Nytt

Svaret på dette spørsmålet er det samme som å besvare hvordan USA og Obama igjen havnet i hengemyren Irak. I et fascinerende essay i Washington Post gir Ali Khedery langt på vei forklaringen.

Han er den lengst tjenende amerikanske official i Irak. Han var rådgiver for fem amerikanske ambassadører og Central Command under David Petraeus. Han har vært med på nesten alt. Også et personlig forhold til Nouri al-Maliki.

Kedery har irakisk bakgrunn. Foreldrene innvandret til USA. Da USA invaderte var han en av de få i posisjon som kunne arabisk. Kedery ble sendt sporenstreks til Irak og ble værende der i syv år.

Han ble kjent med al-Maliki før han ble mektig. Han var med å anbefale ham. Når han nå tar avstand fra ham, er det fordi Irak betyr mer enn en manns skjebne.

I have known Maliki, or Abu Isra, as he is known to people close to him, for more than a decade. I have traveled across three continents with him. I know his family and his inner circle. When Maliki was an obscure member of parliament, I was among the very few Americans in Baghdad who took his phone calls. In 2006, I helped introduce him to the U.S. ambassador, recommending him as a promising option for prime minister. In 2008, I organized his medevac when he fell ill, and I accompanied him for treatment in London, spending 18 hours a day with him at Wellington Hospital. In 2009, I lobbied skeptical regional royals to support Maliki’s government.

I 2010 kom Khedery til at al-Maliki var i ferd med å utvikle seg til en kopi av Saddam Hussein, bare denne gang i allianse med Iran, ikke som motvekt. Han så at USA kunne komme til å gå på et strategisk nederlag av dimensjoner, ikke bare i Irak, men i hele Midtøsten. Derfor advarte han Obama og hans administrasjon innstendig om å droppe al-Maliki. Men Obama og hans team lyttet ikke. De fortsatte å støtte al-Maliki. Dagens krise er derfor «of their own making». Som man reder ligger man.

Derfor er Khederys essay samtidig en knusende dom over Obamas politikk: Først tar han feil, og når han ser konsekvensene av det later han som han er overrasket og begyner å lekse opp for al-Maliki. I denne ovenfra-og ned-posisjonen gjemmer han sin egen delaktighet.

By 2010, however, I was urging the vice president of the United States and the White House senior staff to withdraw their support for Maliki. I had come to realize that if he remained in office, he would create a divisive, despotic and sectarian government that would rip the country apart and devastate American interests.

America stuck by Maliki. As a result, we now face strategic defeat in Iraq and perhaps in the broader Middle East.

Karriere

 

irak.nouri.al-maliki

Al-Maliki sluttet seg til det teokratiske Dawa-partiet som ung mann. Det ble utsatt for nådeløs forfølgelse av Saddam Hussein, erfaringer som preget al-Maliki. Politikk var ensbetydende med vold.

Accused of being extensions of Iranian clerics and intelligence officers, thousands of Dawa party members were arrested, tortured and executed. Many of the mutilated bodies were never returned to their families. Among those killed were some of Maliki’s close relatives, forever shaping the psychology of the future premier.

Som shia-parti var det logisk å søke støtte hos Iran. Under den endeløse og brutale krigen mellom Irak og Iran, ble Dawa Irans forlengede arm. Fordi USA og Frankrike støttet Saddam, ble også disse landene mål for Dawas terror.

With Iran’s assistance, Dawa operatives bombed the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut in 1981 in one of radical Islam’s first suicide attacks. They also bombed the American and French embassies in Kuwait and schemed to kill the emir. Dozens of assassination plots against senior members of Hussein’s government, including the dictator himself, failed miserably, resulting in mass arrests and executions.

Allerede her bygges den alliansen som skyver USA ut og som har sekterisk konflikt som forutsetning.

Al-Maliki var Dawa-operatør i tre tiår. Han beveget seg mellom Syria og Irak på hemmelige oppdrag. Det satte sitt preg. Da USA invaderte i 2003 meldte han seg til tjeneste og fikk jobb under statsminister Ibrahim al-Jafari. Han ble medlem av komiteen som skulle rense statsapparatet for Baath-medlemmer. Sunniene følte at de ble skviset ut av alle maktposisjoner.

