Last Chance for Iraq
Recently, several reports by various military experts have painted a grim picture of Iraq. The assessments differ in key conclusions, however all the experts, including Gen. David Petraeus and former Gen. James Jones agree that Iraqi forces are currently unable to take over security operations from American troops. While this assessment may be disappointing to many Americans, the Free Muslims Coalition believes that Iraqi forces' inability to takeover security operations may be the only leverage the United States has to facilitate reconciliation and a political solution between the parties in Iraq.
Over the past three years the Free Muslims Coalition has argued that the only path to peace in Iraq is a political solution that leads to reconciliation between Iraq's major groups and that military operations merely buy time until a political solution is reached. The good news is that all American officials now understand that a political solution is a prerequisite to peace in Iraq. The bad news is that the U.S. government has been unable to convince the ruling Shiite and Kurdish Iraqi government to adopt political changes to encourage the Sunni Arabs to lay down their arms and become partners in a future Iraq. Consequently, the only question for American political leaders is how to facilitate or even demand that the Shiite and Kurdish ruling government of Iraq accept a political solution that may lead to peace. With the release of General Petraeus' report the Free Muslims Coalition offers the following suggestions on how to achieve stability in Iraq.
Iraq is a multiethnic heterogeneous society with numerous ethnic and religious groups, including a significant Christian population. However, the three largest groups are the Shiite Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds. For more than 1000 years, Iraq has been ruled by Sunni Arabs. This of course changed after the United States invaded Iraq and power shifted to the Shiites and the Kurds. As a result of the power shift, the Sunni Arabs now feel under siege and that they are being ethnically cleansed from Iraq with the help of the United States. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Sunni Arabs made up 50% of Baghdad and now only number 25%. Consequently, the Sunni Arabs responded to the perceived threat against them with a deadly insurgency that has frustrated all efforts to quell it through military means.
To address their concerns, the Sunni Arabs want to amend the new Iraqi constitution and enact various laws that protect them, give them significant power and economic resource sharing and keep Iraq one united nation with a strong central government. So far, the Shiite and Kurdish led Iraqi government has failed to enact any meaningful reform or political compromise with the Sunni Arabs. Consequently, the Sunni Arabs have rejected the new Iraq and have vowed never to accept the new Iraqi government nor allow peace and stability unless political changes are made. Moreover, the Sunni Arabs have opened their doors to anyone who is willing to help them, including Al-Qaida and Usama Bin Laden.
As a consequence of the failure of the current Iraqi government to enact reforms that may lead to peace, many in the U.S. government, including senator John Warner of Virginia, have called on U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq, either substantially or symbolically.
The Free Muslims Coalition recognizes that the current Iraqi government will not pursue reconciliation and compromise as long as the U.S. military is fighting their battle. However, the U.S. can send a strong message to the Iraqi government without immediately withdrawing American troops from Iraq. As mentioned above, all American experts, including Gen. David Petraeus and former Gen. James Jones acknowledge that Iraqi forces are incapable of assuming security operations from the U.S. military. The United States military could threaten to temporarily redeploy away from the population centers to send a clear message to the Iraqi government that the U.S. will not be there to protect them unless they work toward reconciliation and reach a political solution. In other words, the U.S. military should give the Iraqi government a glimpse of what would happen to them if U.S. troops withdraw.
In conclusion, the unwillingness of the U.S. military to fight on behalf of the Iraqi government maybe the most powerful leverage the U.S. has with the Shiites and Kurds to persuade them to compromise. Moreover, the U.S. military should continue to work directly with Sunni Arabs as has been done successfully in Anbar Province. Unless a political solution is reached the war in Iraq will only get bigger, Iran's influence will increase and criminals like Al Qaida will continue to find supporters for their deadly services and dark vision for the future.