our national leaders decide to employ the Marine Corps in combat - which in turn is very different than why our nation has a Marine Corps.

Not a perfect analogy, but point is that there are many layers to these things, and the layers that are the most visible and vocal are not of necessity the layers that are the most important to understand and address to move a situation toward some degree of durable stability.
I agree up to a point. I'm not a huge fan of the center of gravity concept, especially Dr. Strange's proposal there is only one COG, and your approach sounds as though you have defined governance/government as the COG, and if we fix government/governance (again, how do we do that?) we will somehow achieve our ends against al-Qaeda.

While agreeing with your general argument about it being multilayered, I probably diverge from your view because I think we have to address all the layers to varying degrees (situation dependent). Where there are major insurgencies, it is unlikely the masses of locals that join that fight are entirely or even primarily motivated by religion. The foreign fighters? Unknown, but at least it is a possibility. Those that crashed planes into the WTC and the Pentagon, they were motivated by religion. The underwear bomber religion, etc. These networks are cleanly divided or easily defined, so multilayered is a good description. Within in these layers are some individuals (hundreds of them) that are highly motivated by religion to do us great harm. In the off chance they acquire a weapon of mass destruction they will be inclined to use it against our citizens because they believe they have the religious mandate to do so. We can't ignore religion, and at the same time we can't solely focus on it.
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Old 07-18-2014   #47
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Which is why the 4gw concept of a moral,mental,and physical level of war is becoming more important than more traditional forms warfare analysis.
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Old 07-18-2014   #48
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As an aside, the whole concept of violence as a method for implementing political change as being 'radical', 'extremist', etc. smacks of epistemological bias.
LOLOL - this is SO true! I would, actually, go further and suggest that it is a case of epistemology being driven by both ideology and sub-conscious cultural programming.

Let's, for the moment and for the sake of argument, take a bit of a step backwards and look at how the concept of "religion" is being (mis)used. I suspect that there are a number of such (mis)uses, namely:
  1. Assuming that a "religion" is coherent and whole
  2. Aussuming that all members of a "religion" or a "sect" share the same beliefs
  3. Disregarding a) how and b) that "new" interpretations of "religions" appear both organically and, also, in response to the lived environment
  4. Mistaking the name for the thing (map - territory error)

I'm just going to comment on the final point, the map - territory error that seems to be happening a lot. One of the problems that I see appearing is that many commentators assume that since the content / name of a group is different, there will be no underlying pattern of human interaction that can be perceived. This, IMHO, is what Bob is looking at in part with his stress on governance: an underlying pattern. My concern with Bob's focus, however, is that it stresses that singular (and secular) pattern too much and, in doing so, creates a secondary bias against pulling out other patterns.

For example, one (blindingly obvious ) pattern is that people who are recruited into "religious" groups engaged in combat (terrorism being just a tactic within a broader context of combat), generally know very little about their own, professed religion. So, what can we tell from this pattern?

Well, one thing we can draw out of it is that the kids so recruited often tend to leave once they gain more actual knowledge of their religion (unless it is also tied in with a long-term conflict involving other forms of identity, e.g. Northern Ireland). A second thing we find is that these movements tend to centralize control over ideology / "religious" knowledge, something that usually backfires over a longer period of time. A third thing, coming from the second, is that centralized ideology / religious knowledge becomes increasingly narrow (think "politically correct" on steroids) and, also, vicious in application (think "kill them all, God will know his own").

But the pattern I'm talking about here, the "spiral into insanity" as it were, actually is not really counterable by focusing on governance issues. To make matters even worse, the use of "religion", and especially in a state of multiple, competing "religious" groups following the same pattern, will tend to undermine the entire culture areas basic assumptions about legitimacy and sovereignty; at least that was the argument I made in my last WOTR piece .

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Old 07-18-2014   #49
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To clarify, when asked to address a problem as a whole, rather than a single niche component of the problem that this thread focuses upon, I offer more comprehensive positions. By focusing my answer on the question I apparently have created the perception that all of those other aspects do not matter. They do.

