There is an interesting turn of events in Iraq. Prime Minister al-Maliki has asked the militias in Iraq to stop fighting. This has deep implications that go beyond folks simply scratching their heads asking themselves “Why didn’t he just ask for that all this time and avoid fighting in the first place?”

Muqtada al-Sadr froze his militia the other day, which was a shocking move for most of the world that watches this sort of thing closely. Why would he do that? Certainly he doesn’t have a serious moral problem with the violent incident that he claims is the reason for his halting of his little army.

Shocking, yes, but not a bad idea for the enemy. This, actually, is probably their most dangerous course of action. Consider that the US really does want to leave Iraq and see the region prosper. Consider that the Iranians want to control Iraq and take the place over. Consider that Iran has a pro-Iran, minority Shiite in power in Iraq already and does not want to upset that condition. Consider that the Democrats will likely come to power in the US soon, and that means a heightened push for withdraw from Iraq which cannot practically take place unless things actually do get calmer (regardless of how radical the Democrat campaign speeches sound, they absolutely cannot pull out of Iraq with no effective transition in place, as they blood of the millions who would be massacred would be on their hands, and that’s just wrong, even in the mind of a power-hungry, soulless person like Edwards, Hillary or even me).

All that being accepted above, the quickest way to get the US out of Iraq and clear the way for a Sunni massacre and underground war of Iranian expansion is to suddenly achieve security in Iraq. Do everything the US wants, and life will instantly improve for everyone, Iran and their Shiite proxies included. Once the US is largely gone, there is no way they will want to come back, at least not without another direct attack on the US happening. This would leave Iraq open to be Iran’s playground, particularly if they still can keep a false Shiite majority in power, which would serve to marginalize the Sunnis more, likely pushing more of them to feel resignation and political boycott are the answer… which leads naturally to a situation where Shiites can “legitimately” pass new laws and edicts which either reform a dictatorship as before, or turn over large aspects of sovereignty to the Iranians.

So… best tactical play on this day for the Iranian/Shiite side to get positioned to win overall strategy? Pretend to lose. Lay low. The US would love that. Let the US think they win. They will go home. The Sunnis will know better and boycott the government, or maybe embrace it like fools. Either way, with the US gone, there’s no shepherd and all those sheep waiting to get eaten.

Next counter to this is to bring Saudi Arabia and a perhaps newly fearful Jordan and (strangely) Syria into the picture. Sure, they don’t want to see Iran be that strong so fast. They would support the Sunnis, naturally, and there’s no telling what will come of the Kurdish faction. They have a way of pulling some major influential regional move out of their asses every so often. At any rate, the Saudis are too soft and far too detached to understand that support of the level needed to counter Iran goes far beyond simple money. Syria doesn’t have the balls to commit, and Jordan is simply not strong enough to counter Iran. In the end, Iran wins, and likely the wisdom of the day will be to close up insurgent shop as soon as its obvious the Sunnis are losing and go along with Iran’s plans. Besides, the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians and Syrians will tell themselves that at least Iran will take most of the heat when Europe gets smacked really hard next anyway.

Of course, the most dangerous course of enemy action is to not attack right now. That means they have to at least agree to disagree for a time and settle down a bit… That is nearly impossible for them to do, as evidenced by the last several hundred years of recorded history. Even Muqtada is considering revoking the freeze he started himself. That would throw the whole Iranian plan of getting the US to leave early off track.

Reminds me of the Palestinians under Arafat… “They never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Of course, that is assuming that they actually want the things they say they want, “peace” in this case… which is not what they want, so it all falls in place naturally, if you simply shift your point of view.

Long-winded note:
For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, al-Maliki was the winner of an arbitrarily early (read as: media-politico inertia forced timing) election in Iraq. The Sunni and Shiites didn’t agree on much, and a “former” terrorist wound up getting elected with the support of Iran. Iran supports this guy, and he supports Iran. He wants a Shiite Iraq, not a Sunni Iraq.

To illustrate the problem most Iraqis feel with this guy let me explain: The Iraqi special operations brigades my friends trained and fought with all this time are largely Sunni, as its the majority of the population that makes sense. Since coming to office, al-Maliki has taken the executive privilege of redefining the selection criteria for these brigades to only include people he feels are “politically reliable”. This has had the effect of all the new inductees being Shiite, pro-Iran, loyal to al-Maliki personally, and not able to integrate with the veteran crowd who are generally pro-Iraq, very patriotic and volunteer to fight only because they believe in what we might achieve in Iraq. Since the changeover, these guys can’t take leave and go home. If they take leave, they get picked up on the way home by al-Maliki’s surrogate groups and disappear. Everyone knows that.

Conclusion is that al-Maliki is a bad guy and does not have happy designs for the majority of Iraq which is why all the Sunni groups have been on-and-off boycotting the government.

Something that really surprised me was that almost every person I talked to seem to have a lot of respect for the original American-appointed group of leaders. Some have fallen by the wayside, some have shifted posts, but none are the Prime Minister or President anymore, and that makes folks feel threatened. The feeling on the street is that the elections came too early and were more of a media stunt than a solid attempt to achieve consensus within Iraq.

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