March 08, 2006

Slow Blogging

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been a bit sick and out it. I am now rejoining the world and will be back directly...

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 8, 2006 08:36 AM

Get well soon!

In the meantime I'll report on a talk I attended last night by Salem Chalabi, nephew of Ahmed Chalabi, and a man who has been a key figure in trying to get a new Iraq off the ground. He had a little something for everyone. He did not seem in particulary high spirits - he agrees that there is a low grade civil war going on right now which could get worse. He told us a few interesting things that I haven't seen in the MSM:
1. Iraqi government documents clearly show that Saddam had planned for a post occupation insurgency well in advance and had stashed weapons and key people with orders to get an insurgency going. This was always Saddam's plan, he knew he had no chance in a regular war. When the US invaded Afghanistan Saddam knew he was next and began recruiting the Al Qaeda and other Arab jihadists who were fleeing the wreckage of the Taliban state. Chalabi also agrees that Bremer's move to disband the army so quickly was a big mistake, allowing the Baathists to recruit armed and trained men from the huge pool of unemployed soldiers. At the same time, Chalabi doesn't believe the current fighting has much to do with Saddam, many Sunnis really believe they have no option and simply refuse to live in a Shia dominated state. There is no question that they are getting significant material and financial support from other Arab countries who are a) determined to see Democracy fail and b) just as important, but rarely mentioned in the US press, determined that Baghdad, a cultural center of Arab life since the 8th century, not fall into Shia hands. This is viewed as disgraceful. Most of the money, according to Chalabi, is coming from Saudi Arabia, funneled through Syria.

There is no question that the Shia political parties are heavily dominated by Iran and Iranian agents. There have also been scary indicators of future trouble, apparently Shia groups in Basra have been trying to plan an ethnic cleansing of the 300,000 Sunnis who still live there. Despite these very large problems, Chalabi does not think hope is lost. He said the US ambassador has done an excellent job so far at keeping the situation from boiling over. The solution is a loose federal state - if the Shia and Sunni have their own homelands within Iraq than compromise is more likely. One issue he was clear on is that US troops should not withdraw - if they do the real civil war will begin the next day.
Someone also asked Chalabi his opinion of reporting and the press. All the MSM haters here will be disappointed to learn that he thinks the Washington Post and Christian Monitor have done a very good job, and the NYT got a C to B-. He said Robert Fisk was by far the worst, no surprise there. And he cited Talisman Gate as a very good blog on Iraq if you want good info from an Iraqi. I don't see it on MJT's blog roll, suggest you check it out.

Posted by: Vanya at March 9, 2006 07:34 AM

Posted by: cbnjdfgh at June 24, 2007 06:26 AM
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