Here is a video published by al jazeera and produced by BBC filmmakers that I highly recommend watching. The filmmakers have gotten the views of local US military commanders, local Sunni leaders and displaced Shiites. They have footage from the Anbar province that has been too dangerous for media to enter during this war. There isn’t reliable information from US sources, but I find Al Jazeera’s version quite plausible. Check it out (you may want to skip to the first two minutes of introduction and go right to the documentary itself):
And then you can also watch the second part here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsQ6twcWevY
Given the failures of the central government in Iraq, the Bush administration has taken a new tactic: working directly with tribal leaders. To tout the success of this new approach, President Bush himself went to Anbar province in early September and General Petraeus pointed to the decline of violence as evidence that the surge is working. But Sheik Abu Risa, the man who met with Bush and is credited for pulling together the local coalition, was killed yesterday by roadside bomb. What’s going on?
The Bush administration version of the story is that Al Queda is responsible for his death. His death is a blow to our efforts, but it demonstrates why we can’t let the terrorists win.
Al Jazeera has a different version of the story. Indeed, there has been remarkable peace in Anbar, but it has come at quite a cost. The local Sunni tribes have killed or displaced the 15,000 Shiite families that used to live there. According to Al Jazeera, Sheik Abu Risa was just a front man who has rise to power came from his role in dolling out US construction money. He was finally killed by real Sunni sheiks who resented his connection to the US. And Al Jazeera worries that the weapons that the US provides to the former insurgents will only add more fuel to an impending civil war in Iraq.
We need to be asking ourselves: how big is the refugee problem in Iraq? what is causing it? How can it be fixed? Is the surge a dangerous band-aid or the new solution touted by the Bush administration? I have to say that this report makes me even more skeptical about the success of the surge.
Yesterday, I started a conversation on e-thepeople.org about Obama’s new plan for Iraq. I wanted to summarize the interesting feedback that I’ve gotten from these discussions.
First, I raised the question: how does Obama plan to fix the oil sharing problem? No one responded, but I think Chris Dodd has the best proposal on this subject yet, whereby the oil revenue would be split among the federal government of Iraq, regional governments and directly to Iraqis.
Second, bocamp22 asked whether partitioning proposed by Biden should be part of the solution. CatsAngel responded by questioned how Shiites and Sunnies could really be separated and Kent Wicker worried that partitioning could lead to ethnic cleansing. Personally, I am not a fan of partitioning and I think it can’t possibly solve anything if the oil issue isn’t resolved first.
Third, several members asserted their belief that military withdrawal would threaten our security. My personal belief is that the state of Iraq poses no threat, but that the terrorist activity within Iraq may pose a threat. I think the innovation of Obama’s plan is that he offers an alternative to a military presence — namely, humanitarian aid and diplomacy — to mitigate this risk.
Fourth, several members questioned whether humanitarian aid and diplomacy would work. Chickmd called diplomacy with Iraqi’s neighbors an “error in judgment” because these neighbors are our enemies. I agree that this is a risk, so I’d like to how Obama wants to go about this delicate task. As for humanitarian aid, Chickmd believes that Obama like “all other democrats he does not care how he wasts other peoples tax dollars.” He wants out now and to cut our losses completely, but when I pressed him, he preferred Bush’s plan to Obama’s if he were forced between those two unsavory choices.
But the highest rated comment by d_jinx says that Obama’s strategy is risky and uncertain, but better than not trying anything different: “Gotta get started because what we what we’re doing now ain’t encouraging.”
Amen to that, brother!
Please see a discussion I’ve started on e-thePeople.org for my full thoughts, and hopefully, the comments on it from the community. In a nutshell, I agree with Obama on Iraq (see his plan here). Our security is no longer threatened by the state of Iraq, so our military should come home. In its place, we should use humanitarian aid and diplomacy to fix the mess we’ve made. Its only flaw: it does not address how oil revenue should be distributed within Iraq, the root cause of the instability in Iraq now in my opinion.