Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

Visit Douglas Farah's
author page at

Press Releases

The Dangerous Game of Alliances
The U.S. military and intelligence community appear to have concluded that the only way to fight the al Qaeda-related groups in Iraq is to enlist the help of Sunni groups hostile to the United States. This is a risky strategy that carries almost as many dangers as it does possibilities.

Having seen efforts to divide radical groups through material inducements (Marxist groups and paramilitary groups in Latin America, primarily), it seems clear that the U.S. will have to offer the Sunnis something tangible to make such an alliance more than a one-night stand where there is deep remorse on all sides almost immediately.

Without a Sunni stake in the long term peaceful existence in Iraq, with the power proportionate to their minority status, but with the ability to be heard and influence national events, the process will turn out, I would bet, worse for all of us.

The question is, to me, if the U.S. arms Sunni groups who are fed up with the violence of the al Qaeda groups, and are willing and able to take them on directly, how does one insure they don't eventually turn that fire back on U.S. troops?

The answer is that the Sunni groups will have to have some stake in the emerging political system of Iraq, something that they don't now feel they have.

Instead, the Shia majority has opened the doors of influence and power to not only their own majority groups in Iraq, but to the radicalized government of Iran.

This is the reason the current strategy has the most to offer in the long term. Iran is the threat that keeps the Saudi, Jordanian and Egyptian elite awake at night. It is the one unifying force that can help Sunnis work together for a viable political presence in Iran, not tied to Islamist violence.

The problem across the board seems to be the unwillingness of the current national government to get past the desire for revenge on Saddam and the Sunnis who supported him and benefitted from his rule.

Such short-sighted political games have cost the country dearly, and do not seem ready to change under the current Iraqi leadership, certainly not without a strong shove from the United States.

Gen. Patreaus, the Congress and the Bush administration seem to finally be willing to deal with this reality, and hence the acceptance of benchmarks, no matter how weak, in the funding process. These give teeth to U.S. threats that aid can and will be cut if behavior is not changed.

This is similar in many ways to the way aid was delivered in El Salvador and Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s. The conditions, for all their controversy, did modify the behavior of the Salvadoran military, the Contras and other actors. It is not a pretty picture, and the conditionality needs to be carefully thought out and implemented, rather than a knee-jerk reaction to obtain an immediate result with little regard for long-term consequences. But it can get results if done right.

The risks are enormous. The Sunni groups intensely dislike the United States and are only willing to form a tactical alliance, at this point, to get rid of the al Qaeda groups, viewed as too willing to kill other Muslims. Once that threat is mitigated, the guns could turn back on the American "allies" in the blink of an eye. The enemy of my enemy becomes simply the enemy again.

Then there is the problem of Sunni militias in all out war with Shia militias, some tied to the national government. What is the U.S. policy going to be then?

It is not a pretty picture with exciting options. Perhaps this is the best available course at this time.

A Small Step Forward
With CAIR as Unindicted Co-Conspirator and MB Ties, Will Policy Towar them Change?
Maintained by Winter Tree Media, LLC