Still not a comprehensive answer, but to clarify that when I say "governance" I do not mean "government." Equally, when I say the problem is governance, I do not mean that there must be some massive development of institutions or infrastructure, or radical change of form or function to reduce the negative energy in the system. From a paper where I included a section on why we need to shift from objective tactical metrics to more subjective strategic metrics to gain a better sense of if we were helping a place to make true progress:

Quote:
Tactical definitions and tactical metrics undermine strategic progress: Our doctrinal definitions focus our efforts on the symptoms of insurgency rather than upon the fundamental nature of insurgency. Similarly, our metrics for assessing progress are largely tied to tactical measures of progress. Overtime we have increasingly compromised critical strategic factors in order to maximize our tactical effectiveness. Night Raids are a classic example of this, designed to maximize objective tactical gains, but at the expense of strategic principles. Sums of tactical gains do not equal strategic success.
Recommendation: Reframe the entire operation to promote the following perceptions: sovereignty – is governance IAW the expectations of the affected populations; legitimacy – do the affected populations recognize the right of this governance to affect them; justice – how do the people feel about the rule of law as applied to them; respect – do people feel they are treated equally to similarly situated populations more closely aligned with governance; lastly, empowerment – do people across the population perceive they have trusted, certain, legal and culturally relevant means to shape the governance that affects them. These are subjective and in the perspective of those affected.

When sides from along religious lines, and one side aligned with governance perceives themselves to have these things, and those not aligned with governance perceive themselves to not have these things, it sets the stage for a far more exploitable, passionate, and ruthless form of conflict than when the lines are not based in religion.


As to the role of the military, be that the military of some intervening power or that of the host nation, I offered this in another paper:

Quote:
Engage the threat: There are limits to the positive effects military activity can provide. Too much or too inappropriate and one is likely to add negative energy to the system, rather than take energy away. One must design and conduct tactical actions for strategic effect. The military also provides a critical supporting role to civil governance in three important ways as it works to indirectly reduce the negative energy in the system:
o Mitigate the negative impacts of poor governance and TCO/VEO activities on relevant populations
o Temporarily suppress or disrupt the symptoms of the threat (networks, activities, individuals, etc.)
o Create time and space for civil authorities to act directly to reduce the energy in the ecosystem
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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Old 07-18-2014   #50
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To clarify, when asked to address a problem as a whole, rather than a single niche component of the problem that this thread focuses upon, I offer more comprehensive positions.
Threads tend to deep dive on a particular topic, but I see no indication that anyone posting here is advocating that it is all about religion and nothing else matters.

While you may offer more comprehensive positions, you don't offer realistic comprehensive solutions. You offer ideas that our government doesn't support such as the division of Iraq. I tend to agree that may be the best answer, but we really don't know if it will work, or if it is in our interests to allow this. Recommendations to be valuable have to be in line with policy guidance.

Legitimacy is certainly an issue, but it will seldom be an answer to addressing conflicts where there are multiple versions of what legitimacy is. Most of the violence is over identity groups attempting to establish their version of a legitimate government.
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Old 07-19-2014   #51
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Bill, strategic understanding is only politically correct by coincidence.

Tactical action is politically correct by design.

Besides, neither you nor I know what our government's plan is for Iraq. But if one simply assesses the facts with an open mind it looks like the Balkanization of Iraq and Syria is the one thing that the Gulf States, Turkey, the US, and probably Iran, Israel, Russia, and most others seem to tacitly agree upon in a long time.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)
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Old 07-19-2014   #52
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Bill, strategic understanding is only politically correct by coincidence.

Tactical action is politically correct by design.

Besides, neither you nor I know what our government's plan is for Iraq. But if one simply assesses the facts with an open mind it looks like the Balkanization of Iraq and Syria is the one thing that the Gulf States, Turkey, the US, and probably Iran, Israel, Russia, and most others seem to tacitly agree upon in a long time.
Which is the whole problem of a politically correct anything, it destorts reality by design in order to avoid coming to a proper conclusion based upon the facts of reality as opposed to some preconceived notion of how things should be based upon some political agi-prop.
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Old 07-19-2014   #53
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Bill, strategic understanding is only politically correct by coincidence.

Tactical action is politically correct by design.

