Friday, March 02, 2007

Who Are the 'Iraqis'?

It's interesting to hear 'experts' talk about Iraqis. Iraqis feel this way or that way, they claim. Bill Mahr just recently figured out (apparently from Joe Biden) that there are three groups within Iraq who are kinda different from each other. Good job, Bill - many people are still struggling with that one. In the article below, a 'terror expert' claims that insurgents have won the hearts and minds of Iraqis. It does not mention which groups of Iraqis sympathize with insurgents; he simply refers to them as 'Iraqis' as if ALL Iraqis sympathize with insurgents.

Terror expert: Insurgents have won 'hearts and minds' of Iraqis
Michael Roston

An expert on the Iraqi insurgency said Sunni forces fighting the American military have already won the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people.

Evan Kohlmann, who produces the "terrorist communique clearinghouse", spoke to Salon's Kevin Berger in an interview published this morning.

Kohlmann's website watches the statements, videos, and other communications issued by Iraqi insurgent groups, and he has subsequently been employed as a "consultant" by various federal entities, including the Departments of Defense and Justice, the FBI and the CIA.

Berger asked Kohlmann if Sunni insurgents, including al-Qaeda in Iraq, had won the "hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people during the course of the conflict in the country.

"Unfortunately, I do," he responded.

The failure of the US after the bombing of the Samarra mosque to try to control the rise of Shi'a militias caused them to go "on a rampage," and cemented the power of the insurgent groups among the Sunni population of the country, he argued.

Kohlmann was dismissive of the idea that Iran was the main driver of the conflict in Iraq.

"The most common nationality of foreign insurgents in Iraq has been Saudis. Where do you think all the money comes from to pay for these operations? It's from Saudi donors," he said.

He noted he wasn't blaming the Saudi government, but added, "If we're going to put pressure on Iraq's neighbors, let's put pressure on all of Iraq neighbors to stop contributing to the violence."

Regarding the emergence of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Kohlmann told Berger, "There wouldn't be an al-Qaeda in Iraq if the U.S. wasn't there."

But at the same time, he said American troops should not rapidly withdraw from the country.

"If we withdraw from Iraq right now...there's going to be a war for control of Baghdad and then once Baghdad is ripped to the ground, the battle is going to spread across Iraq. It could potentially be like Rwanda," he warned.

"If we withdraw, a widespread war is going to be entirely our responsibility," Kohlmann continued. "It's easy to say it's Iraqis killing Iraqis. But nobody else is going to see it that way. Everyone is going to affix blame to us. We will ultimately cause a situation that forces us to reinvade Iraq and create even more casualties. It's an awful Catch-22."

But Kohlmann admitted that current options to resolve the conflict were thin, and added that he didn't think the Bush administration was smart enough to figure out a way to stop Iraq's violence.

"I thought perhaps, in invading Iraq, they had some long-term view that nobody else could see," he said. "But that hope faded very quickly."

The full interview can be accessed after viewing a subscription at Salon's website.

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