A Report From Baghdad

A REPORT FROM BAGHDAD….Three CNAS analysts recently returned from Iraq. Their observations range from the ridiculous….

“The Dora market in Baghdad, once a war zone, is now a recovering war zone with a thriving gym decorated somewhat surreally with Arnold Schwarzenegger posters — Arnold from the old days, not from the new ones,” [John] Nagl said.

….to the horrifying:

Maliki has been “slow-rolling” the integration of the Sunni Sons of Iraq into the Iraqi army and police, according to [Colin] Kahl. Kahl offered some startling statistics about the lack of progress on this front: Of the more than 100,000 Sunni militiamen that were much of the reason for American success over the last year in combating Al-Qaeda in Iraq, 16,000 are “in the pipeline” for integration into the Iraqi Army and police. Of these 16,000, the Iraqi government has only approved 600.

….”Maliki has no interest in integrating these guys — none,” Kahl said. “He thinks they’re thugs; he thinks they’re hooligans. . . . In fact, there’s some evidence that he’s trying to pick fights with them, hoping that they will start a fight that he can then turn around and finish them.”

Kahl apparently thinks that Maliki has become supremely overconfident, to the point where he thinks he really doesn’t need American help anymore and can crush the Sunni opposition anytime he wants. This is, to say the least, not encouraging news on the political reconciliation front.