Tag Archives: sistani

Kill Baathists. Kill Qaedists. That is Military Victory.

Post-Zarqawi Goals,” by Cliff May, The Corner, 25 June 2006, http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NDFmYjFmOWY3NDJhOTAyZjIxMDExY2QyY2NmMDg2Nzc=.

Cliff May is talking sense:

The elimination of al-Qaeda commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi presents an opportunity that should not be missed: Now is the time to take a fresh look at America’s goals in Iraq.

Defeat at the hands of Militant Islamist terrorists and the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s forces would be disastrous.

The consequences would unfold over decades. The perception – and perhaps the reality – would be that the U.S. military, despite its technological prowess and the courage of its troops, is no match for enemies armed with cell phones and garage door openers (used to set off Improvised Explosive Devices), butcher knives and video cameras.

Now is the time to prioritize: The primary goal should be suppression of the forces once led by Zarqawi and Saddam, particularly, in and around Iraq’s capital.

I’ve said similar things before. The upshot: leave Iraq.


In my series entitled Guerrillaz, I used lyrics from the popular song “Clint Eastwood” to demonstrate why we should allow Iraqis to defend themselves.

I’m happy, I’m feeling glad…
I’m useless but not for long:
the future is coming on….
Finally, someone let me out of my cage…
I’m good at repairs…
look, I’ll make it all manageable…
a spiritual hero who appears in you to clear your view…
Gun smokin’, righteous
Allow me…

In the context of Iraq, the “I” are the Kurdish and Shia militias. Current US policy views them as detrimental to success in Iraq, but they are the future of Iraq. They are the energy of a freed people, the protectors against a return to Sunni despotism (whether Baathist or Qaedist). By enabling the majorities of Iraq — the Shia and the Kurds — to run their own country, we transform Iraq into a country that is manageable. The current Bush administration policy of appeasing terrorists creates an unmanageable country. Spiritual Iraqi heroes, from Sistani to Sadr, are the organizing force in Iraq. Instead of attempting to abort the Iraqi political climate by demanding special rights to the Baathist/Qaedist thugs that have destroyed Iraq, we should reward and salute those Iraqis who prevent a Sunni Baathist/Qaedist resurgence. They are gun smoking. They are righteous. And they should be allowed to protect themselves, their homes, and their lands.

A total victory in Iraq — where Iraq becomes “an engine for regional economic growth — will have to rely on the “Reverse Domino Effect.” It will be done through trade, not war. Economic growth first requires security, and that means letting the loyalty militias do their job. That means killing the Baathists and the Qaedists. And that means not confusing friends, who want to kill bad guys, and enemies, who want to kill you.

Anti-Arab Violence

Major Fighting in Ramadi, Mosul, Kut: Son of Sistani Aide Killed, al-Khafaji Targeted,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent,

Al-Abbudi: Sistani Endorses the United Iraqi Alliance,” by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/al-abbudi-sistani-endorses-united.html, 17 January 2005.

Archbishop abducted in Iraq,” BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4182629.stm, 17 January 2005.

The actions of our enemies over the last few weeks have been brutal, calculating, and instructive

They killed the son of an aid to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

Ali al-Khatib, son of Sheikh Habib al-Khatib (the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in Wasit) was shot down in an internet cafe in Naaman on Sunday. His father had survived an assassination attempt two months ago.

They attacked an associate of Muqtada al-Sadr

Al-Zaman reports that the nephew of Ayatollah Hussein al-Sadr of Kadhimayn was wounded and one of his chiefs of security–Jasim Muhammad al-Saadi– was killed on Saturday. Ayatollah Hussein al-Sadr is the uncle of Muqtada al-Sadr but is pro-American and relatively liberal, unlike the populist, radical Muqtada. Hussein al-Sadr is supporting the list of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, and his bodyguards and nephew were out putting up posters for his “Iraqiyyah” slate (Allawi’s party was the Iraqi National Accord, but not all the Iraqiyyah candidates are INA). Then they were attacked.

They abducted a Syrian Catholic Archbishop

A Catholic archbishop in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has been kidnapped by insurgents, the Vatican says.

Archbishop Basile Georges Casmoussa, 66, was abducted from outside his church in the east of the city.

Our enemies of not honorable. They are neither soldiers nor warriors. The Salafists-Ba’athists are using the clan structures of the Sunni Arab minority to fight a tribal war. The civil war in Iraq is a terrorist tribal war.

Why have we disarmed ourselves?

They attack male relatives of Iraqi leaders. They abduct peaceful religious leaders. Why do we not respond in kind? Why do we not immediately arrest for the duration of the tribal unrest all male relatives of every known or suspected Sunni Arab insurgent? Why do we allow friendly religious leaders to be kidnapped, but suffer enemy mosques to exist? Why not give every Sunni mosque seized to Shia leaders, for them to oversee as they wish?

Anti-Muslim Violence

Sistani’s representative killed southeast of Baghdad,” China View, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2005-01/13/content_2456774.htm, 13 January 2005.

