All the success we have had this year improving the security situation will be for nothing if it doesn't lead to a set of events that allows us to turn over responsibility for security to the Iraqis and declare victory. I am expounding on a theme I began this weekend and something that has been under scrutiny at Captain's Journal for a while.
The cascading effect of our counter-insurgency efforts is leaving little room for bad guys to operate as every convert to the side of free Iraq is another set of eyes and ears providing intelligence that is increasingly acted on by Iraqi forces. As tribes and sheiks join the government's side, it puts growing pressure on the rest to sign up before the pie is all distributed. This momentum can and needs to be exploited to make some of the political gains that will allow us to leave with a win.
There are two main events that are vital and would be significant enough to make a declaration of victory possible. One is passage of an oil revenue agreement and while not specifically related to the war or security, it would go a long way toward giving people a stake on the game. If you can see prosperity coming your way, you are much more likely to take positive steps toward it. Right now only the central government benefits from this resource and an agreement that pushes that wealth down to the local populace will create Iraqis with a reason to take control of their own destiny.
A more direct harbinger of victory would a reconciliation process of some sort. The country has managed to avoid an all out civil war, but there has been a horrifying amount of violence and it shakes out along religious sectarian lines. A cease fire between Sunni and Shia would be welcome and helpful, but actual reconciliation programs would be an undeniable step forward. The recent trip by the successor to the leading Shia group to Anbar to meet with a leader of the Sunni Awakening is an amazing step.
In an unprecedented step, Ammar Al-Hakim visited the turbulent governorate of Al-Anbar where he met clan leader Ahmed Abu Risha in what may signal the start of Sunni-Shia reconciliation. According to AFP, the meeting between Ammar Al-Hakim and Abu Risha took place last Sunday in Al-Ramadi under heavy US security measures. This was the first visit by a senior SCIRI official to Ramadi, 100 kilometres west of Baghdad, a stronghold of Sunni resistance.
Abu Risha is leader of the US-backed Sunni clan alliance fighting Al-Qaeda. His brother Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, founder of the Anbar Revival Conference, was killed last month in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda. Following his arrival in Al-Anbar, Ammar Al-Hakim said that Iraq doesn't belong to Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, Arabs, or Turkomen, but to all Iraqis.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani met the country's Sunni vice president on Thursday for the first time to discuss a new initiative aimed at uniting feuding politicians.......
Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi, who heads the Sunni Islamic Party, met the reclusive Sistani in the holy Shi'ite city of Najaf in southern Iraq where he lives.
Sistani rarely leaves his home and makes few public statements. But Sistani sponsored Maliki's Shi'ite alliance and is hugely influential among Iraq's Shi'ites.
Hashemi stressed he had not asked Sistani to put pressure on any Shi'ite group to return to cabinet, saying the purpose of the meeting had been to discuss the new initiative, known as the Iraqi National Compact.
"The meeting was profound and many issues related to the political process were discussed," Hashemi told reporters after his meeting with the highly influential Shi'ite cleric.
"I briefed his eminence on the Iraqi National Compact and he informed me he had already seen a copy and read, analyzed and expressed his remarks on the initiative," he said.
After their efforts to declare defeatfailed miserably, the left switched to a chorus of "Yeah but, what about political progress?" This ignores the common sense notion that two groups actively involved in drilling holes in each other's heads and blowing just about everyone up are not likely to make a lot of political progress. Throw in a bunch of foreign terrorists working the global jihad and you are not going to get everyone in a circle singing Kumbayah. But al Qaeda in Iraq is toast, and the leaders of both Shia and Sunni have seen that their will be no Islamic State of Iraq as the new capital of the Caliphate. That means if they want to benefit from the oil that W came there to steal they better sign on and start working toward their own welfare and provide for their families.
So here is my cunning plan. We pull out all the stops and bring the State Department, the French and the UN into play working on reconciliation. With the steps already taken we ought to be able to spin up an Iraqi National Compact similar to the commissions that occurred in South Africa after the fall of Apartheid. We tie this to an oil revenue sharing law and sometime around Spring we have Maliki a Shia, Talabani a Kurd, and Al Hashemi a Sunni on a platform in Baghdad for a ceremony where W officially hands the conn over to the Iraqis. Cut to a few months later and a huge victory parade in DC on the 4th of July with troops fresh from Iraq as they rotate out for good. Pan to America saluting our heroes and remembering that we came to liberate from oppression, not to steal oil.