Besides, neither you nor I know what our government's plan is for Iraq. But if one simply assesses the facts with an open mind it looks like the Balkanization of Iraq and Syria is the one thing that the Gulf States, Turkey, the US, and probably Iran, Israel, Russia, and most others seem to tacitly agree upon in a long time.
Bob, I wish it was that simple, strategic understanding is biased by political correctness and a lot of other factors involving the individuals seeking that understanding. Action may or not be politically correct. Some would argue using drones to kill U.S. citizens in Yemen may not have been politically correct.

As for dividing Iraq, there was a recent statement made by either the President or his Press secretary that the U.S. policy was to support a united Iraq. That policy could change in time, but we all are aware of another situation where division of a country was supposed to lead a better peace, and that was UK's division of India to include West and East Pakistan. The actual division of the country resulted in up to a million killed during the migrations to one side or the other. Then it resulted in several wars, and still they have border skirmishes and are one of the more likely locations for a nuclear weapon exchange. Dividing the country won't be easy, and it will be most likely be very violent, so I'm not sure Turkey or any other country in the region wants to see a divided Iraq.

Interesting report from CSIS

http://csis.org/files/media/csis/pub...vidingiraq.pdf

Dividing Iraq: Think Long and Hard First

Quote:
Recent elections have made it clear, however, that its cities and 18
governorates all have significant minorities, and any effort to divide the country would require massive relocations.

Moreover, Iraq is heavily urbanized, with nearly 40% of the population in the
divided Baghdad and Mosul areas. Kirkuk is already a powder keg, and Basra is
the subject of Shi’ite Islamist “cleansing.” Ulster and the Balkans have already
shown how difficult it is to split cities, and with Iraq’s centralized and failing
infrastructure, and impoverished economy, violence and economics cannot be
separated.
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Old 07-19-2014   #54
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Surely our government would not say one thing and do, support or wish very hard for another?? (tongue firmly in cheek).

I really don't know, but sure looks like letting the current governments hold onto some portion where the majority is more autonomous (and the minorities too small and weak to cause much trouble) is what is most likely to occur. it will be messy, and while it may take a generation or two, is probably the best bet for getting to some degree of trust and natural stability for all of the many and diverse people of this region

In shah Allah. And if the Sunnis want to call their portion a "Caliphate," more power to them. Better to have a tangible Caliphate that is a small, weak state on the west banks of the Euphrates - than to retain the Caliphate as a powerful, unifying idea in the minds of frustrated young Sunni men.

As to the state of Iraq clumsily cobbled together by the US, it no longer exists. We will make the same mistake we made in Lebanon in the early 80s if we think this is still a national government and national security force and attempt to prop them up. This is now quickly becoming a de facto Shia government and Shia militia. To go in now is to take a side, and that does not serve our interests now any more than creating the perception that we were Christian Americans siding with Christian Maranites did then.
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"The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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Old 07-20-2014   #55
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As for dividing Iraq, there was a recent statement made by either the President or his Press secretary that the U.S. policy was to support a united Iraq. That policy could change in time, but we all are aware of another situation where division of a country was supposed to lead a better peace, and that was UK's division of India to include West and East Pakistan. The actual division of the country resulted in up to a million killed during the migrations to one side or the other. Then it resulted in several wars, and still they have border skirmishes and are one of the more likely locations for a nuclear weapon exchange. Dividing the country won't be easy, and it will be most likely be very violent, so I'm not sure Turkey or any other country in the region wants to see a divided Iraq.
I don't think anyone is suggesting that "we" (however "we" might be constructed) should divide Iraq. It's not a question of Iraq being divided by some outside party or parties, more a matter of outside parties accepting the reality that Iraq is in the process of dividing itself. It is of course true that this process is violent and will get more violent, but I don't see what anyone is supposed to do about it, short of a decision to either run Iraq as a de facto colony or to install a new dictator and provide that dictator with enough armed force to hold it together.

Dissolution was a predictable and widely predicted consequence of removing Saddam, so there's really no need for affectations of surprise at the outcome.
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Old 07-20-2014   #56
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Dayuhan,

It isn't rocket science, we (to include other states who take an interest in this) have a number of tools to support the central government and weaken opposition parties who desire to break away. We, along with other states, have a long history of supporting governments that some parties would have desired to break away from, but due to foreign assistance the governments were too strong to challenge.

