Sunday, February 19, 2006

They say in love and war everything is allowed.

The Iraqi and American authorities had been trying several ways in dealing with the local insurgents including offering amnesty for those who drop their arms, offering more reconstruction funds for the hot spots and opening the doors for the sons of those areas to join the Iraqi security forces.
But al-Sabah published a report this morning about an alleged big change in the American strategies towards the local insurgents:

Instead of talking to the leaders of the militant groups in the western regions of Iraq, US forces now are trying to arrange for disarming the insurgents through talking to tribal sheikhs and community leaders.
It seems the new strategy includes providing the sheikhs with huge amounts of money to be distributed to great numbers of insurgents to persuade them to stop the violence since they say that they had to resort to violence because they were in need for money. A source with close ties to the insurgents told al-Sabah.

The source revealed that American forces are receiving good feedback which encouraged them to increase their support to the mediators to get more insurgents under the umbrella of this program, and mentioned that the US forces have so far distributed approximately 20 million $ out of 250 allocated by the US authorities for this program.


The source said that politicians and well known figures from Anbar helped in the distribution of the money provided by the Americans and those mediators confirmed to the Americans that Anbar will be among the most stable provinces in Iraq by next August claiming the strategy is successful.
According to sheikhs and local leaders, the American forces are now convinced that there are many insurgents who use violence as a way to make money. The sheikhs also said that the previously dangerously violent villages and suburbs that are home for many of the former regime's security forces have become considerably safe now because the money they got from the Americans encouraged them to drop their arms.

It is not possible at the moment to verify the credibility of this report since I couldn't find it elsewhere but anyway I think it's worth stopping for a minute to think about.
One might say that paying the insurgents to stop the violence means submitting to the pressure of the terrorists and that doing this is useless because they will keep asking for more every time they run out of it. And that makes sense.

But let's look at it from another angle (again assuming the report is accurate) according to the report the insurgents (at least many of them) are paid mercenaries fighting for money and when thinking about the possible sources for this money I can only think of Syria and Iran.
So who's capable of investing more in Iraq, the US or the fading regimes in Iran and Syria?
I think that if it's possible to buy the loyalty of local insurgents with money then we should consider this as an option. Neither the Mullahs nor Asad will be in power few years from now so we won't have to keep paying them for a pretty long time.
Iraq needs this time, if we can end the violence with money a year earlier than we can do with force and politics then it's probably worth it.
More important, fighting the insurgents/terrorists is costing Iraq and America a lot of blood and billions of dollars every month.
So if we can find a less costly way to accomplish the same objectives, do you think we should take it?

However, there's at least one earlier occasion where Jafari and Khalil Zad promised to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for the reconstruction of Anbar so maybe this new program represents the 2nd part of a broader deal.

And let's not forget that a similar plan was adopted by the US and Iraqi authorities a year or so ago when people of Sadr city were paid millions of dollars to surrender their weapons, so if that was considered a right move, then doing the same in Anbar should be considered equally right especially that violence in the west is costing us much more than the violence of the Sadr militia was/is.

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