Sunday, May 21, 2006

Four wars and one on the way

According to Juan Cole, there are now four distinct wars going on in Iraq simultaneously:

1) The Sunni Arab guerrilla war to expel US troops from the Sunni heartland;

2) The militant Shiite guerrilla war to expel the British from the south;

3) The Sunni-Shiite civil war;

4) The Kurdish war against Arabs and Turkmen in Kirkuk province, and the Arab and Turkmen guerrilla struggle against the encroaching Peshmerga (the Kurdish militia).

What an unbelievable mess we've made of that suffering country.

In Anthony Shadid's Night Draws Near, he reports that after the U.S. invasion, Iraqis simply couldn't understand how the apparently all powerful United States, which had so easily ended Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, could fail to prevent looting, establish security, and restore some kind of government. They'd seen coups and wars before, but always some authority reestablished itself. And that was three years ago.


Sarah Chayes in Kandahar, dressed in Afghan's men's clothes, which she has discovered give her the best chance to move about without drawing a crowd, though boys flock to her. Transom Review photo.
Meanwhile, something of the same phenomenon is happening around Kandahar in Afghanistan, according to former NPR correspondent Sarah Chayes who is working for a cooperative business and has lived in the area since 2001. The U.S. refuses to admit that the Taliban is organizing a revolt from neighboring Pakistan and attributes the violence that wracks southern Afghanistan to Al Quaeda. Locals know better but are mystified by official denials. So they have their own explanation:

The United States must be in league with the Taliban. They reason that America, with its power and riches, could bring an end to the "insurgency" in a month, if it so chose. They figure that America remains a close and munificent ally of Pakistan, the country that is sponsoring the "insurgency," and so the continuing violence must be a deliberate element of U.S. policy. ... [I]n a stunning irony, much of this city, the Taliban's former stronghold, is disgusted with the Americans not because of their Western culture, but because of their apparent complicity with Islamist extremists.

Read all of Chayes article. Afghanistan is going the way of Iraq, with less media scrutiny.

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