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    17 January 2006

    The Iraq pressure is working

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    The combination of grassroots pressure to end the war on Iraq, a few Dems with balls, even fewer Repubs with balls, and the fear the Repubs have about going into '06 with the stench of failed foreign policy on their hands has made an impact, finally.

    It has rumored and then reported that the US may be courting targets involved with the legitimate wing of the Iraqi insurgency and, perhaps more publicly, the Sunni political establishment to balance the power gained by the Shiite (and Iran).

    In addition, it is reported that the VP, Richard Cheney, will meet with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and other local (Mideast) Arab leaders. In this meeting, Cheney may request aid from Egypt in dealing with Iraq after the US withdrawal (reported in Al-Zaman, in Arabic). This would be a welcome alternative to the mess the presence of US troops has on the fledgling state. It remains to be seen how; the current and supposedly sovereign Iraqi government takes this (Egypt is largely Sunni), and how the Egyptians would carry out business. (for more check-out this post by Dr. Cole.)

    I believe this is an excellent counter to Iranian influence. Whether or not this war was necessary (ah-hem), we should try to get out of there having made some progress; regardless of the stupidity involved.

    Just to highlight where we are in Iraq, and to counter the pretty-talk we hear constantly from Republicans and their help, Walter Pincus digs up a report from USAID on the real Iraq. It, as we know, isn't going well
    The USAID program, outlined in a Jan. 2 paper, envisions development between 2006 and 2008 of partnerships in cities that make up more than half of Iraq's population. Those cities would include Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk and Najaf. The project, which to date has only $30 million [Geoff: of the $1.32 billion promised] of the proposed funds, will try to reduce violence by creating jobs, revitalizing community infrastructure, and mitigating ethnic and religious conflicts.

    To prepare potential bidders for the task, USAID included an annex with the contractor application. It describes Iraq as being in the midst of an insurgency whose tactics "include creating chaos in Iraq society as a whole and fomenting civil war." Many of the attacks are against coalition and Iraqi security forces, the annex says, and they "significantly damage the country's infrastructure and cause a tide of adverse economic and social effects that ripple across Iraq."

    Although President Bush and senior administration officials tend to see the enemy primarily as Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign terrorists, the USAID analysis also places emphasis on "internecine conflict," which includes "religious-sectarian, ethnic, tribal, criminal and politically based" violence.

    Posted by Geoff

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