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Saturday, February 21, 2015

"I hear people blaming President Nouri al-Maliki “What happened to Maliki," David Kilcullen speach

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I hear people blaming President Nouri al-Maliki

“What happened to Maliki, how did he go from being inclusive in 2007–2008 to being sectarian in 2012?”

And even asking that question just speaks of a total lack of understanding of the conditions on the ground in Iraq.

Yes. Maliki was relatively inclusive in 2007 – 2008. That’s when we had 165,000 U.S. Troops in Baghdad, and in the districts around Baghdad. And when we had advisers embed across his entire government structure and we were spending billions of dollars in assistance. Which gave us enormous leverage, and could ensure a fair outcome.  We actually acted more like a playground umpire ensuring fairness. Which meant that he could afford to be inclusive, he could afford to strike deals because he knew that someone was going to enforce the outcome.  

When we left, and left behind zero military, hardly any civilian advisers, we cut off all the assistance, we lost that leverage. And we left Maliki in a situation where it was now zero sum, and anything he gave up would be gained by his enemies, and was just not in the position to be more inclusive. He had to consolidate his Shia popular support and he had to solidify support from the Iranians.  He immediately reneged on some deals with the Sunni community and with the Kurds. Very important to the outcome of this years fighting he side lined a number of the professional U.S. trained military and police leaders and he replaced them with Sectarian loyalists, who are also often quite corrupt, and not particularly good at fighting.  As a result by 2013 Iraq was in disarray and the Kurds and the Sunnis felt betrayed by Baghdad. Tribal elders had been hung out to dry. The Iraqi Security forces were engaged in what a lot of Iraqi Sunnis saw as essential sectarian ethnic cleansing, and the was space there for a return of ISIS.  So ISIS was defeated in Iraq, it reinvigorated itself in Syria and came roaring back into the space created by our withdrawal.

Dr. David Kilcullen
Australian Counterinsurgency and counter terrorism expert
and Author

Recommended books include:
"The accidental Guerrilla"

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