From the Editors’ Desk: Meanwhile, in Iraq

 
1200px-Assassin-Gate-Photo-by-John-W-Crockett

Assassins Gate, by John Crockett. Own work, public domain.

Via Politico:

It was only a matter of time before ordinary Iraqis stormed the walled-in palaces of their corrupt politicians.While the United States has been fixated on the Islamic State and the liberation of Mosul, the attention of ordinary Iraqis has been on the political unraveling of their own country. This culminated on Saturday when hundreds of protesters breached the U.S.-installed “Green Zone” at the heart of Baghdad for the first time and stormed the Iraqi parliament while Iraqi security forces stood back and watched. The demonstrators, supporters of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, toppled blast walls, sat in the vacated seats of the parliamentarians who had fled and shouted out demands for the government to be replaced. A state of emergency was declared. This incident should be a jarring alarm bell to Washington, which can no longer ignore the disintegration of the post-Saddam system it put in place 13 years ago. The sad reality is that Iraq has become ungovernable, more a state of militias than a state of institutions. As long as that state of affairs continues, even a weakened Islamic State, which has been losing territory and support, will find a home in Iraq, drawing on Sunni fears of corruption and incompetence by the Shia-dominated government.

The greatest threat to Iraq thus comes not from the Islamic State but from broken politics, catastrophic corruption, and mismanagement. Indeed there is a symbiotic relationship between terrorists and corrupt politicians: They feed off each other and justify each other’s existence. The post-2003 system of parceling out ministries to political parties has created a kleptocratic political class that lives in comfort in the Green Zone, detached from the long-suffering population, which still lacks basic services. There is no translation into Arabic of the term kleptocracy. But judging by the protesters chanting “you are all thieves,” they know exactly what it means.

There are 17 comments.

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  1. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    It actually gets more depressing from there.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I am nearly speechless. Everyone but Obama could have predicted this disaster when he promised a date to pull out troops. It is tragic and depressing for everyone.

    • #2
  3. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville
    @KCMulville

    If this were a revolution of ordinary citizens, we’d have a good idea of what to do. But these are the followers of Mookie al-Sadr. This is Egypt all over again … replacing the current horrible alternative with something worse. Our own election is pretty much the same thing, only much less lethal; going from Obama to either Hillary or Trump strikes me as the same pattern – although the evil doesn’t compare, the pattern is going from bad to worse.

    At this point, the replacement doesn’t have to be Superman or St. Ronald. I’ll happily settle for anyone reasonably effective; that is, mediocre but non-dictatorial. We don’t need anyone to make Iraq or America great again … just stop the trend from turning so badly downward.

    • #3
  4. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    It’s a bit simplistic for Politico to argue that this is the fault of the Green Zone. (Maybe less simplistic to say this is the fault of Obama’s pullout, but also more accurate.)

    And:

    The greatest threat to Iraq thus comes not from the Islamic State but from broken politics, catastrophic corruption, and mismanagement. . . .  a kleptocratic political class that lives in comfort . . . , detached from the long-suffering population, . . . But judging by the protesters chanting “you are all thieves,” they know exactly what it means.

    My goodness, that sounds so familiar.

    • #4
  5. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    DrewInWisconsin:It’s a bit simplistic for Politico to argue that this is the fault of the Green Zone. (Maybe less simplistic to say this is the fault of Obama’s pullout, but also more accurate.)

    And:

    The greatest threat to Iraq thus comes not from the Islamic State but from broken politics, catastrophic corruption, and mismanagement. . . . a kleptocratic political class that lives in comfort . . . , detached from the long-suffering population, . . . But judging by the protesters chanting “you are all thieves,” they know exactly what it means.

    My goodness, that sounds so familiar.

    Iraqi protestors are demonstrating against the U.S. Congress? Now I have seen it all.

    • #5
  6. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Biggest lesson from the era of Bush interventionism is that some peoples may not be worth saving, certainly the Afghan and Iraqi peoples have shown time and again they are not worth the life of a single American soldier.

    General Petreus once told the corruptocrat Maliki to his face that he would order American armored units to block and fire upon the Iraqi Army if Maliki tried to carry out his plans to apply a massive, armed beatdown of the al-Sadr dissidents.  Americans protected Iran-loving, utterly treacherous Shias from other, corrupt Shias after we liberated them all from Saddam.