Enter Khedery selv:

I volunteered to serve in Iraq after watching the tragedy of 9/11 from the Texas governor’s conference room. The son of Iraqi immigrants, I was dispatched to Baghdad by the Office of the Secretary of Defense for a three-month assignment that ultimately lasted almost a decade. As special assistant to Ambassador Patrick Kennedy and the Coalition Provisional Authority’s liaison to the Iraqi Governing Council, and as one of the few American officials there who spoke Arabic, I became the Iraqi leaders’ go-to guy for just about everything — U.S.-furnished weapons, cars, houses or the much-coveted Green Zone access passes.

Dette var i den perioden ting skjedde i rivende fart og det ikke sto på ressurser. Etter at det første sjokket over oppløsningen og koaset hadde gitt seg, hadde USA gått løs på gjenoppbyggingen av Irak. Samtidig startet sunni-opprøret og jihad fra al-Qaida.

Formelt opphørte USAs okkupasjon i 2004, og suvereniteten gikk tilbake til Irak, som måtte få statinstitusjoner til å virke igjen. Khedery ble værende og hadde mye uformell omgang med medlemmene av Iraks midlertidige nasjonalforsamling.

These early days were exhausting but satisfying as Iraqis and Americans worked together to help the country rise from Hussein’s ashes.

Men shia-lederne tenkte ikke på nasjonen, de tenkte på seg selv. At tiden var kommet til å ta hevn for tiårs forfølgelse. Dermed sprakk landet etter etniske skillelinjer. Og sunni-opprøret begynte.

En spesiell virulent jihad-retning oppsto med Abu Musab al-Zarqawi som spekulerte i å utløse borgerkrig mellom sunnier og shiaer. Han lyktes da han bombet den hellige Askariya-moskeen i Samarra i februar 2006. Da gikk shiaene til all-out war mot sunniene. Titusenvis av uskyldige ble drept, voldtatt og lemlestet.

USA har mye på samvittigheten i Irak, men det blekner mot hva irakerne gjorde mot hverandre. Og dette var ikke USAs skyld slik venstreliberale gjerne vil ha det til. Dette var motsetninger som lå i det irakiske samfunnet, og irakerne foretrakk å løse dem med vold.

I desember 2005 gikk irakerne til det første frie valg noen gang i et arabisk land. Men hvem skulle lede landet? USA så seg om etter en egnet kandidat.

After the December 2005 parliamentary elections, U.S. Embassy officials combed the Iraqi elite for a leader who could crush the Iranian-backed Shiite militias, battle al-Qaeda, and unite Iraqis under the banner of nationalism and inclusive government. My colleague Jeffrey Beals and I were among the few Arabic-speaking Americans on good terms with the country’s leading figures. The only man we knew with any chance to win support from all Iraqi factions — and who seemed likely to be an effective leader — was Maliki. We argued that he would be acceptable to Iraq’s Shiite Islamists, around 50 percent of the population; that he was hard-working, decisive and largely free of corruption; and that he was politically weak and thus dependent on cooperating with other Iraqi leaders to hold together a coalition. Although Maliki’s history was known to be shadowy and violent, that was hardly unusual in the new Iraq.

Man kan ikke være for kresen når man opererer i et land som Irak, og etterhvert kan ens egen dømmekraft bli påvirket.

Al-Maliki ble statsminister 20. mai 2006. Han overtok et land som var nær ved kollaps. Sunni- og al-Qaida-opprøret var på det mest intense. Tusenvis ble drept hver måned. Oljeindustrien kollapset, det sivile liv gikk i stå. Irak ble en eneste krigssone.

Da var det en gruppe amerikanere forsto at USA kunne komme til å gå på et enormt nederlag hvis ikke kursen ble drastisk lagt om. George W. Bush lyttet. Derav oppsto the Surge. I 2007 kom to fremragende ledere til Irak: David Petraeus og ambassaør Ryan Crocker. Det var USA som holdt det nye Irak under armene.

