Monday, September 03, 2007

Will Bush's Victory Lap Backfire?

During his six-hour stay in a well-fortified air field in Anbar, the President may well have exacerbated sectarian tension in a way that will produce what Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called “squirting” of attacks to Shiite areas of Iraq.

"We had a good frank discussion," Bush said after his meeting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and top leaders today, which translates as pressure to make progress in coming to terms with Sunnis in Iraq’s central government.

At the same time, the President promised more aid to Sunni tribal leaders who have only recently turned against car-bombing insurgents from Saudi Arabia for their own reasons, certainly not out of friendship for the U. S.

But as always, Bush may be out of his depth in the quagmire of sectarian hatred. “Mr. Maliki,” the New York Times reported, “has been deeply worried about the outreach to Sunni tribes, which has included American support for setting up armed neighborhood watch groups in Anbar and other Sunni areas.”

A political scientist funded by the Defense Department, Robert Pape, who has studied suicide attacks over the past 25 years, now predicts Shiite action against Americans soon. "We're heading toward the cocktail of conditions that favor suicide terrorism from the Shia," he says.

Pape points out that our troop buildup in Iraq, which has begun to target Shiite groups such as Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army as well as Sunni insurgents, will cause increasing numbers of Shiites to see Americans the way many Sunnis do--as occupiers, rather than liberators.

In Iraq, the choices always seem to involve frying pans and fires.

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