    Now those al-Sadr mobs are fighting hard to form an Iranian puppet state forever at war with the Sunni Arab and Kurds to the north. The hell with them all.

    • #6
  7. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Susan Quinn:I am nearly speechless. Everyone but Obama could have predicted this disaster when he promised a date to pull out troops. It is tragic and depressing for everyone.

    Didn’t Bush promise the date and Obama just saw it through?

    • #7
  8. Pelayo Inactive
    Pelayo
    @Pelayo

    All I would like to see is a “safe zone” established on the Nineveh Plains for Iraqi minorities like Christians and Yazidis to live in peace.  Let the Sunnis and Shiites wage war on each other like they usually do.  May the best sect win.

    • #8
  9. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Susan Quinn:I am nearly speechless. Everyone but Obama could have predicted this disaster when he promised a date to pull out troops. It is tragic and depressing for everyone.

    I wonder though, at what point, would we be able to pull our troops from there?

    • #9
  10. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Mike H:

    Susan Quinn:I am nearly speechless. Everyone but Obama could have predicted this disaster when he promised a date to pull out troops. It is tragic and depressing for everyone.

    Didn’t Bush promise the date and Obama just saw it through?

    And predictions of disaster predated the firm pull out date. Like before the invasion.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around (if that’s the intention).

    On the bright side, people demonstrating against corruption is a good thing – no matter what their religion or politics.

    • #10
  11. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Pelayo:All I would like to see is a “safe zone” established on the Nineveh Plains for Iraqi minorities like Christians and Yazidis to live in peace. Let the Sunnis and Shiites wage war on each other like they usually do. May the best sect win.

    “They” (the Govt of Iraq, the Kurds, the West) can’t even evict ISIS from Nineveh Plains – a safe zone at this point seems unlikely.

    (And if there is a safe zone established, I hope the minorities don’t disappoint you once they have the ability to.)

    • #11
  12. Benjamin Glaser Inactive
    Benjamin Glaser
    @BenjaminGlaser

    But remember when some of us speak of caution towards the plans of the interventionists we are called fools.

    History is the great leveler of ideas.

    • #12
  13. Pelayo Inactive
    Pelayo
    @Pelayo

    Zafar:

    Pelayo:All I would like to see is a “safe zone” established on the Nineveh Plains for Iraqi minorities like Christians and Yazidis to live in peace. Let the Sunnis and Shiites wage war on each other like they usually do. May the best sect win.

    “They” (the Govt of Iraq, the Kurds, the West) can’t even evict ISIS from Nineveh Plains – a safe zone at this point seems unlikely.

    (And if there is a safe zone established, I hope the minorities don’t disappoint you once they have the ability to.)

    Fair point. If the West doesn’t have the political will to kick ISIS out, then we should help the Kurds to do the dirty work.  I am sure they will be more than happy to annex the safe zone to “Kurdistan” in northern Iraq in exchange for letting the minorities live in peace.

    • #13
  14. Autistic License Thatcher
    Autistic License
    @AutisticLicense

    Could someone remind me — didn’t we used to regard el Sadr as an Iranian agent provocateur?  Didn’t his agenda used to be getting the Shiites to replace the Sunni ruling class?

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    BrentB67:

    Susan Quinn:I am nearly speechless. Everyone but Obama could have predicted this disaster when he promised a date to pull out troops. It is tragic and depressing for everyone.

    I wonder though, at what point, would we be able to pull our troops from there?

    Your point is well taken, Brent. But giving them notice that we were leaving was like shooting ourselves in the foot.

    • #15
  16. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Pelayo:

    Fair point. If the West doesn’t have the political will to kick ISIS out, then we should help the Kurds to do the dirty work. I am sure they will be more than happy to annex the safe zone to “Kurdistan” in northern Iraq in exchange for letting the minorities live in peace.

    But look, the glass may be half full.

    • #16
  17. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    Mike H:

    Susan Quinn:I am nearly speechless. Everyone but Obama could have predicted this disaster when he promised a date to pull out troops. It is tragic and depressing for everyone.

    Didn’t Bush promise the date and Obama just saw it through?

    No.  I would like to see you stop making this dishonest assertion.  Bush never set a date to abandon the project, which is what Obama did on that date.

    Perhaps you also believe that Joe Biden was supposed to come up with a Status of Forces Agreement.

    • #17

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