EYE My militia is more untouchable than
yours By Pepe Escobar
In a make-believe world where the green,
green grass of the "surge" is alive with the sound
of music, the George W Bush administration and US
counterinsurgency ace General David Petraeus - not
to mention presidential candidate Senator John
McCain - keep assuring American public opinion the
"surge" (now reconverted into a "pause") is
But back in real life, an Iraq
transfixed by no less than 28 militias is burning
- again - all over, even in "invisible" (at least
for Western media) places. Couple that with the
relentless Bush administration narrative of
"blame, blame Iran" and we have American public
opinion strangled by a formidable disinformation
Washington keeps spinning the
success of a "war on terror" narrative in northern
Iraq against "al-Qaeda". This is false. The US
is basically fighting
indigenous Sunni Arab guerrilla groups - some with
Islamic overtones, some neo-Ba'athists. These are
no terrorists. Their agenda is unmistakable:
This does not mean that
al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers is asleep
at the wheel. On the contrary. The recent car
bombing (40 killed, more than 70 wounded) in 60%
Sunni Arab Baquba, capital of Diyala province,
northeast of Baghdad, may have been perpetrated by
al-Qaeda. Sahwa - or US-sponsored Awakening
Councils - didn't work in Diyala because of a
mixed population of Sunnis still fighting
Shi'ites. Al-Qaeda may have profited to add even
more fuel to the fire.
Then there was the
suicide biker who blew up a kebab restaurant in
Ramadi - in al-Anbar province, in the Sunni belt -
killing 13 and wounding 20. Once again, this bears
al-Qaeda's modus operandi - as well as a warning
"message" of revenge against local Sahwas
collaborating with the Americans.
complex are the recent bombings in 80% Sunni Arab
Mosul, where slow-motion ethnic cleansing of Sunni
Arabs is being conducted by Kurdish police and
Peshmerga forces helped by the US. After four car
bombings that killed five civilians and wounded
37, another car bomb killed 12 Peshmergas in the
explosive province of Ninevah, near the border
town of Rabia, in west Mosul. Rabia is highly
strategic: a key link between majority Sunni Arab
villages and Kurdistan, as well as a gateway to
Syria. This could be retaliation by Sunni Arab
guerrillas against the Kurdish and US offensive.
Which brings one to the key point: none of
this has absolutely anything to do with Iran.
Crackdown, sort of Prime
Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been very vocal on an
ongoing government crackdown on "militias". But
some militias are more untouchable than others.
Maliki and Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of
the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have
agreed this past weekend to keep intact the
"semi-autonomous" status of the Kurdish Peshmerga.
Why? Because they are "organized forces",
according to Maliki, part of two Iraqi army
divisions with 25,000 to 30,000 troops.
There's ample controversy on whether other
Peshmerga operating outside of Kurdistan's three
provinces will be disbanded. They certainly won't;
they will morph into "Iraqi" police and "Iraqi"
army - under the benign eyes of US commanders.
So the Peshmerga get a free ride while
Maliki's government - essentially the Shi'ite
Da'wa and Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council parties
plus the Kurds - and their rag-tag "Iraqi" army
force Muqtada al-Sadr to disband the Mahdi Army.
The Iraqi army - amply supported by the Americans
- is virtually encircling Sadr City in Baghdad,
severing communication arteries with the rest of
the city in already 12 of the 79
mini-neighborhoods that comprise the 3
million-plus giant slum. The recent battle of the
southern city of Basra, which started on March 25,
is technically not over, having morphed into a
medium-intensity battle of Sadr City.
again, this has nothing to do with Iran. Or does
it? The battle of Sadr City is useful for the Bush
administration spin machine to keep imprinting on
the American public the narrative that Iran gives
weapons to terrorists to kill American soldiers in
Iraq (even though these weapons are sold by Gulf
smugglers unconnected with Tehran). According to
the narrative, if Iran is the new al-Qaeda, the
Sadrists are their surrogates in Iraq.
Oil-drenched Peshmergas It's
not only the Peshmerga that remain free to roam.
According to the Az-Zaman newspaper, Maliki's
government, in a hush-hush manner, has also agreed
to accept all of the KRG's 20-plus dodgy oil deals
and their decentralized version of the new,
proposed Iraqi oil law. Most members of parliament
in Baghdad - aware of the explosive social
backlash - are essentially against foreign Big Oil
sinking their teeth into Iraq's nationalized oil
The price paid by the Kurds was
not extortive. They agreed - once again - to delay
the potentially cataclysmic Kirkuk referendum,
which they are confident of winning. The
referendum, to decide whether Kirkuk becomes a
part of the KRG, will only happen after the Bush
administration is gone.
So the simmering,
cataclysmic mess will be inherited by McCain,
Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. For the moment,
only one thing is certain: McCain won't be able to
blame Iran for the inexorable post-Kirkuk
bloodbath. Or will he?