quarta-feira, 2 de julho de 2008

IMPA, Rio de Janeiro
Escrevendo em blog alheio

Eu não sou iraquiano. Nunca estive no Iraq, não falo árabe, não tenho qualquer qualificação torne especialista no Oriente Médio, em estratégia ou em guerra. Nada mais natural, portanto, que eu seja convidado para escrever um post em um blog britânico a respeito da situação atual no Iraque...

O post obviamente é em inglês, e não tenho paciência agora para traduzí-lo.

The thesis up front: I believe that the most important dynamic in Iraq today is not the fight between Americans and insurgents. It hasn’t been for a long time. For a while it was sectarian conflict, and it nearly destroyed the country. Although the latter dynamic remains significant, it is now secondary to the conflict between parties currently ‘inside’ the structures of power of the Iraqi state and those totally or partially outside who want in. How this tension is resolved will largely determine whether Iraq will move toward a decent outcome or return to civil war.

Insurgent attacks will probably continue for a long time (albeit at a much lower rate than before); but the insurgency has failed strategically and has been largely defeated tactically, and is no longer very significant. Some of the groups previously involved in it still have a significant role to play, but in a different context.

The Sunni nationalist insurgency’s strategic goal was to suppress the resurgent Shia, restore Sunni hegemony, and expel the Americans. The Sunnis lost the civil war to the Shia, no longer hope to rule Iraq alone, and increasingly turn toward the Americans for protection against the ‘Persians’. Most of them flipped sides or went home, with the remainder gravitating towards the Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI, which incidentally shares the ideology but is only loosely associated with AQ itself).

AQI’s strategic goal went a bit beyond Iraq’s borders, and included inspiring an Afghan-style jihad to expel the Americans (thus making them useful allies to the Sunni nationalists), and leveraging this victory into turning the Sunni parts of Iraq into a proto-caliphate (the Islamic State of Iraq, declared in late 2006, which their erstwhile local allies were less keen on). AQI nearly succeeded when the Samarra bombing and other atrocities deliberately ignited a bloody ethnic war that nearly destroyed (or finished destroying) the country. Eventually, however, it lost too. Significantly, its defeat is due in large measure to the rejection, in Anbar and elsewhere, of its ideology by what was supposed to be its core constituency: conservative Sunni Arabs under American occupation.

Although totally opposed to the American presence, the heterogeneous Mehdi army (or Jaysh al Mahdi, JAM for short) was never primarily, or consistenly, a proper Shia insurgency. After staging two uprising in 2004, which the Americans put down after some hard (if lopsided) fighting, direct confrontations subsided. JAM insurgent activity was minor compared to attacks by Sunni groups until late 2007, which is also when the EFP started appearing in greater numbers. Indeed, most of JAM spent most of its time either ethnically cleansing Sunnis in eastern Baghdad or running various criminal enterprises, rather than fighting the US. Mind you, the Sadrists are extremely nationalistic and no friends of the Americans (their rank and file are also far more anti-Iranian than, say, Badr cadres). But it is a different dynamic from that of Sunni insurgents. First, JAM has more of a return address, or at least has arrestable public faces and some physical infrastructure. Second, they have a constituency which demands protection from AQI tender mercies and goodies from their patronage network. Thirdly, they are or were in the government.
[Leia o resto aqui]

No final do post, deixei uma lista de sites que considero interessantes sobre o assunto. A dita cuja segue abaixo.

There is a wealth of information and opinion every aspect of the
Iraq war floating around the internet. The sites listed below provide,
in my humble idiosyncratic opinion, a reasonably wide variety of news,
opinions and points of view by people who either are or where in Iraq,
or have studied it extensively.

Abu Muqawama
is a collective blog "dedicated to following issues related to contemporary insurgencies as well as counterinsurgency tactics and strategy". Not surprisingly, Iraq comes up a lot, usually in an insightful manner. I specially recommend the comment threads.

Small Wars Journal is self-explanatory. More academic and less bloggy, it features
interesting analyzes and case studies about Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

Abu Aardvark is Mark Lynch, an American academic who focus on Iraq and the Arab media

Nir Rosen is a freelance writer who has thaught himself Arabic, and has traveled extensively around Iraq, and has unequaled access to JAM members

Reidar Visser is a Norwegian academic who knows a great deal about the shiia and southern Iraq

Eye Raki is Haider al Khoei, who is the son of the murdered Abdul Majid al-Khoei (see above). He lives in London and has just returned from a visit to Iraq and Iran. As far as shiia clerical politics are concerned, you won't find a better insider, unless Muqtada himself starts blogging.

Talisman Gate is Nibras Kazimi, an unabashed neocon Iraqi exile. He is extremely well-informed, and his analyzes are usually readable despite the thick ideological coloring. Has the annoying habit of launching wild tirades against commentators he doesn't like

Missing Links' author, one 'Badger' living in Canada, was separated from NK at birth, and now translates articles from the Arab media into English that portray the Americans as evil, bumbling or failing. He is sometimes informative, more often just plain annoying.

Arabic Media Shack I just found out about this site (from a commentator on AM). It is like missing Links without the bile and conspirazoid silliness.

The Long War Journal provides straightforward military analysis from a US military perspective. It avoid hohaa-isms, but tends to report the US official line uncritically. It also compiles detailed Iraqi and Afghan orders of battle, and follow closely the progress of the listed units, down to battalion level.

Iraqi media doesn't have a large English language presence, but you can check Aswat al Iraq or Azzaman, for instance.

Not much is happening in the Iraqi bloggosphere; many of the best bloggers have left the country (and one, Blogiraq, was murdered). The Iraq Blogger Central provides a decent roundup of Iraq bloggers of all persuasions, punctuated by the occasional off-color comment.

There are plenty of American milblogs. Some just blabber inane hohaa-ism, but there are plenty that are well-written and informative. A good roundup can be found in mudville. A couple of highlights: Army of Dude was in Iraq in 2006, and took part in the cleaning of Baqubah in 2006(Micheal Yon was reporting on the same events from a different perspective). Check his archives for insight on combat from the ground level, and on the difficulties of working with the the former insurgencent of the 'sons of Iraq (nee 1920 Revolution Brigades). AoD is firmly against the war, which leads to some interesting (and surprisingly polite) comment threads. Acute Politics was part of a Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team in Anbar around 2006/2007.

For some hard data, check Iraq Coalition Casualties, which tallies coalition and Iraqi deaths,
and along with a good up to date selection of news stories. Both the American Department of Defense and the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) provide congress with quarterly reports with lots of useful tables. Congress also has its own report-producing
, the General Accountability Office The Saban Center for Middle East Policy does something similar.

Well, this pretty much covers it. I hope that, whatever your opinions on the Iraq war are, you will find this list useful.

5 comentários:

Nobody disse...

Excellent. Now Michael Totten can go on vacations without worrying who will keep his blog running in his absence.

|3run0 disse...


Nobody disse...

:D :D

But seriously. Very well written. Well done, Bruno.

|3run0 disse...

Thanks NB! All of my posting and reading Middle Eastern blogs seems to have been useful for something ;)

|3run0 disse...

BTW, since we are talking about Totten, have you seen his latest on Kosovo? If things get too rockety around in Tel Aviv, you might want to consider relocating to Prishtina