Crocker and Petraeus met with the prime minister several hours a day, virtually every day, for nearly two years. Unlike his rivals, Maliki traveled little outside the country and routinely worked 16-hour days. We coordinated political, economic and military policies, seeking to overcome legislative obstacles and promote economic growth while pursuing al-Qaeda, Baathist spoilers and Shiite Islamist militias. As Crocker’s special assistant, my role was to help prepare him for and accompany him to meetings with Iraqi leaders, and I often served as his proxy when the Iraqis squabbled among themselves. The United States was compelled to mediate among the Iraqis because we felt that the country would become stable only with united and cohesive Iraqi leadership, backed by the use of force against violent extremists.

Petraeus’ genistrek var mobiliseringen av sunni-stammene mot al-Qaida. Zarqawis skrekkvelde hadde kjølnet samarbeidet og da Petraeus kunne tilby ansettelse og lønn, sluttet vesentlige deler av sunni-stammelederne opp om USA og indirekte regjeringen i Bagdad. Kontakten gikk gjennom USA, og Petraeus og Crocker måtte bruke all sin overtalelseskunst for å få al-Maliki til å gå med på sunni-hjemmevernet. Da USA var ute gikk al-Maliki tilbake på alle løfter og unnlot å betale dem.

Men al-Maliki ble også truet internt av Mokhtada al-Sadrs brigader. I mars 2008 dro al-Maliki personlig til Basra for å lede et angrep på Mahdi-hæren. Det skjedde hals over hode, uten planlegging, logistikk eller etterretning. USA hadde ikke noe valg, men måtte backe den irakiske hæren.

Locked in the ambassador’s office for several hours, Crocker, Petraeus, the general’s aide and I pored over the political and military options and worked the phones with Maliki and his ministers in Basra. We feared that Maliki’s field headquarters would be overrun and he’d be killed, an Iraqi tradition for seizing power. I dialed up Iraq’s Sunni Arab, Shiite Arab and Kurdish leaders so Crocker could urge them to publicly stand behind Maliki. Petraeus ordered an admiral to Basra to lead U.S. Special Operations forces against the Mahdi Army. For days, I received calls from Maliki’s special assistant, Gatah al-Rikabi, urging American airstrikes to level entire city blocks in Basra; I had to remind him that the U.S. military is not as indiscriminate with force as Maliki’s army is.

Al-Malikis «gamble» lyktes mot alle odds. For første gang i Iraks historie hadde en shia-leder nedkjempet en shia-rival. Neste fremstøt var mot Sadrs enheter i Sadr City i Bagdad. Også det førte frem. Dermed var både sunni-opprøret og shia-militante i allianse med Irak, slått tilbake. Alt lå til rette for en nasjonal samling.

Året var 2008, og det lakk mot slutten for George W. Bush som var opptatt av å sikre resultatene i form av en Status of Forces Agreement, SOFA, før han gikk av. Irakerne forsto at USA hadde hastverk og stilte stadig høyere krav. De ville ha mye for ingenting.

In an ascendant position, Maliki and his aides demanded everything in exchange for virtually nothing. They cajoled the United States into a bad deal that granted Iraq continued support while giving America little more than the privilege of pouring more resources into a bottomless pit. In retrospect, I imagine the sight of American officials pleading with him only fed Maliki’s ego further. After organizing Bush’s final trip to Iraq — where he was attacked with a pair of shoes at Maliki’s news conference celebrating the signing of the bilateral agreements — I left Baghdad with Crocker on Feb. 13, 2009. After more than 2,000 days of service, I was ill, depleted physically and mentally, but hopeful that America’s enormous sacrifices might have produced a positive outcome.

Obama kom inn med løftet om å gjøre slutt på Bush’s Dumb war. Det ble ingen SOFA. Obama ville bare ut. I kjølvannet av dette vakuumet så al-Maliki sin sjanse til å erobre makten innenfra:

He began a systematic campaign to destroy the Iraqi state and replace it with his private office and his political party. He sacked professional generals and replaced them with those personally loyal to him. He coerced Iraq’s chief justice to bar some of his rivals from participating in the elections in March 2010. After the results were announced and Maliki lost to a moderate, pro-Western coalition encompassing all of Iraq’s major ethno-sectarian groups, the judge issued a ruling that awarded Maliki the first chance to form a government, ushering in more tensions and violence.

