(WARNING, THIS POST IS SO FAR UNEDITED)
So I heard on the news today that US President Bush is finally going to announce his plan to send an additional 20,000 US troops to Iraq. The news report said the troops were going to Baghdad with the mission of confronting the Shiite militia's and Sunni insurgency to quell the violent sectarian war which has been plaguing Baghdad of late.
A later report on the news said the new Iraqi Government had also decided to increase troop levels in Baghdad to match the US surge- this article suggested a door-to-door search would be conducted by joint US-Iraqi forces. The aim is to root out the militias and insurgency in hope of stabilizing Baghdad before a gradual US withdrawal. There have been rumours that democrats in the new congress would not provide funds for these troops- yet the most senior democrats insist they will not cut off funding for US troops in Iraq.
Assuming this all goes ahead and the Iraqi army can equal the US troop deployment (unlikely, they will probably match atleast half however). One can assume that atleast 25% of these forces will not be present in Baghdad, maybe they'll go to Anbar as suggested- I don't know. I'm concerned with the forces that WILL be in Baghdad however, so lets assume say, 14,000 more US troops are deployed to Baghdad and the Iraqi government supplements the dedployment with an extra 7,000 Iraqi forces- for a total of 21,000 new troops in Baghdad. The likelyhood is that most of these will be former Kurdish Peshmerga since they are the countries best supplied, most efficient troops- and probably the only ones that aren't already bogged down dealing with sectarian warfare in their own towns.
Some Iraqi's would suggest that Kurdish Peshmerga would not travel from Kurdistan to help out in Baghdad- why would they, they have their autonomous zone and their freedom, wouldn't they want to keep their troops at home to protect it? Well there is good reasoning behind why sending forces to Baghdad is in the best interest of Iraqi Kurds. For one thing any increase in Islamic extremism in Baghdad and across the rest of Iraq is a threat to the Kurds. A US failure in Iraq- having to pull out of Baghdad & subsequently out of Iraq without at least squelching the violent sectarian warfare in Baghdad- would leave the Kurdish Autonomous zone open to pressure and raids by its hostile neighbours- Iran, Turkey, Syria and Saudi Arabia (though the latter two are much less active in preventing Kurdish independance). IF the US pull out, the hopes for Iraq's Kurdish population ever had of true independence from Iraq will take a great step backwards.
An independant Kurdistan cannot survive in this hostile environment- it would face a similar situation to that of Israel- hostility surrounding them in a complete 360 degree circle. Kurdistan needs to remain under the wing of the USA and as such they need to prove to the USA they are willing to do what it takes to remain so- if sending some Peshmerga to Baghdad is what it takes, they will.
Anyway, going back to Baghdad. I can't give an accurate guess the number of insurgents and militiamen- god knows there's plenty of them, but I don't really think their numbers matter much in this equation. The results are the same anyway- there are only two realistic outcomes to this deployment, and which prevails will be determined by the sheer level of will and dedication to the operation by the Iraqi forces//government and which ever Iraqis are brave enough, or dumb enough, to stand with them. There is of course the option of success.
I am not a military strategist so I do not know what is the best way to go about it but all I know is that the Mehdi army and it's followers need to be confronted, uprooted and defeated if Baghdad ever wants peace again. But I say this in context- there is no doubt that very same must apply to the Sunni "insurgents" in Haifa street (and others like them) who are the opposing source of sectarian violence. Both of these groups are known for their cowardly tactics and their connections within the new Iraqi security forces; both groups are known for targetting innocent civilians in tit-for-tat assasinations and bombings. Someone amongst these groups is no doubt responsible for the bullet ridden, tortured and decapitated bodies appearing in the garbage cans of average civilians across Baghdad; and probably for the bodies regularly found floating around the river.
This is not your average side-vs-side conflict, these two opposing forces are targetting any member of the opposing sect wether they are secular, highly religious, less religious, succesfull or poor- as long as their religious background holds an inclination of being "enemy" they are a target. In fact in this war you don't need to have any special pre-conditions to be murdered; you could be just walking in the wrong place at the wrong time become a victim to these extremists. This is why they must be confronted, this is also why a surge in US forces will not necessarily mean a surge in violence. Yes these new troops will be a target. Yes this will mean higher casualties for the US and their Iraqi military counterparts. If the campaigns gets off the ground and manages to threaten the militia's strongholds, the average Iraqi citizen will no longer be the main target. This will bring the power-struggle between the militia's, the insurgents and the Coalition forces to a heed.
