US secret services expect further deterioration in the Tigris- and Euphrates land. The roots of the problem are Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, not the occupiers
By Rainer Rupp
[This article published in: Junge Welt 2/6/2007 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.jungewelt.de/2007/02-06/062.php?print=1.]
The secret services of the US warn of a catastrophic development in occupied Iraq. This is revealed in a common assessment of the situation of the 16 US-services, the so-called National Intelligence Estimate (NIE). The White House delayed its publication for months. The 90-page report with a nine-page summary is classified as secret. The summary was published over the weekend.
The new secret service report presents a far more depressing picture than the George W. Bush administration was ready to admit in the past. The report contradicts assertions of the White House that Iran and Syria are playing an important role in Iraq. According to Bush’s version, Teheran and Damascus foment the sectarian violence in the occupied Tigris- and Euphrates land and instigate attacks against US troops. According to Washington’s secret service, “actors from the outside do not decisively influence the violence and the prospects for stability.” The root of the problem lies in the incompatibility of the Iraqis themselves, especially the disposition of the Shiite government in Baghdad that “the winner takes all.” The sectarian hostilities “infected the political system like a virus.”
The majority of Iraq Shiites distrust the US. This is clearer in the “National Intelligence Estimate” than in any other assessment. That distrust is the reason they refuse to yield to American pressure for a balance with the Sunnis in a series of problems. The secret service report criticizes the Sunnis for:”not accepting their minority status” in Iraq. For them, the Shiite-controlled central government is “illegitimate and incompetent.” The Kurds are preparing to take over the oil-rich region around Kirkuk after the referendum in December 2007…
For the White House, the term “civil war” in describing the situation in occupied Iraq is a definitive admission of failure. The secret service report was not deterred by the taboo word of the Bush administration. On one side, the term civil war “does not adequately describe the complexity of the conflict between the different fighting groups” and the “widespread violence with criminal motives.” On the other side, “civil war” is the “correct term” for the hardening and confrontation between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. In the meantime, whole population groups could be expelled. Unlike the constant protestations of president Bush, the Al-Qaida terror network only plays a marginal role according to the opinion of the secret service representatives.
Amid deep insecurity, only a glimmer of hope is found in the NIE report. The high level of daily violence could be lowered if the Iraqi government of Nuri Al Maliki accepted political reconciliation with the Sunnis and the security forces acted against extremists of every shade and color. However this requires units of the police and army infiltrated by Shiite militias fight against their closest allies, particularly against the Mehdi-militia of the US occupation foe Mullah Muqtade Al Sadr. All in all, the NIE-authors see no prospect for an improvement of the situation in Iraq for the next 18 months. Rather they expect a further deterioration.
Democrats and some republicans cited the sobering assessment of the situation by the US secret service in Congress as evidence that Bush’s Iraq policy has collapsed and his escalation strategy is misguided. In contrast, Bush’s security advisor Stephen Hadley argues escalation is necessary because the situation is so bad. In a bizarre way, the Bush administration is strengthened by the NIE-assessment in its position that the US cannot withdraw from occupied Iraq. A withdrawal, US Defense secretary Robert Gates declared over the weekend, would have very serious consequences for the US and the region. In fact, it says in the secret service paper, a US troop withdrawal would draw Iraq’s neighbors into the conflict.