Digby has been talking about the fact that the US probably trained Shia death squads. Her particular article is from a year ago, but my take is that the accelerating use of death squads dates from Negroponte’s appointment. This is what I wrote just before his appointment, in April 2004, and while parts are wrong, the core holds up well:
The suggested appointment of Negroponte tells you what you need to know. Here’s how it will probably play out. When US will build up its proxies in Iraq and then ”œturn over” power to them. These proxies will position themselves (and are doing so) as mild Islamicists and will us nationalist rhetoric and mild anti-Americanism in their speech. (See Stirling’s Blood Sports and The Fox of Baghdad for information on these people and their specific tactical maneuvers).
They will undercut other factions support through the use of death squads. Their loyal troops will be armed with American weapons, most specifically, helicopters ”“ the weapon most suited to putting down urban insurrections and they will use those troops to battle their opponents. They will get the intelligence they need through informers, through American mastery of electronic intelligence, and through the widespread use of torture and intimidation of enemies by threatening their families.
The problem, of course, is that they’ve lost control of the death squads. Or… have they? People get all worked up about ethnic cleansing (as they should) but in this sort of warfare it’s very effective – if you know the Sunni insurection’s base of support is in Sunni neighbourhoods then getting rid of Sunni neighbourhoods in your strongholds – whether through straight cleansing or by example killings, makes perfect military sense. As Mao pointed out – guerillas swim amongst the people like fish in water – remove the water and they are easily dealt with or must themselves flee.
And if you ethnic cleanse the Sunnis out of all the areas where they aren’t the majority, conveniently enough you also cleanse them out of all the areas with oil. Neat, eh?
More after the Jump
And terror, for ethnic cleansing, is the point. It’s also the point when you’re trying to convince people not to cooperate with the insurgency. Win/Win. So torturing people before they die – in ways that are visible after death – like drilling holes in them, again, makes perfect sense.
Once you’ve cleansed the Sunnis out of your areas, they’re much more defensible. And if Iraq walks down a partition route, that’s what you want. If it doesn’t go down the partition route, and you manage to control the Sunni areas, the fact that they are all together makes it easier to bomb them and punish them when necessary. Just like Saddam, on occasion, you can assume that everyone in the village or town is your enemy, kill’em all and let Allah sort them out.
I expect to continue to see terror from all sides in this civil war. And when the US leaves I expect to see an Indian partition style bloodbath as the remaining Sunnis, Shia and Kurds make a break for safe areas and are cut down in the streets in their tens, perhaps even hundreds, of thousands.
Not only does it make military sense, but because hatred has been inflamed so high and because there is no armed faction who has both the ability and interest to protect minorities, it is virtually inevitable.
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