Friday, October 24, 2008

What has we Awoke?

A recent article found in the Washington Post generates the need to contemplate what has actually been accomplished as a result of the "Awakening." Focusing on the developing political situation in Anbar, the literature numerates the positive military results witnessed recently in the province, but also exposes the potentially alarming socio-political developments which have arisen following the "awakened" anti-insurgent leaders’ empowerment.

In effect, these internal Iraqi groups have fought Sunni insurgents and al Qaeda operators, engendering the perception of greater stability and security. However, we must contemplate to what extent has sustainable security and stability been established? And, at what cost?

To begin with the “cost analysis” there is concern that upon the termination of the US-backed “salaries” these groups receive that security and stability successes will evaporate. Having lost a financial support and incentive system these groups may very well maneuver to exert more influence and solidify their current power holdings.

Secondly, these groups operate with a notable amount of autonomy and have no faith in the Iraqi government. This frustration is continually recycled and amplified by the fact that the Iraqi Army refuses to integrate any members of the “Awakening” groups as regular forces – which perpetuates concepts of illegitimacy on both sides.

As a result, a situation of extrajudicial power and third party justice has arisen in the province. Clearly exerting power, demarcating areas of control, and garnering support, the “Awakening” groups have begun adjudicating and dispensing justice on their own terms. This is problematic in two major respects: one is the obvious obfuscation of legitimate provincial courts; the second is the dissolution of the traditional influence of sheiks (who have provided guidance and dispute resolution for centuries).

In turn, having stripped traditional leaders of influence, the groups have divided the province into “fiefdoms” wherein they control “law” and “society” in a matter of their own interpretation.

Therefore, holding all these perceptions to a reasonable degree of accuracy, we must contemplate the validity of stability in Anbar (from a political position) and wonder if these “fiefdoms” will not succumb to warlord violence following the removal of US money and military forces?

1 comment:

Buster Bluth said...

Interestingly enough, the US government has made it clear that it will not pursue this same local arming strategy in Afghanistan. There they seem to see that arming warlords may pose an issues once the US forces leave. Maybe they feel like the Iraqis will behave more appropriately. Or they are more desperate to get out with some image of order left.