November 28, 2006
"For the brothers who have not used weapons before, please take this advice . . ."
Zeyad at Healing Iraq has a long post which excerpts posts from neighborhood message boards in Baghdad. I believe they are mostly Sunni neighborhoods. Talk about learning on the fly. Here's an excerpt:
Abdul Rahman – Iraq:Read the whole thing.
For the brothers who have not used weapons before, please take this advice:
1- Check your weapon if you have not used it before. You can ask your neighbour to teach you how to attach the magazine and to load and fire. Do not be ashamed that it would be said you don’t know how to use a weapon, as many people have not had a chance to.
2- Choose the appropriate spot on your roof that can provide you with cover and make it hard for the enemy to target you.
3- It is best if every two families gather in one house when the alarm of an attack is raised to keep spirits high.
4- When you shoot, try to make it intermittent so you do not waste your ammunition. Be patient until more fighters arrive and your neighbours start shooting too.
5- You may feel fear upon using a weapon for the first time or that something bad would happen to you, but think of your family and what awaits them if you are hesitant. Keep your honour and your children in front of your eye, and remember that they have burnt children with kerosene.
6- Make sure that you have an extra magazine because in the midst of action you may take away your weapon and forget your extra magazine. It is preferred that you tape two magazines together. Ask your neighbours how to do that. Practice with it several times.
7- Fear of using weapons will disappear with the first shot. Do not hesitate to pull the trigger and concentrate on hitting the enemy.
Al Qaeda's attacks on Sadr City last week seem to have set Baghdad ablaze. From the tenor of the message boards, the posters are all exchanging intelligence on militia movements (it's telling that they refer to the Mahdi militia as the "Antichrist" militia) and locations, and advice on small unit tactics.
Zarqawi may be laughing from the grave. After the bombing of the golden mosque earlier in the year, the predominant narrative in the media was of increasing sectarian violence. Now, after the attack on Sadr City over the weekend, the Mahdi militia is out for blood. His civil war may have come.
Al Qaeda's timing, as always is impeccable. Just as this latest violence is instigated, President Bush flies to Jordan for talks with Maliki. Westhawk wondered last week whether Maliki's trip might be one-way.
Al-Sadr may soon, perhaps next week, make his play for power over Iraq’s Shi’ites. It would not surprise us if Mr. al-Maliki’s flight to Amman to meet Mr. Bush turned out to be one-way only. Should the al-Maliki government collapse, Iraq will not get another “national unity” government. What, if anything, has the U.S. done to prepare for this scenario?His larger point is that we have fine relations with the Kurds, and are developing a relationship with Sunni tribes, but if Sadr seizes the southern section of Iraq, what influence will the US have then?
Where is the vaunted Western press corps now? Surely they can observe fighting from the balconies of their hotels?
The next few days may be decisive in Iraq. Things to look for are:
-a collapse of the national government
-a mass exodus from Baghdad (Westhawk's post points to evidence that 150 Baghdad residents are entering Fallujah daily)
-de facto partition lines in the city (geography would indicate the Tigris, but you never know)
-the declaration of shadow or oppositional governments
If the government does collapse, the US should immediately put Iraq's military into receivership, as I recommend in my latest TCS column. Otherwise the units will evaporate, or choose sides. Even if it means installing American leadership in them or over them, it will be best if they are preserved and kept out of the fighting.
The prevailing image of the aftermath of a precipitous US withdrawal from Iraq has been a repeat of the last helicopter lifting off from Saigon in Vietnam. But those who either abhor this future or welcome it are wrong: the exact same effect was produced with far less drama at the ballot boxes in middle America on November 7th. Psychologically, the helicopters are long gone and everyone knows it. Now that America has departed, the aftermath continues apace. One aspect of magical realism is the inversion of cause and effect, such that "a character may suffer before a tragedy occurs." We are witnessing it.
Posted by Chester at November 28, 2006 12:37 AM
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Or, perhaps, calling to move the Capital into the Kudish provinces... and put the Kurds in temporary command of the Army. There are three sides in this and everyone forgets side 3.
In truth it is a multi-variate conflict, as Ramadi and Anbar are proving: al Qaeda is running out of supporters in the West, being ejected from Ramadi and now finding themselves a bit on the desperate side. The only group that is extremely competent in keeping internal order are the Kurds. Really, Iraq needs more Kurds to be stable. And I can think of one Nation that really could use a downsizing to add its Kurds to Iraq.
Or is that 'rightsizing'? These euphamisms...
Posted by: a jacksonian at November 28, 2006 10:29 AM
Linked to this post. Your last paragraph is absolutely spot on. Is there anything left but partition ?
Posted by: El Jefe Maximo at November 28, 2006 11:47 AM
I note with interest your TCS comments on Anbar. I too have read of the disaffection with AQII there and of the Sunni alliance against them.
While I'm a Bush supporter (more right than his critics) we have consistently underestimated the effort needed to win. The first thing he has to do is convince more Iraqis that we can win. Otherwise, more and more will join their neighborhood militia. Genocide won't be far behind. It has to begin in Baghdad.
I'm not competent to opine, but maybe we should progressively expand the green zone to create a safe harbor in that part of the city. Let Iraqis shelter there rather than heading for Ramadi, Najaf or beyond.
There are many Sunnis in Kurdistan. It would be interesting to understand just how the Kurds maintain security that noone else has figured out. Or are Kurdistani Sunnis focused elsewhere?
However, I also read the WaPo report on Devlin's report that things are very bad there. While I don't trust WaPo reporting generally, I don't see how they could have spun his report that far.
Posted by: lfstevens at November 28, 2006 8:47 PM
How old was the report the Post was quoting from. Anbar has turned around in the last few months. When did the Post get the report and why did they release the part they did now.
Posted by: davod at November 29, 2006 7:12 AM