Top Ten Myths about Iraq in 2005
by Juan Cole
Iraq has unfortunately become a football in the rough and ready, two-party American political arena, generating large numbers of sound bites and so much spin you could clothe all of China in the resulting threads.
Here are what I think are the top ten myths about Iraq, that one sees in print or on television in the United States.
1. The guerrilla war is being waged only in four provinces. This canard is trotted out by everyone from think tank flacks to US generals, and it is shameful. Iraq has 18 provinces, but some of them are lightly populated. The most populous province is Baghdad, which has some 6 million residents, or nearly one-fourth of the entire population of the country. It also contains the capital. It is one of the four being mentioned!. Another of the four, Ninevah province, has a population of some 1.8 million and contains Mosul, a city of over a million and the country's third largest! It is not clear what other two provinces are being referred to, but they are probably Salahuddin and Anbar provinces, other big centers of guerrilla activity, bringing the total for the "only four provinces" to something like 10 million of Iraq's 26 million people.
But the "four provinces" allegation is misleading on another level. It is simply false. Guerrilla attacks occur routinely beyond the confines of Anbar, Salahuddin, Ninevah and Baghdad. Diyala province is a big center of the guerrilla movement and has witnessed thousands of deaths in the ongoing unconventional war. Babil province just south of Baghdad is a major center of back alley warfare between Sunnis and Shiites and attacks on Coalition troops. Attacks, assassinations and bombings are routine in Kirkuk province in the north, a volatile mixture of Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs engaged in a subterranean battle for dominance of the area's oil fields. So that is 7 provinces, and certainly half the population of the country lives in these 7, which are daily affected by the ongoing violence. It is true that violence is rare in the 3 northern provinces of the Kurdistan confederacy. And the Shiite south is much less violent than the 7 provinces of the center-north, on a good day. But some of this calm in the south is an illusion deriving from poor on the ground reporting. It appears to be the case that British troops are engaged in an ongoing struggle with guerrilla forces of the Marsh Arabs in Maysan Province. Even calm is not always a good sign. The southern port city of Basra appears to come by its via a reign of terror by Shiite religious militias.
Sunnis: "We went to a wedding, and it turned into a funeral"
That is the sentiment of Sunni Arabs in the wake of the Iraq election. Sunni leaders had high hopes when they decided to participate--rather than boycott--the elections. Despite a strong turnout, they received relatively few number of seats in the permanent government, leading many to claim widespread fraud.
The most prominent Sunnis who won the election were disqualified on Friday on suspicions they were high-ranking officials in Saddam's Baath Party. The decision to oust the most prominent Sunni winners has put the whole country on edge:
Meet your new Turkish overlord
by Steve Gilliard
This is the biggest overlooked issue of the war. I visited Turkey over the summer and had dozens of conversations with Turkish citizens, including three Kurds.
Amazingly, the opinions I heard about Kurdistan were completely unanimous, even from the Kurds.
First, when I asked what they thought Turkey would do if a Kurdish state were created.
Answer: Turkey would invade it immediately. I then asked what would happen if the US backed the Kurds. Answer: Then we would fight the Americans and it would be a very, very brutal war.
I asked why the issue was so important. Answer: A Kurdistan would destabilize the Kurdish portion of Turkey, which would jeopardize Turkey's control over the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
They added that water is Turkey's most valuable resource. One even said: "Iraq has oil, but we have water. The oil will run out, but the water will not. Besides, you can't drink oil, anyway."
Sounds like Slip Kid to me
Kurds preparing takeover; U.S. exit strategy at risk
The U.S. plan for leaving Iraq is in trouble, with more than 10,000 Kurds in the Iraqi army prepared to seize control of northern Iraq for an independent state.
The debacle that is the war in Iraq promises to get much worse.