Tigerhawk wonders “Iraq: What should we do now? “. The post was inspired by an NYT piece that led him to write:

By virtually every measure, the insurgency has strengthened since the winter and the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

I read through the comments and found a contrary opinion from Black Faced Skinner who seems to have his finger on the pulse:

A simple rise in IED’s might indicate an increase in strength, but not here because it has been accompanied by a simultaneous FALL in other activites, like the prison breaks and guerrilla assaults I mentioned. The Salafists are building road bombs because it is effective and cheap. They’re not raiding installations because they can no longer afford to. That indicates a WEAKENING of the Salafist insurgency; they can no longer carry out operations that at one time they did regularly.

Given these points how can one explain the (anonymous, naturally, which I inherently distrust) statement, ““The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels,” said a senior Defense Department official who agreed to discuss the issue only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution. “The insurgency has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point in time.””

Assuming that that statement wasn’t taken out of time or context, that doesn’t make any sense does it? After all, Zarqawi and almost all of his cell chiefs (remember all those raids that immediately followed his death?) have been neutralized. And how would Zarqawi’s insurgency, which killed more Shi’i than Americans anyway, ever have such public support in a majority Shi’i country? Seems contradictory, doesn’t it?

That’s because the statement is referring to the Shi’a militias, not ‘the insurgency’ that everyone thinks of. The Shi’a militias are, again, funded, armed, and possibly trained by the Iranians. Their political leaders regularly travel to Iran for ‘consultations.’ (i.e. instructions) And they have begun to seriously misbehave by killing political, religious, and occassionally business rivals and picking fights with the British. Though they were laying off the US; after Sadr’s two previous beat-downs and the nasty bloody destruction of a few of their Baghdad ‘death squad’ by US/Iraqi Special Forces, [which was accompanied by a ‘hands off’ warning to Iran; you might remember that little gem in the ‘oh wow, a US diplomat is going to talk to Iranians’ episode a few months ago] they didn’t seem eager to play with us anymore, it looks like they’ve gotten their fight back.

The power and assertiveness of Shi’a militias is an Iraqi political problem and they’re trying to find a way to deal with them *without* a rebellion. There have been direct assaults against some of the more obnoxious of these groups, but they were not overt or politically challenging. I don’t think a peaceful effort’ll work myself; they’re not the type to compromise.

But anyway, tying Iranian-backed Shi’a militias in with Baathist and Salaafist fighters (who spent a significant amount of time and effort killing Shi’a) is wrong at best, dishonest at worse.

What this uptick in violence represents is not an angry country trying to rid itself of an occupying power… that’s silly. If that’s what the goverment wanted, all they have to do is say “leave,” rather than “please don’t go away yet.” What this is is the increased aggression of foreign-backed militias. They’ve gotten themselves into a zealous, earth-cleansing crusading frenzy, helped by the Hezb’Allah drama and Ahmadouchebag’s apocalyptic rhetoric, and by god they’re going to purify their land with fire and blood. (they really do talk like that you know)

Black Faced Skinner says he is:

I’m a politically minded US Army intelligence professional with a focus on the Middle East, and here is where I’ll be posting rants, comments, and whatever else I might feel the need to express online. Enjoy. Or don’t. You know, whatever.

Even though he seems to be anonymous (like me), he makes a lot more sense than the NYT. The key point I found:

But anyway, tying Iranian-backed Shi’a militias in with Baathist and Salaafist fighters (who spent a significant amount of time and effort killing Shi’a) is wrong at best, dishonest at worse.

Why is Al Sadr still alive? If we are serious about winning this proxy war against Iran he should be eliminated. Whatever it takes, do it. Targetted assassinations work wonders in the Middle East.