Tuesday, December 20, 2011

That Was Quick

The last U.S. truck to leave Iraq hasn't even been to the wash rack yet, and the opening political salvos of the Iraqi civil war have been fired.

Iraq's Shiite-led government issued an arrest warrant Monday for Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, the country's highest ranking Sunni official, on terrorism charges.
al-Hashemi's Sunni Iraqiya faction has threatened to leave the coalition government, so I guess the next logical step is to neutralize, either politically or physically, its leadership.

Here are my prognostications:
  • Continued political wrangling, including arrests and forced defections, over the next month or so
  • Targeted assassinations of Sunni and Shiite leadership by spring
  • Terrorist attacks against religious demonstrations and significant monuments (mosques) by April
  • Full on civil war by June
I also think the Kurds will use the fighting between the Shiite and Sunni sectors to finally make their defacto independence official, which will go a long way to piss off Turkey.  Saudi Arabia won't stand by and watch their Sunni brothers get the snot kicked out of them by a numerically superior Shiite population.  If the Saudis send in troops, then Iran will go from covert support of the Shiites to actually sending in their own troops.  Whether the fighting stays in Iraq or not will depend on whether or not Iran wants to try to bite off the Shiite area of Saudi Arabia.  Riyadh isn't equipped to stand up to Tehran in any form, so we would probably get dragged in if Iran actually invades Saudi Arabia.

Who's going to win the Iraqi Civil War of 2012?  In Iraq, it'll be the Shiite and the Kurds.  The Shiites are too numerous and well-supported by Iran for the Sunnis to prevail.  Iran and the Shiite factions have been working together for years to plan and prepare for the day after we left.  I don't think the Sunnis have really ever recovered from losing power in 2003.  They certainly don't have as active an international sponsor as the Shiites.  The Kurds will probably stay out of the fighting and if they're smart will go dormant when it comes to Iran and Turkey until the dust settles to their south.

Internationally, I see Iran benefiting the most from all this, unless they invade Saudi Arabia.  If they can keep the fighting local to Iraq, especially if they can keep their support covert, then the Obama administration will have no credible reason to get involved.  If they publicly send in their military, or if they and Saudi Arabia lock horns, even Obama will have to sit up and take notice.  In the end, Iran will own Iraq in the same way that they own Syria.  Maybe they don't claim the territory outright, but they'll definitely be the ones pulling the strings.

Any way this plays out, Iraq is about to get at least as chaotic and bloody as it was before the surge in 2007.  I hope I'm wrong.


No comments:

Creative Commons License
DaddyBear's Den by DaddyBear is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at daddybearden.blogspot.com.