More anti-Shia terrorism by the anti-Iraqi insurgents

BAGHDAD, Jan. 13 (Xinhuanet) — An aide to Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most revered Shiite cleric, was assassinated along with his son and four bodyguards on Wednesday night southeast of Baghdad, sources said Thursday.

Sheikh Mahmud al-Madahaini, his son and four bodyguards were shot dead by unidentified gunmen as they were returning home from a mosque in Salman Pak after performing the evening prayers, the sources said.

Madahaini is Sistani’s representative in Salman Pak, an ancient town 20 km southeast of Baghdad.

Another aide of Sistani, a cleric working in Sistani’s office in Najaf, was also found dead on Wednesday. The name of the victim was not immediately known.

The killings were apparently a fresh warning unleashed by insurgents to Sistani, who has been calling for restraint among the Shiite Muslims in an effort to turn their weight into a political one through the nation-wide elections.

The Ba’athi-Salafists do not want democracy. They know that they are an increasingly hated minority. The Ba’athis have terrorized the Iraqis for decades, and the Salafists have just gotten started.

A Genius Speaks

The Third Baath Coup?”, by Juan Cole, Informed Consent, http://www.juancole.com/2005/01/third-baath-coup-if-as-i-have-argued.html, 13 January 2004.

Neo-Baathism in Iraq,” by “mark,” Zen Pundit, http://zenpundit.blogspot.com/2005/01/neo-baathism-in-iraq-juan-cole-had.html, 13 January 2004.

Zen Pundit is a genius. The first time I went to his site, I scrolled through and chalked him off as a Tom Barnett knock-off. No more. He read the same article I did and came up with a much, much deeper understanding of the situation. Making it doubly embarrasing is that I agree with his assessment. So why didn’t I think of it?

First, Juan Cole’s analysis (with emphasis for what I thought was important)

If, as I have argued, the Baathists along with some Salafi (Sunni fundamentalist) allies are behind the guerrilla war, what do they want? They want to drive the Americans out of Iraq and make a third Baath coup, putting the Shiite genie back in its bottle and restoring Sunni Arab primacy.

A third Baath coup is no more inherently implausible than the first two. The Baathists probably have access to some 250,000 tons of munitions which are still missing. They know how to use them, and have been the managerial class, and many are Iran-Iraq War and Gulf War veterans with substantial military experience.

And this is my problem with the idea of just having the US suddenly withdraw its military from Iraq. What is to stop the neo-Baath from just killing Grand Ayatollah Sistani, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, Ibrahim Jaafari, Iyad Allawi (who is rumored not to sleep in the same bed twice), etc., all the members of the provincial councils and the new parliament, and then making a military coup that brings the party and its Sunni patronage networks back to power?

I think this coup would look more like the failed 1963 effort than like 1968, and has the potential to roil the country and the region for decades. The tanks and helicopter gunships and chemical weapons that the Sunni Arab minority regime used to put down the other groups are gone, and it is not clear that car bombs, Kalashnikovs and sniping could substitute for them. They can probably take the Green Zone and the television stations if the US abruptly withdraws, but could they really put down the South effectively again?

And now… the genius

A Neo-Baathist Iraq – which really means an Iraqi version of Sierra Leone or Somalia is not in American interests. Or in the interests of any of Iraq’s neighbors except perhaps Syria who would gain influence in the Sunni heartland.

Cole has correctly identified, in my view, some key truths about the situation in Iraq. That most our enemies there are driven by the idea of Sunni-Baathist resurgence. That they recruit along lines of family-clan-tribe clientage networks. That the brain of the insurgency are the surviving elements of Saddam’s SSO, Mukhabarat, MI, Special Republican Guard and Fedayeen who are following the old Soviet unconventional warfare doctrine of Spetsnaz forces ( hardly unexpected since Baathist Iraq had a Soviet model military establishment grafted on to a ME society with a decades long relationship with the USSR and Russia ). Soviet Spetsnaz doctrine called for “ Deep Operations”:

Soviet Spetsnz unit personnel however, like the Zarqawri Jihadis, were atomized individuals. The neo-Baathist Iraqi insurgents are not, as Cole pointed out with his reference to clientage networks. You catch and identify one individual chances are extremely high that other adult males linked to the captive by family and marriage ties are also involved. This is the insurgencies Achilles heel. This is also why aggressive Counterinsurgency tactics will put a dent in the insurgency, the culprits are naturally more identifiable unlike with Marxist guerilla movements.

The political bullet to bite is that we have to accept that a fairly significant portion of Iraqi Sunnis are really ” the enemy” now in the same sense that the Germans and Japanese were during WWII and act accordingly. Some of this is our fault for mishandling the occupation but mostly its a vicious group of political gangsters determined to shoot their way back to power and dominance over the Kurds and Shiites. Let’s stop sugarcoating things and face reality – the Sunnis by and large want a new dictatorship that will secure their priviliges once again.

Any prospects for broad-based democracyin Iraq will fail- or even maintaining Iraq’s territorial integrity – unless we can isolate the more politically backward Sunni dominated areas from the rest of Iraq and put the insurgency on the defensive.

Sistani and the Kurds need to face that fact as well.

I agree.