I do believe however, that if one side falls then so too will the other- unless that side is the coalition. The excuse of "resisting occupation" has long warn thin for the Sunni insurgency and it's IED's, car bombings and such, so their reason for existing now is more as a counter-measure to Shia militia's than as anything else. The Shia militia however are another story. Jeish al-Mehdi and it's followers, commonly known as being al-Sadr's forces- do not necessarily have the full support of the Iraqi Government and it's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, though their influence is strong and they have so-far been able to pull at Maliki's strings- their influence on him is no stronger than that of the US. Should Maliki truely decide it is time to squelch the Mehdi Army, he may be able to find a new, more powerful replacement to ensure his government's survival- the Badr Corps. Badr Corps is the armed wing of the most popular Iraqi Shia political party, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. They have yet to flex their muscles in Iraq- though they did once give al-Sadr's Mehdi Army a strong warning when the two groups came into conflict before the formation of the United Iraqi Alliance through which the two groups obtained joint control of the new Iraqi parliament.
Clever mediation and planning between the US and Iraqi army, combined with covert useage of Badr Corps as an intelligence and intimidation network could work to subdue the Mehdi army quite well, the problem is how to do this without causing alarm amongst the Sunni insurgency. I guess this is where the idea that if one falls they both fall falters; what if the side that falls is replaced by a more efficient, more structured group from the same sect? Would this mean the other side would fall? For some reason I can't see any Sunni extremists looking at a government which employs the likes of Badr Corps to deal with troubles in anyway but with deep-seated contempt. This is where politics comes into things.
Some kind of reshuffle of the government would be in order- some kind of extremely generous concession would need to be made to the Sunni politicians many of whose powerbase comes from the insurgency; which many Iraqi's, Shia & Sunni, would not like too much. It would mean more blood-stained hands in power. Still none of this would be possible unless violence was subdued to a level where Iraqi's could actually begin to think about a peacefull future for the first time since the looting and destruction began in 2003; and I for one think if this happens then Iraqi's will be willing to accept some blood-stained hands in power, at least until the next election is called- which will definately come soon after any major shift in the balance of power; no matter which way the pendulum swings, so to speak.
The other option for the US is failure; and yes this IS an option for the US. The reason this is an option is because they now have a way out; the voting population has time to punish George Bush and vote in a new democratic government. Should the democrats allow this deployment and the deployment to fail at its task of confronting the militia and quelling violence in the first few months of it's assignation; the new Democratic Congress would surely not vote to continue funding George W Bush's unsuccessfull venture in iraq. The Democrats would then argue that Bush had failed and they were only acting as the US public had empowered them to do so; as a watch-dog to the Bush administration, one which did not hesitate to pull the troops out should the circumstance require it. On this principle they would win the administrative election and take complete control of the House, Senate and Administration for the first time since I became interested in politics.
Where would this leave Iraq no one knows. In a stalemate which would leave two major Shia militia' fighting for dominance over the one population (shia); of which one has strong support, funding and training from Iraq and the other has large numbers and brutal tactics. The two groups would simultaneously be attempting to prevent any resurgence in power amongst the Sunni insurgency and as such probably continue and expand the campaign of sectarian assasinations and violence which already plagues Baghdad today. The Sunni in turn would not accept domination by Shia extremists; they are hardened, trained, priveleged and deep-seated Iraqi's of great power and their tactics are brutally effective- squelching them will be near on impossible short of a total genocide of Iraq's Sunni population; and should that occur is when the international community and Iraq's neighbours would be forced to finally step in and attempt to fix what America fucked up. (As if we shouldn't have done it already).
How long this could take no-one knows, but what we do know is that there are also the Kurds to take into consideration and they have the Sunni as close neighbours; which makes the two either deadly enemies or valuable allies- and I think the Kurds might need all the allies they can gather, should the US pull-out of Iraq all together. Who knows, maybe they will pull back to Kurdistan. Maybe the Kurdish population will thrive regardless and obtain the support of Iraq's Sunni in return for protection from sectarian genocide, but I do not know.
One thing I can tell you for sure is this: the Kurdish North can only maintain its autonomy so long as its borders are not broken. If Turkish or Irani forces threatened the border, Kurdistan as a potentially thriving economy would falter; a border war with the Turkish or Persian military is not something the Kurdish Peshmerga can really sustain without it impacting upon the peace within their own borders; and they definately can't sustain it if they're fighting a Sunni-insurgency from Mosul & Kirkuk. All that said and done, maybe if the US fail in Baghdad they will only pull back to Kurdistan, where they can truely operate in peace and safety- in a place formerly oppressed and destroyed by Saddam, where they can help to provide basic facilities such as electricity, water, school, hosptial and university services.
Regardless of what the Kurds do, Baghdad is where the fate of Iraqi's lay right now. The outcome of a confrontation designed to squash the militia's holds the fate of all sects in it's hands. Lets all pray together that this confrontation actually comes forth and is not just an unwilling attempt to appease the Americans like many other great "strategies" this new government has hailed for Baghdad. If it is not so now, then I guess Iraq truely must wait until the day my connections and influence reach far enough to truely be able to bring real help and real solutions to Iraq. Either way it's coming, one day Iraq is going to be a better place, for as long as I remain alive I will hold the strongest of convictions to make it so.