Tolstoy, Elliott and Iraq

Debka reports on the Iraqi situation

A. Baathist guerrillas have instructed cell leaders to continue their insurrection but hold back from a death blow against the new government – which is why their planned mega-operation did not materialize on sovereignty day. Guerrilla leaders have come to accept that toppling the government could lead to the exit of US forces from the country and create a vacuum that would invite its oldest enemy, Iran, to step into the breach.

B. The same insurgent underground while keeping up its attacks on Iraqi and US targets is keeping a weather eye open for chances to forge local truces on the lines of the Fallujah ceasefire that ended the month-long US Marine siege by handing security over to former Baathist generals.

C. The insurgents would exploit such local truces to seize one Iraqi town after another, pushing the Americans aside and restoring Baathist dominance to most urban areas of Iraq. Government and American forces would keep control only of intercity regions and connecting routes. This carve-up would suit the insurgent movements because they do not have enough manpower to take over every inch of the country.

D. The Baath leadership is making a point of stressing to its fighting elements that the Allawi government in Baghdad is the target of a political, but certainly not a religious, war. This guideline makes it clear that the Baathists do not share the war objectives of al Qaeda and the foreign Arab fighters fighting alongside them.

E. The Baath have called off guerilla attacks in the Shiite regions of Iraq including Baghdad’s Sadr City hoping to bring back the Shiite Baath cadres who deserted after Saddam Hussein’s downfall.

What’s intriguing to me is how little this has to do with US goals or pre-war US expectations for post-war Iraq. And how is the situation significantly different than if American forces had toppled Hussein and then left? It’s clear that US troops are increasingly starting to be seen as irrelevant, as the Baathist/Jihadist coalition appears to be splitting apart preparatory to the coming four-way fight over the spoils. Five, actually, if one counts the Kurdish irredentists.

It’s interesting, too, to see how the equations have changed. Having been hurled out of power by American troops, the Baathists now fear them leaving too soon, before they can adequately prepare an alliance strong enough to fend off Iran. Oh, I’d love to see the look on the various neocons’ faces as they begin to realize the folly of their arrogance in attempting to not only control, but dictate events of this magnitude. A huge boulder thrown into a stream will make a big splash and may even redirect the stream’s course, but it will not stop the water, which in time will simply flow over, around and through the obstacle.

If we accept Tolstoy’s view for the nonce, then the USA appears to have simply been the tool required by history’s ineffable forces to smash the dam of Hussein’s power. Having done so, it is no longer needed and will be returned to its toolbox as the situation sorts itself out. I reached the somewhat the same conclusion as Debka – the most likely outcome is an alliance between Allawi and the Baathists focused against the non-Iraqi jihadists, who would then be expected to either align themselves with Iran in an attempt to take power in Iraq, or, as is more likely, focus their attentions on the richer and easier target that is Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has no US troops, no Baathist-Allawi alliance and is extremely disliked by the jihadists for the same reason that the heretic is more despised than the pagan. Furthermore, it fits with the Law of Unintended Consequences which states that for every major government action, there is an unforseen and disastrous reaction. If the third of a third is just getting rolling, we haven’t even begun to see anything yet.