Sunday, June 24, 2007

FOX News: Former insurgents helping U.S.

BAGHDAD — Two months ago, a dozen Sunni insurgents — haggard, hungry and in handcuffs — stepped tentatively into a U.S.-Iraqi combat outpost near Baqouba and asked to speak to the commander: "We're out of ammunition, but we want to help you fight Al Qaeda."

Now hundreds of fighters from the 1920s Revolution Brigades, an erstwhile Sunni insurgent group, work as scouts and gather intelligence for the 10,000-strong American force in the fifth day of its mission to remove Al Qaeda gunmen and bomb makers from the Diyala provincial capital.

Little so well illustrates the Middle Eastern dictum: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."

And as it struggles in the raging heat and violence of central Iraq, the U.S. military appears to have bought into the tactic in its struggle to pull what victory it can from the increasingly troubled American mission in Iraq, under congressional pressure for a troop pullout and a presidential election campaign already in the minds of voters.

Because that's what it's all about, right? Anyway....

The American decision to bring insurgents into the mission has angered Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who told visiting Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week that the tactic — getting too cozy with former enemies — would backfire.

But U.S. officials defend the strategy, first tested in Iraq's once-volatile western Anbar province, where U.S. officials tout success in turning Sunni tribal leaders against Al Qaeda.

"We've given them a little ammo, some flares, but mostly humanitarian aid. We're not arming these guys, we're just changing the direction they're pointing their guns in," said Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the U.S. ground forces commander, who made a one-day visit to the Baqouba battlefield this week.,2933,286408,00.html

One might think that we would be a little skeptical about bringing guys who were shooting at us a few months ago onto our team, but things really have gotten that dire out here. Our leadership is doubtless growing desperate to find something that might help end this conflict, even if it means accepting help from our enemies.

Also, this should outline for those who don't understand that this is a multi-faction conflict, with many different sides pursuing many different ambitions. Clearly, the Sunni insurgents are interested in rooting out Al Qaeda so they can duke it out with the Shi'ites in earnest. And, you know, if they play nice with us re: Al Qaeda, maybe we'll help them out against their Shi'ite enemies. And, you know, maybe if we do that then the eventual ruling Sunni minority (or perhaps majority if we spill enough Shi'ite blood) will let us stick around and keep our hands in the petroleum cookie jar and strategically dominate the region the way the neo-cons have always wanted? I suppose one can dream; it's all the Bush administration has done since the beginning of this conflict.

But I'll give FOX News credit for even running this story, albeit with a positive spin.

No comments: