Blowback

BLOWBACK….Via Tapped, Noah Shachtman, who’s currently reporting from Iraq, worries about blowback:

Sunni political and tribal leaders are increasingly throwing in their lot with U.S. forces here against Al-Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent types. But, to get them to come over to our side, the American military has fed them a steady diet of anti-Shi’ite propaganda.

Arrests and killings of Shi’ite militants are announced from loudspeaker blasts; President Bush’s bellicose rhetoric towards Shi’a Iran is reported on friendly radio programs. But the majority of this country is Shi’ite. Are we setting ourselves up as the enemies of the majority here? Are we priming the pump for an all-in sectarian battle royale? It seems like a possibility.

It’s not clear whether Noah is talking about American actions in Anbar province, in Baghdad, or just in general. But either way, this is the danger of being in the middle of the civil war: it’s pretty much impossible to curry favor with one side for very long without losing the favor of the other side. At the moment, we probably don’t have any choice but to continue our alliance of convenience with the Sunni tribes, but as a long-term strategy it sure doesn’t look like much of a winner.

For more about this from a very senior source, take another look at this post from a couple of weeks ago. Arming the Sunni tribes against the Shiite central government isn’t just an accident, it’s a deliberate part of our strategy. This is not likely to end happily.