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Cenk Uygur

Cenk Uygur

Posted: December 2, 2005 05:08 AM

When Will We Fight the New Shiite Army We're Building in Iraq?


We do the damnedest things. We sell weapons to Saddam in the 1980's and then we turn around and invade Iraq in 2003 because we think he might still have those weapons. We build up a tough Muslim army in Afghanistan in the 1980's to fight the Russians and we wind up invading Afghanistan in 2001 to fight that same Muslim force ourselves. And now for the latest installment, we build up a Shiite army in Iraq only to fight them ...

You can fill in the blank. I'm not sure when we will go to war with the army we are so vigorously training right now in Iraq. But if history is any judge, what is certain is that we will fight them at some point.

Outside of historic generalities, there is ample reason to believe that there are specific reasons why we are likely to fight this Iraqi army. First, the so-called Iraqi army we're training right now is comprised mainly of Shiites and Kurds. They are fighting the Sunni insurgency, so the presence of Sunnis in the Iraqi army is limited and mostly for show.

Soon, the Kurds will split off into their own country and take their soldiers with them. If you asked the Kurds in the Iraqi army whether they would side with the new government of Iraq or with an independent Kurdistan in case of a conflict, you would have approximately three Kurds who would remain loyal to the Iraqi government. The rest of the peshmarga (the 100,000 strong Kurdish militia) would thank us very much for the extra training and weapons and go fight for something they actually believe in.

If you think I'm wrong and you think that the Kurds will remain loyal to a country where they would be a significant minority, then how do you explain the oil deal they announced this week? They've agreed to a separate oil exploration deal with a Norwegian company, without consulting the central Iraqi government or getting their consent. Do you think they're going to share the revenues from that deal with the rest of Iraq?

I hope you're not that naïve. But if you are, the prime minister of the Northern Kurdish regime will disabuse you of that notion real quick. Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani explains, "there is no way Kurdistan would accept that the central government will control our resources." Well, there you have it then.

So, that leaves the Shiites, who are the only people invested in this current government because they are the only ones who would have true power in this "democracy." They have 60% of the population. They can win every election and make every decision by themselves. Power sharing is a wonderful ideal, so was communism. Except it turns out people don't work to the according to their abilities and take according to their needs -- they take as much as possible for their own good. And they also don't voluntarily give up power or oil revenue to a different ethnicity, especially one that has been oppressing them for centuries.

The minute we leave Iraq, the Shiites are going to take everything. The Sunnis will be powerless to stop them. Why do you think they're using force now? It's because they don't have any other bargaining chips. They are a permanent minority, they have almost no oil in their territory and they are disfavored by the US. They have no other means of acquiring power other than through the use of force.

So, will the new war start when the Shiites start butchering the Sunni minority so that we have to re-invade the country to fight the army we're currently training? Or do you think it will be when they join forces with their fellow Shiites in Iran and support Iran's new nuclear program?

If the Iraqi Shiites work with the Iranian Shiites to build weapons of mass destruction and we have to fight the army we built for them because they have WMD, I think we will have broken the record for irony.