I løpet av kort tid var USAs innsats og gevinster forspilt.

Men det utrolige er at Obama fortsatte å støtte al-Maliki selv etter at de katastrofale resultatene ikke lot seg skjule.

Crocker dro hjem i januar 2009, og det usedvanlig tette samarbeidet som hadde eksistert mellom militær ledelse under Petraus og diplomatene, smuldret. Det ble et vakuum i ambassaden i Bagdad, og den var vital i arbeidet med å overvåke og kontrollere al-Maliki.

In a meeting in Baghdad with a Petraeus-hosted delegation of Council on Foreign Relations members shortly after the 2010 elections, Maliki insisted that the vote had been rigged by the United States, Britain, the United Nations and Saudi Arabia. As we shuffled out of the prime minister’s suite, one stunned executive, the father of an American Marine, turned to me and asked, “American troops are dying to keep that son of a b—- in power?”

Khedery forsto at al-Maliki var blitt en trussel, ikke bare mot Irak, men mot USAs interesser i regionen. Han argumenterte innstendig for at Obama-administrasjonen droppet ham.

After helping to bring him to power in 2006, I argued in 2010 that Maliki had to go. I felt guilty lobbying against my friend Abu Isra, but this was not personal. Vital U.S. interests were on the line. Thousands of American and Iraqi lives had been lost and trillions of dollars had been spent to help advance our national security, not the ambitions of one man or one party. The constitutional process had to be safeguarded, and we needed a sophisticated, unifying, economics-minded leader to rebuild Iraq after the security-focused Maliki crushed the militias and al-Qaeda.

Det er vanskelig å forstå at Obama-administrasjonen ikke lyttet bedre. De ville ut av Irak, det var deres primære mål. Så fikk det gå som det kunne.

Det var ikke deres krig.

In conversations with visiting White House senior staff members, the ambassador, the generals and other colleagues, I suggested Vice President Adel Abdul Mahdi as a successor. A former Baathist, moderate Shiite Islamist and French-educated economist who had served as finance minister, Abdul Mahdi maintained excellent relations with Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds as well as with Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

On Sept. 1, 2010, Vice President Biden was in Baghdad for the change-of-command ceremony that would see the departure of Gen. Ray Odierno and the arrival of Gen. Lloyd Austin as commander of U.S. forces. That night, at a dinner at the ambassador’s residence that included Biden, his staff, the generals and senior embassy officials, I made a brief but impassioned argument against Maliki and for the need to respect the constitutional process. But the vice president said Maliki was the only option. Indeed, the following month he would tell top U.S. officials, “I’ll bet you my vice presidency Maliki will extend the SOFA,” referring to the status-of-forces agreement that would allow U.S. troops to remain in Iraq past 2011.

Flere med solid bakgrunn forsøkte å advare USA.

Even before my return to Baghdad, officials including Deputy U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford, Odierno, British Ambassador Sir John Jenkins and Turkish Ambassador Murat Özçelik each lobbied strenuously against Maliki, locking horns with the White House, U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill and Maliki’s most ardent supporter, future deputy assistant secretary of state Brett McGurk.

Christpher Hill gjorde en ærerik innsats i Bosnia, men i Irak later han til å ha falt igjennom. Inn kom en ny svak amerikansk øverstkommanderende, Lloyd Austin, som støttet al-Maliki, sammen med statssekretær Brett McGurk. Kritikerne vant ikke frem.

Det var en annen spiller på brettet, som var mektigere enn de fleste. Khedery kaller leder av al-Quds-styrken, general Soleimani, for den mektigste mann i Midtøsten. Det er store ord, men fra munnen til en så kunnig mann er det verdt å ta med seg.

Our debates mattered little, however, because the most powerful man in Iraq and the Middle East, Gen. Qassim Soleimani, the head of the Quds Force unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, was about to resolve the crisis for us. Within days of Biden’s visit to Baghdad, Soleimani summoned Iraq’s leaders to Tehran. Beholden to him after decades of receiving Iran’s cash and support, the Iraqis recognized that U.S. influence in Iraq was waning as Iranian influence was surging. The Americans will leave you one day, but we will always remain your neighbors, Soleimani said, according to a former Iraqi official briefed on the meeting.