With the exception of the Kurds, I haven't heard any other group express a desire to further divide Iraq. Has anyone heard Sunnis and Shia agreeing on a potential division of Iraq? If the Kurds control the northern oil fields and the Shia the southern oil fields, what does that leave for the Sunni?

I really don't think dividing Iraq into three separate states will work upon further consideration for a lot of reasons. Maybe promoting and enabling an independent Kurdistan would be in our interest.
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Old 07-20-2014   #57
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In shah Allah. And if the Sunnis want to call their portion a "Caliphate," more power to them. Better to have a tangible Caliphate that is a small, weak state on the west banks of the Euphrates - than to retain the Caliphate as a powerful, unifying idea in the minds of frustrated young Sunni men.
.
Why would the one preclude the other? It seems to me the weak state does not preclude the unifying idea at all. In fact its very existence gives that idea something tangible to coalesce around. Frustrated young might rather like something tangible to fight for. And weak states can develop into strong ones. This one is already strong enough to take over large parts of two countries and stand off forces from the Baghdad gov and Iran.
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Old 07-20-2014   #58
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It isn't rocket science, we (to include other states who take an interest in this) have a number of tools to support the central government and weaken opposition parties who desire to break away. We, along with other states, have a long history of supporting governments that some parties would have desired to break away from, but due to foreign assistance the governments were too strong to challenge.
I'm not sure there is a viable "central government" at this stage. There's a Shi'a government that claims to be a central government, but despite very prodigious foreign assistance it cannot control much of it's nominal territory. I think the reality that we don't want to face is that there are only two ways that a central government is going to control Iraq. One would be through genuine inclusion and cooperation, a lovely idea that neither we nor anyone else can impose. The other is Saddam's style, which is probably no longer possible. We attempted the first method, and (predictably) failed. In the process we broke down the dictatorial apparatus so thoroughly that it probably can't be reconstituted. How long do we keep doubling down and trying to put Humpty Dumpty together again before we recognize that it's no longer our decision to make?

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With the exception of the Kurds, I haven't heard any other group express a desire to further divide Iraq. Has anyone heard Sunnis and Shia agreeing on a potential division of Iraq? If the Kurds control the northern oil fields and the Shia the southern oil fields, what does that leave for the Sunni?
Of course the Sunni and Shi'a don't want division. They both want the whole thing, but neither has the capacity to take the whole thing. This is not going to be settled by people sitting down at a table and deciding on a polite division. They will kill each other until either there's a winner and a loser or they get too tired to keep fighting and agree on a division out of exhaustion.

The Sunni of course will be left with not much, though ISIS has apparently taken (and may or may not be able to keep) some of the northern fields in the Mosul area. If Iraq is ever stable enough for serious exploration it's very possible that oil will be found in Sunni areas, but that's not likely any time soon.

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I really don't think dividing Iraq into three separate states will work upon further consideration for a lot of reasons. Maybe promoting and enabling an independent Kurdistan would be in our interest.
Certainly an externally imposed division wouldn't work. The process just needs to play out; we may have started it but it's no longer under our control and the Iraqis are going to have to work it out for themselves. It's not going to be pretty.
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Old 07-21-2014   #59
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https://news.vice.com/video/rockets-...nge-dispatch-7

These Jews put the Torah over the state. A very interesting video, well worth watching to capture the atmospherics of the settlers.
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Old 07-26-2014   #60
Red Rat
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Default The view from IS

Pertinent tweet from an Islamic State (IS) affiliated Twitter account.

The context of the conversation was comment on IS nascent air capabilities and their probable lack of necessary logistical support. An unsolicited response received was (verbatim):

"we taught u u a lesson in how a trained Heart doesn't fail. Unfortunately u didnt pass"

Clearly for many in IS this is a religious war, which to my mind puts the political dynamic closer to that which the Israelis perceive in their dealings with Hamas. This is not a battlespace (political or military) which the West appears comfortable in dealing with. As Alastair Campbell said with regards to the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair: "We don't do God".
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