June 15, 2005

Divide & Conquer

As terrorist attacks by the insurgency are estimated to be peaking, The Iraqi government seems to be using diplomacy in an effort to drive a wedge between native Iraqi insurgents and their foreign al Qaeda allies:
BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S. and Iraqi officials are considering difficult-to-swallow ideas — including amnesties for their enemies — as they look for ways to end the country's rampant insurgency and isolate extremists wanting to start a civil war.

Negotiations have just begun between U.S. and Iraqi officials on drafting an amnesty policy, which would reach out to Iraqi militants fighting U.S. forces, say officials in both the Iraqi and American governments.

But foreign extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, responsible for Iraq's bloodiest attacks, would not be offered any amnesty, the Iraqi and U.S. authorities told The Associated Press in recent days.

The amnesty proposal is seen as a key weapon to split the insurgency between Iraqi and non-Iraqi lines and further alienate foreign fighters like al-Zarqawi.

So what does this really mean?

Negotiated solutions via internal politics were always the preferred option in deciding the future of Iraq from the coalition's standpoint, but Sunnis did not want to cede the power and control they wielded under Saddam's regime. Fighting against this loss of power is the basis for the Sunni-led insurgency. The domestic element of the insurgency was their way of trying to leverage a better position for themselves than they thought they would have in a post-Saddam Iraq.

In contrast, Iraqi Kurds and Shiites were aware early on that their best prospects for the future are tied to the success of the fledgling Iraqi national government.
Insurgent attacks by primarily Sunni insurgents just went to reinforce this belief.

As it became increasingly apparent that the fledgling Iraqi government would not bow down to the insurgency and elections were successfully held, it buoyed faith among most of the people that they could build a better future for Iraq. The upswing in insurgent violence around the elections and since has not seemed to dissuade the Iraqi people's attempt for democracy; instead it seems to have tempered it.

The insurgency, sensing that they are losing the support of the Iraqi people, has attempted to bomb the civilians into compliance with their wishes. But every new insurgent attack against civilians seems to have had the opposite effect; instead of being intimidated, the Iraqi people are becoming increasingly fed up with the insurgency.

And the insurgency is indeed having problems.

The insurgency was never a monolith, with Sunni Iraqi insurgents fighting for power within a new Iraq having completely different goals than the foreign fighters of al Qaeda intent on killing infidels (Iraqi and foreign) for their brand of radical Islam.

While the growing dissatisfaction with the insurgency matters little to the foreign jihadists (other than making things more difficult), the pressure is beginning to wear on Sunni insurgents that see their guerilla military efforts accomplishing very few, if any of their goals. A political option is increasingly in their best interests, as continued attacks only erode both their manpower and political position.

It is into this gap between al Qaeda's foreign fighters and the Sunni insurgency that the Iraqi government intends to drive a wedge. By offering amnesty for Sunni insurgents who lay down their arms, the Iraqi government is giving them a chance to join the political process instead of fighting against it.

The much talked about tipping point will occur when Sunni leaders in the insurgency realize that it is in their best interests to fight for their people in the political arena instead of the streets of Iraq. Once the Sunni insurgency is dissolved, an isolated al Qaeda insurgency cannot long stand. Insurgencies only succeed when they have the support of the people, and without assistance from Sunnis, al-Zarqawi and al Qaeda in Iraq will be living on borrowed time.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at June 15, 2005 12:00 AM | TrackBack