Khedery så skriften på veggen og brukte alle kontakter og anstrengelser for å avverge at Iran skjøv USA ut av Irak. Dette er i parentes bemerket det samme Iran som Obama mener han kan komme til forståelse med, ut fra felles interesser.

Det virker ikke som om Obama helt har tatt inn over seg Irans dobbeltspill.

I was determined not to let an Iranian general who had murdered countless American troops dictate the endgame for the United States in Iraq. By October, I was pleading with Ambassador Jeffrey to take steps to avert this outcome. I said that Iran was intent on forcing the United States out of Iraq in humiliation and that a divisive, sectarian government in Baghdad headed by Maliki would almost certainly lead to another civil war and then an all-out regional conflict. This might be averted if we rebuffed Iran by forming a unity government around a nationalist alternative such as Abdul Mahdi. It would be extremely difficult, I acknowledged, but with 50,000 troops still on the ground, the United States remained a powerful player. The alternative was strategic defeat in Iraq and the Middle East writ large. To my surprise, the ambassador shared my concerns with the White House senior staff, asking that they be relayed to the president and vice president, as well as the administration’s top national security officials.

Khederys detaljerte redegjørelse gjør det klart at Obama-administrasjonen med viten og vilje valgte al-Maliki. Khedery fikk Bidens sikkerhetsrådgiver Anthony Blinken til å møte en storayatollah som fortalte ham at al-Maliki ikke var statsminister for Irak, men Dawa og Iran.

By November, the White House had settled on its disastrous Iraq strategy. The Iraqi constitutional process and election results would be ignored, and America would throw its full support behind Maliki.

Samme ordspråk gjelder for Obama som for Bush: If you break it, you own it. Iraks kollaps var Obamas ansvar, selv om han nå forsøker å løpe fra det.

Det er særlig forholdet til Iran som gjør Obama-administrasjonens valg uforståelig og utilgivelig. Obama forærte Iran Irak. Hvordan vil det være mulig å forhandle frem en avtale om atomprogrammet i lys av dette? Irak har sett USAs svakhet.

På hjemmebane rykket al-Maliki inn så fort amerikanerne var ute. Det gikk bare timer før det sto stridsvogner utenfor husene til sunni-poltikere. Al-Maliki samlet all makt i sine hender – statsminister, forsvarsminister og innenriksminister. Regjeringen ble fylt med menn som var Irans håndlangere. Menn som hadde vært med å angripe amerikanske mål, som ambassaden i Kuwait i 1983.

Denne historien er så dramatisk, særlig på bakgrunn av jihadistenes fremrykking i Nord-Irak, at den vil måtte få konsekvenser for Obamas ettermæle.

De beste hensikter – å avslutte krigen – har gitt katastrofale resultat.

In short, Maliki’s one-man, one-Dawa-party Iraq looks a lot like Hussein’s one-man, one-Baath Party Iraq. But at least Hussein helped contain a strategic American enemy: Iran. And Washington didn’t spend $1 trillion propping him up. There is not much “democracy” left if one man and one party with close links to Iran control the judiciary, police, army, intelligence services, oil revenue, treasury and the central bank. Under these circumstances, renewed ethno-sectarian civil war in Iraq was not a possibility. It was a certainty.

Khedery plasserer ansvaret på Obamas skuldre: Irak er ved å bli en failed state og det kunne vært unngått. I anarkiet som blomstrer finnes krefter som planlegger et nytt 9/11. Kan det tenkes noen verre utgang?

 

The crisis now gripping Iraq and the Middle East was not only predictable but predicted — and preventable. By looking the other way and unconditionally supporting and arming Maliki, President Obama has only lengthened and expanded the conflict that President Bush unwisely initiated. Iraq is now a failed state, and as countries across the Middle East fracture along ethno-sectarian lines, America is likely to emerge as one of the biggest losers of the new Sunni-Shiite holy war, with allies collapsing and radicals plotting another 9/11.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-we-stuck-with-maliki–and-lost-iraq/2014/07/03/0dd6a8a4-f7ec-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html